* This post is not sponsored, meaning all opinions are my own and no one I had paid AYL to share this. *
Last October we teamed up with Lewis Reed to create a series of honest Wheelchair Accessible Vehicle (WAV) reviews - only this time we wanted to film the experience to ensure our opinions were visually and verbally represented! You can learn more about the company, their cars, vehicle adaptions and the Motability Scheme in a previous blog entry; whereas this post marks the first out of four reviews!
The Volkswagen Caddy Maxi is a compact, yet spacious vehicle that is also easy to drive and extremely practical. It is clear that the maximum wheelchair size, height of occupant and need for excessive medical equipment have been taken into consideration, as this vehicle is available to order in a variety of configurations. Combining personal preferences and physical needs during the conversion process to ensure that all passengers are provided with an enjoyable, time saving and socially integrated experience! Best of all, the Lewis Reed design team also made further improvements to create a quieter, smoother ride - something that is much appreciated when you are travelling in a wheelchair, as you typically feel/hear every bump and rattle.
This vehicle has plenty of room to comfortably accommodate one wheelchair user and five other passengers, including the driver. The Flexi-Seat system allows you to choose a number of different seating positions and storage solutions, enabling optimum comfort and zero compromises. The image below demonstrates some of the available seating arrangements - I preferred option two, which includes two standard seats in the front and two folding/removable seats in the rear with a space in the middle for my wheelchair. Allowing me to be apart of the conversation and close to my assistance dog, as opposed to being at the back of the vehicle by myself. All whilst having enough room for my endless medical supplies, oxygen machine, and luggage.
As mentioned above, this vehicle is designed for optimum access. The headroom for both rear seat passengers and wheelchair users is exceptional, plus there are large darkened windows that offer a fantastic eye line once inside - something I rarely get to enjoy due to being so tall! The rear entry system includes a rattle-free TorSpring ramp designed by Lewis Reed, which is lightweight, durable and easy to use. It also allows the vehicle to retain a stylish look once the doors are closed. For increased independence and total luxury, you can opt for a fully automated rear entry system, allowing the tailgate and ramp to automatically deploy with the click of a button.
Lewis Reed offers a wide range of restraints, powerchair lockdowns and winches to ensure the process of loading and unloading wheelchair users is quick and easy. Securing any wheelchair in place and preventing sudden movement whilst in motion. Be sure to see the video linked below for an in-depth look at these safety features, including the nonslip winch.
This vehicle has some additional key features which make driving just as enjoyable as passenger riding. Starting with the choice of either a short or long floor option; making it the longest lowered floor in its class and allowing practically any wheelchair to sit comfortably alongside the other passengers. Next up is the Sure-Fit 200, which is an upper seat belt adjuster that can be easily moved using one hand to ensure the user can find a safe and comfortable position for the belt. Along with integrated ambient lighting, allowing passengers to operate such systems easily in the dark.
Overall, I think the Volkswagen Caddy Maxi is a great choice for passengers like myself with ever-changing needs, as I know the vehicle could continually be adapted over time to accommodate different wheelchairs, a growing family and future medical supplies. It is also reasonably priced in comparison to other wheelchair accessible vehicles on the market and is available on the Motability Scheme.
Felix (my caregiver, partner and driver) thought that the vehicle combines performance with practicality; making it perfect for long car journeys and quick to access on a rainy day - we were able to load and safely secure my wheelchair in under two minutes! He was pleasantly surprised by the small turning circle and the fact the vehicle maintained the famous VW look, despite the extensive conversions. As you can see in the images below, Fliss was also pretty comfortable and clearly enjoyed having the perfect dog-sized window to look out of!
To learn more about Lewis Reed's bespoke vehicle conversions, you can visit their office in Bromborough, call them on 0151 343 5360, fill out their online request form or arrange a home demonstration!