David Smith MBE, world champion boccia player and Sirus customer for the last decade, writes about about driving from his wheelchair and reviews the brand new VW Caddy 5 from Sirus. The latest conversion is designed for drive from wheelchair, internal transfer and upfront passenger options, and is now available on the Motability Scheme.
I believe driving [a car] should be no harder than driving an electric wheelchair. A car is only a bit bigger and has a few more rules to remember! I passed my test in April 2012 with two minors, I have now driven 129,000 miles, some miles around Europe and my carers have never driven me since. My only regret is that I did not learn to drive sooner.
Driving can be as easy as driving a wheelchair. I do it automatically now. The first process of getting the car is longer than if you were able-bodied. However, you end up with a bespoke lease vehicle, with minimal running costs and you have the ultimate freedom! Driving independently is possible for a lot of severely disabled people.
Sirus VW Caddy
I have had two Sirus VW Caddy Drive From Wheelchair vehicles, and in my opinion, Sirus produce the best VW conversions (hence why I have driven a Sirus Drive From Wheelchair vehicle for over ten years now). After 13 years of Caddy 4, we were all eagerly waiting to see what VW had in store.
Here is my summary of the vehicle and the conversion:
- The VW Caddy 5 does look pretty impressive. The exterior is slick and is longer than the Caddy 4 (Caddy 5 is based on the long-wheelbase Caddy Maxi Life model, and the Caddy 4 is based on the short-wheelbase Caddy Life).
- The move away from diesel to petrol is good for the planet. The petrol engine comes with a DSG dual-clutch seven-speed automatic gearbox.
- The dashboard and infotainment system is very neat. It is definitely a huge step up from the Caddy 4.
- The Caddy 5 includes a wide range of technology – it has an 8.25inch touchscreen and the ‘Innovision’ digital dash has an electronic display replacing standard dials.
- Volkswagen We Connect includes Breakdown Call and Automatic Accident Notification.
- The team have performed miracles and it looks great inside and has the usual Sirus finish.
- The new Caddy 5 is designed so that I can travel as a passenger in the front and one of my PA’s can drive (the seats are interchangeable so you can decide who is driving whilst on your journey).
- The new conversion doesn’t have lowering suspension. It has been designed to avoid speed bumps without the need for the suspension to lower and rise.
- The Caddy 5 is designed with two rear fold-down seats, so has space for up to four.
- There is a lot more space for luggage, which is great for transporting my boccia equipment and sports chair.
- The floor has a low incline. I can get in and out without realigning my wheelchair, so it is much easier and quicker.
- The seated head height is the same as Caddy 4 (58”).