March 05, 2019 at 2:58 PM
A Wheelchair Accessible Vehicle (WAV) takes away the struggle and stress of having to get a disabled passenger out of their wheelchair or mobility scooter and into a car or van. In addition, you don't need to think about storing the wheelchair or how much space it will take up in the boot.
The advantages of using a WAV are well documented, but it can be difficult to know which are the best on the market, especially if it's your first time buying one. To help, we've compiled a list of the 10 best WAVs available.
VOLKSWAGEN CADDY LIFE
Based on the Volkswagen Caddy small van, the Caddy Life is the MPV-style passenger configuration available in Standard and Maxi lengths. As a WAV, the Maxi version is preferable because it provides five seats (including the driver) plus room for the wheelchair or scooter user.
Designed for optimum access, the Caddy Maxi Life comes with twin sliding side doors and a large rear tailgate hinged at the top to facilitate both side and rear entry, whichever is easiest and more convenient for your lifestyle.
Although this Volkswagen conversion isn't the cheapest option available, it is extremely versatile with a range of adaptations available as well as the option of manual or automatic transmissions. It's also one of the most stylish WAVs on the market, borrowing design cues from the Golf and Polo hatchback cars.
PEUGEOT PARTNER TEPEE
The Peugeot Partner Tepee is the UK's best-selling WAV and the most popular option on the Motability Scheme. Already converted from the Partner small van to be a passenger vehicle, it offers fantastic amounts of space for wheelchair-bound and able-bodied passengers.
As a standard MPV, the Partner Tepee offers five seats; however, that capacity is reduced by one when converted to be used as a WAV with a single passenger still able to sit alongside the wheelchair or scooter user in the back.
Access to the vehicle is via the rear using the large tailgate hinged at the top and a ramp which has been designed to be stowed flat to the floor (when not in use) so you can take full advantage of the huge luggage area.
Peugeot has now discontinued the Partner Tepee model, but it's still available on the used market. In its place, they've released the Rifter which is their all-new MPV model with more space and a modern high-tech interior.
CITROEN BERLINGO MULTISPACE
The Citroen Berlingo Multispace and Peugeot Partner Tepee were produced as a joint venture by their owning company, PSA Group, so they are practically identical in terms of accessibility and space.
It comes with twin sliding side doors as standard and the original seat configuration which allows you to transport five able-bodied passengers with ease. With a wheelchair user in place, the capacity decreases to four people in total.
Access for a wheelchair or scooter user is by using a ramp at the rear assisted by the large tailgate hinged at the top which offers a generous entry height of 1,400mm. Similar to the Partner Tepee, the Berlingo Multispace has been updated as the Berlingo passenger model.
FORD TORNEO CONNECT
The Ford Torneo Connect MPV is available in two lengths: Short and Grand. The short can accommodate the wheelchair or scooter user and up to three passengers (including the driver), whereas the Grand model allows up to five seated passengers plus the disabled passenger.
Access for the wheelchair user is exclusively via the rear using a lightweight ramp that cleverly folds flat into the vehicle when not in use to provide more space. The large tailgate hinged at the top provides an entry height of 1,468mm.
Seating configuration, especially in the Grand model is very versatile. You can keep the original second row in the Torneo Connect or replace it with two individual seats that allow the wheelchair user to sit further forward, but does reduce capacity to five people in total.
As a passenger vehicle originally, it is great to drive. It boasts premium finishes and high-quality materials without compromising the everyday practicality essential for a WAV.
Based on the Fiat Doblo small cargo van, the Doblo WAV uses the segment-leading space in the back to comfortably transport a wheelchair or scooter user with up to four other passengers (including the driver).
The extra large twin sliding side doors come as standard and provide easy access for able-bodied passengers. The boxy design provides plenty of head room and an entry height of 1,430mm from the rear entry ramp.
While the focus from Fiat has been to update the design and make the vehicle more appealing with typical Italian styling and flair, it has always retained the essential practicality of a WAV.
Converted from the Renault Kangoo small panel van, the Kangoo WAV is available in Standard and Maxi length. It is able to accommodate a wheelchair or scooter of any size with the option of one, two, three or four other passengers travelling in the vehicle.
As standard, it comes with twin sliding side doors for able-bodied passengers to access the rear seats. Wheelchair accessibility is via a ramp at the rear to make getting in and out as easy as possible.
Typically, the rear seats are borrowed from the Scenic passenger car which can be moved or removed entirely to maximise interior space.
Using the Vauxhall Combo small panel van as a base, the Combo WAV is one of the more spacious compact vehicles on the market. Typically, it's available with two, three or four seats plus the wheelchair or scooter user.
Access to the lowered floor in the back is via a fold-out ramp with a large tailgate hinged at the top which also provides shelter from wet and windy weather conditions.
After PSA Group agreed to buy General Motor's European unit, including Vauxhall, in 2017, the new Combo has been developed alongside the Peugeot Partner and Citroen Berlingo models. A brand new Combo Life passenger vehicle was released in 2018 which is now included on the Motability Scheme as a Wheelchair Accessible Vehicle.
If you're looking for something a bit more spacious, the Renault Trafic WAV is based on the French manufacturer's medium-size panel van. It can comfortably accommodate the wheelchair or scooter user and up to five seated passengers (including the driver).
As the Trafic is a larger vehicle, it is perfectly suited to carrying any size of wheelchair or mobility scooter without restricting space. There's also a long wheelbase version that provides more space if you need to transport other items such as medical equipment.
Wheelchair access is via an automatic tail lift or lightweight folding ramp to the rear using the standard double doors. Every Trafic is well-equipped with DAB Radio, front electric windows and manual air conditioning.
The Vauxhall Vivaro is an identical van that is built in partnership with Renault at the same factory using the same parts and manufacturing process to deliver WAVs to the same specification levels.
FORD TORNEO CUSTOM
The Ford Torneo Custom is the big brother of the Torneo Connect MPV and is roughly the same size as the UK's most popular van: Transit Custom medium-size panel van.
As a WAV, the most popular conversion is called Independence, which is supplied by Allied Mobility. The low gradient and lightweight EasyFold ramp make entry and exit for the wheelchair or scooter user easy and straightforward.
Ford Independence is unlike any other mobility conversion, in that, it gives you the option to choose where the disabled passenger is positioned within the vehicle as well as offering a number of seating layout configurations. There's even an option which can accommodate two wheelchair passengers at once.
The Citroen SpaceTourer is a relatively new model that has recently been redesigned alongside the Peugeot Traveller as a modern people carrier that is also available on the Motability Scheme.
Largely based on the Citroen Dispatch panel van in terms of size, the SpaceTourer is able to transport a wheelchair or scooter user alongside five passengers as standard. If you need to accommodate a seventh passenger, you can install a tip-and-fold seat.
Wheelchair access is via the large tailgate hinged at the rear and a ramp that can be folded flat when it's not in use. The lowered floor provides a class-leading height of 1,470mm and is an excellent option for a mid-sized wheelchair accessible family vehicle.