All aboard the Motability scheme- Renault review

Well, dear reader, I have been awarded my Higher Rate DLA. I spoke to my local driving assessment centre to check it would be okay for me to do my test drives without any further driving lessons, they recommended the next step: get my mitts on some vehicles for test drives.

I’m used to buying vehicles based on all sorts of factors, but I’ve never even considered the height of the sills, the suspension and the size of the boot. This time, all that changes. So I’ve decided to try and write up my own little reviews of the cars I try. And I’ll post them here, so you can look back on them. I hope they’ll be useful if you’re looking for similar things in vehicles, and it may help you understand how and why the Motability scheme works.

I like the way the motability scheme website shows the What Car? reviews of all the vehicles, and allows you to search for cars that fit your specifications. First up: the Renault Modus Dynamique. I’m concious of my impact on the environment, so it is important to me to choose a car which has low CO2 emissions. All the cars surveyed will be “greener” choices.

Lets not kid ourselves, there is no such thing as an Eco friendly car. However, this car also uses a fair proportion of recycled plastic (7% of total used) and is over 95% recyclable at the end of its life.

As it happens, my local Motability Renault dealership is also the local Nissan dealership so I also tried the Nissan Note, which is the equivalent car from Nissan. It too has relatively low emissions. This will be the subject of my next post. Here’s my quick summary of the Renault.

Renault Grand Modus 1.5dCi 88 Dynamique 5d MP

  • Nice low sill.  Very easy transfer in and out.
  • Good driver position, adjustable lumbar support in drivers seat. Seat fully adjustable; seat height, and forward or back.
  • Steering wheel moves up and down, but not in and out. Guess it doesn’t need to, since the seat does.
  • Cool! the electric windows and mirrors fold in and out automatically.
  • Gears seemed to flow into each other easily. All controls near the steering wheel were easy to work out.
  • Child door and window locks for the back. Controlled by driver.
  • Back seat fitted both child seats and the slim sales lady. Seats front and back fully forward and there was leg room for my 6′ partner in the front with his seat as far forward as it could go.
  • Boot space good, needed to have seats right forward to fit in wheelchair. Wheelchair lying flat for safety, but using hoist would be upright. Checked height upright, and it would fit no problem.
As it turned out, I felt comfortable enough to try a test drive- my first drive for about a year and a half! It went pretty well, because I didn’t need to turn, or push the gearstick or foot pedals as hard as I feared. Although it will take a few days to work out if the pain is worth the effort involved.

Boot

  • Good suspension- still noticeable over potholes. Quite ouchy.
  • Good visibility, easy to see over shoulder. Almost no blind spot.
  • Good fuel economy- 68 mpg.
  • Quiet ride at speeds up to 40mph.
  • Easy to reverse park up a hill and round a corner.
  • Needed to go down to 1st gear to get up steep hills.
  • Brakes felt solid and responsive.

The salesperson recommended that if I was nervous, I could ask Motability if they would be prepared to offer a couple of driving lessons in order to get conversant with the car. It’s not unusual for them to be given. They recommend the hoist is fitted to the front and side of the boot. This will mean the wheelchair can be hoisted more easily by me in order to be independent. Extra luggage can then be stored behind the upright wheelchair.

I liked this car, although I thought the interior was a bit plasticky looking. And the glove box wasn’t cooled, which some other cars of this type fit as standard.

So, all the other cars will be compared to this one. Next post:

Nissan Note 1.5dCi Acenta 5d MP

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3 Comments

  1. I *really* recommend automatic cars, if you have any kind of difficulties with legs, knees etc. There’s no need to be in pain while driving. Also, think about how your needs might change at any point. I should have thought about getting a van from the beginning – hoists are just too complicated for me. Good luck choosing!

    Reply
    • Thanks for that, Naomi. I must admit, I have wondered what would happen if I lost any more function, especially given I’m being referred to Rheumatology to find out if there’s anything else at play with my pain. I think I do need to consider the option of automatics and hand controls carefully; but it’s one of those layers of denial I’m passing through where I try to be as “normal” as possible. As you say, it’s crazy to be in pain when driving, I just can’t imagine NOT being in pain doing anything, and I was so happy to have been able to handle the manual control *sigh*. Thanks for pointing that out, sensitively; sometimes it’s necessary for an outsider to do that.

      Reply
      • I didn’t mind ‘going automatic’ too much, because I’m dyspraxic anyway, and hate manual controls. I do understand the need to look ‘normal’, but remember it’s more important to be in less pain, especially if it means more function for being with your kids! Hand controls I’ve never looked at, but I have a steering knob on the steering wheel that takes much pressure off my shoulders. I reommend it if you have any shoulder issues.

        By the way, make sure rheumatology checks you for hypermobility e.g. against the Beighton and Brighton scales. Hypermobility is a risk factor in all kinds of things, and rheumatologists tend to miss it. (I was 28 before they diagnosed EDS!) Hope it goes well with that.

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