Toyota had a record number of test drives this year at last week’s Mobility Roadshow, with over 500 visitors taking the opportunity to test its wide range of vehicles and adaptations on the famous Donington circuit. Six Toyota cars – Corolla and Yaris, both in standard and Verso form, and RAV4 – were fitted with hand controls. Also available to view on the Toyota stand were the Avensis, Avensis Verso and Previa MPV, where special guest, Simon Weston OBE, was on hand to discuss mobility concerns and vehicle choice with visitors.
"I thoroughly enjoyed myself," said Simon afterwards. "The show was hugely impressive, and being at Donington had an edge of romance. You could sense that the atmosphere was right, everyone was so cheerful. I spoke to lots of visitors on the Toyota stand about the type of car they were looking for."
Simon had recently been driving the Corolla Verso 2.0-litre T Spirit diesel. "I was really impressed with the Corolla Verso. It is a versatile car without a doubt. You can take out two back seats and still end up with three seats with space to put a motorised buggy in and the facility to fasten it down."
Simon said that finding and accessing stowage space for wheelchairs and buggies had been a primary concern among visitors to whom he spoke at the show. He added that many of today's Toyota vehicles had suitably large hatchback entrance and exits, wide doors and low lips to aid accessibility.
A technician from Specialised Vehicle Options (SVO) was on hand to demonstrate the wide variety of aids and adaptations available for Toyota vehicles, including an ingenious swivelling driver's seat installed on a Yaris Verso. "That would be invaluable for someone who has manoeuvrability problems and can't move their back or neck too much," said Rob Pithouse of SVO.
"Strangely enough, this year people were asking me things like, will the car take fishing rods?" Simon Weston commented. "That tells you everything about disability, because even with their problems people are looking to enjoying their leisure time as much as anyone else, and make the most of their vehicles.
"There are eight million disabled people in this country and at least three people on average in a disabled household, The Mobility Roadshow is a fabulous one-stop shop."
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