Helen Dolphin

Choosing my next Motability Scheme car

Independent mobility consultant Helen Dolphin MBE has been a Motability Scheme customer since 1999, and has had three Motability Scheme cars over the past 9 years. In July this year, Helen was due to renew her lease for the fourth time, so in this article she shares her experience of how she went about choosing the right car to suit her needs.

A few months before my lease was expiring, I received a letter from the Motability Scheme to notify me that I should start looking for my next car. I’d had my current car for the last five years as I had extended the lease due to quite complex adaptations. I wanted to keep the car for as long as possible as it had been fitted with all my requirements – fitting the adaptations initially was a bit of a challenge for the adaptation supplier, but apart from a few glitches with the hand break in the early days and a problem with the indicators last year that was resolved very quickly, I’ve been really happy with my car.

Things to consider

When looking for a new vehicle I have a lot of things to consider. Firstly, I need a big car to fit my one-year old son in his car seat, my wheelchair and my assistance dog, as well as all the luggage that I like to take everywhere with me. Secondly, I cover a lot of miles in my car so I need it to be economical on fuel. Thirdly, my car needs to have an automatic transmission so that I can drive it. And finally, to avoid having to have too many adaptations fitted, I like a car to have as standard, adaptive windscreen wipers, an automatic boot, keyless start and a built in satellite navigation (sat nav), which I can control.

Fuel type

My current car has a diesel engine, because when I chose it five years ago this is what I was recommended by my dealer, as the running costs for a diesel were less if you had high mileage. However, from a financial perspective there is now very little difference between a petrol and diesel car, especially since diesel fuel costs more than petrol. There are a number

Getting your next car

Getting a new car is a big decision, especially if your needs, lifestyle and preferences are likely to change during the course of your next lease. If you’re due to renew your lease soon, find out everything you need to know about getting your next car.

Find out more

of websites which can help you calculate what would be best for you – I used the RAC quiz to help me decide. The quiz showed me that as I do about 20,000 miles annually, mostly on motorways, diesel still works out best financially. It is also reassuring to know that all new diesel engines must comply with Euro 6 regulations which are the cleanest in history.


Once I had decided what type of transmission, engine type and size of vehicle I wanted, I used the car search tool on the Motability Scheme website to start shortlisting vehicles. I wasn’t sure whether I wanted to stick with a large estate or go for a SUV or MPV so I included them all in my search. Even with these parameters there were over 100 cars on the list. Some were not big enough so were instantly excluded but there were still a lot to consider. I ended up with the Skoda Kodiaq 2.0 TDI SE 5dr, Skoda Superb 1.6 TDI SE Estate and BMW 320d SE Touring on my short list, to go and test drive at my local dealer.

Taking a test drive

The Skoda garage was my first point of call. Both cars I had selected to look at really impressed me as they had a lot of features which came included in the price. However, I decided the Kodiaq was just too big; as I would have struggled getting in and out, so I opted to test drive the Superb only.

After test driving the Superb, I realised that the sat nav was hard for me to use and the boot shape would have made it difficult for me to load my wheelchair. The boot was also opened by the key fob but had to be closed by pressing a button on the boot itself which would have meant an adaptation which I wanted to avoid, so this car was no longer an option either.

I thought it would be a good idea to visit the BMW dealership again as I was happy with my BMW 320d SE Touring. I wanted to check if there had been many significant changes to the model. Fortunately, the car was almost identical to my current car, so I knew it would meet my requirements. There was a new feature called “heads up display” which I wanted to check out so the dealer, who was very accommodating arranged for me to borrow a car with this feature, to decide if I liked it.

Because I was still undecided, I visited a Motability Scheme One Big Day event to have a look at some other cars, which was a great way to see a lot of makes and models in one place and to help me narrow down my options further. Following the event and after several months of research and test drives, I came to the decision that I would order the exact same car that I’d had previously as it still met all my requirements, which is the most important thing for me – however, this time I have decided to go for blue instead of white to mix it up!

Not a customer but want to find out more about the Motability Scheme?

The Motability Scheme offers an all-inclusive package that allows anyone in receipt of higher rate mobility allowances to use their mobility allowance to lease a car, scooter, powered wheelchair or Wheelchair Accessible Vehicle. The Scheme provides flexible and hassle-free access to a brand new, reliable vehicle of your choice – giving you greater freedom, everyday.

Find out if you’re eligible to join the Scheme

If you’d like us to send you more information about the Motability Scheme, request a free information pack below.

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If you’re ready to start looking for a car, use the car search tool to explore the full range of cars available on the Scheme

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