Mobility Roadshow: The really accessible event...

There's no need to look on in frustration at this show, says James Ruppert. You can try out all the vehicles you like
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Indy Lifestyle Online

Motor shows, up until recently, have largely been rubbish. Sometimes you can look, but you can't touch or sit in and as for having a drive, that's been pretty much impossible. Also, if you happen to be disabled, then a conventional motor show is all but useless, with virtually no relevant vehicles to look at. That's surprising considering that there are around 9.8 million disabled people in the UK, 2.3 million blue-badge holders and that 10 per cent of the UK car market comprises "mobility" vehicles. It's a good job then, that the Mobility Roadshow exists. It is the world's largest outdoor mobility event.

Originally started by the Department of Transport in 1983, the Mobility Roadshow is now run by Mobility Choice, a registered charity with grant-aid support from the Department for Transport. This year there will be two shows, one near Edinburgh and the other near Swindon, and entry is free, which means everyone has the chance to meet more than 200 exhibitors.

These include major car companies, vehicle adaptation and conversion specialists, mobility aids manufacturers, scooter and wheelchair manufacturers, information and advice services, charities, mobility insurance specialists and holiday companies.

Visitors also get to test out products. All you have to do is bring your driving licence and you can have go on all sorts of adapted vehicles, which include quad bikes and scooters.

It is a mistake to think that if you have mobility issues you'll have to be stuck inside an adapted van for the rest of your days. But there are circumstances where you need lots of room for people and luggage. That's why you might take a look at one of the first adaptations of a Peugeot 806, as well the latest Citroën C8. Also, Roy Wood Transits will have a couple of adapted camper-vans.

However, you can still opt for a stylish vehicle. Saab achieved a record 103 sales through the Motability scheme in March, led by the 9-3 Convertible and SportWagon models. Saab's sales through Motability have risen 87 per cent in the past six months, which is why manufacturers are taking this event so seriously, and why a record number will be turning up at this year's events. Chevrolet, Citroën, Ford, Honda, Hyundai, Mercedes-Benz, Mitsubishi, Nissan, Saab, Smart, Toyota, Vauxhall, and Volkswagen will be among the best-known companies to make sure they are in attendance.

Toyota is taking the opportunity to launch its own Mobility Programme at the roadshow. This makes Toyota the first manufacturer in the UK to introduce genuine Toyota mobility accessories for the Yaris, Corolla, Verso and RAV4 models. The first items to be made available will be a driver or passenger swivel-seat and, for the RAV4 and Verso, an automatic, lift-up, front passenger seat. Because these will be original manufacturer parts then there will be no problem when it comes to matching the vehicles' interior trim. All Toyota Centres will support the programme and be able to carry out fitting.

But there won't simply be cars at the show. Some eye-catching vehicles can be seen and, in the case of the Triketec three-wheeled Roadster, ridden. It looks like a Harley-Davidson, but is a tad more evil. This is the only trike with anti-lock brakes, electronic traction control and a stability programme, and automatic tiptronic transmission as standard, so riding one could not be easier or safer.

If you don't want a bike and prefer to show off on four wheels, you could have a go on and, most importantly, see if you could live with, a Qpod. It's a range of distinctive open-topped budget cars launched by Noel Edmonds's Unique Motor Company.

On the opening day Paralympic gold medal winner Dame Tanni Grey Thompson will present prizes to winners of the roadshow's Ready Willing and Mobile competition. This encourages schoolchildren aged from seven to 14 to think of a bright idea to help young disabled people to get on the move.

Test-drive registration for the show can be booked at the roadshow website or on the day. Driving licences are required. Wheelchairs and scooters can also be booked, some on the day. This service is free, subject to a refundable deposit.

Mobility Roadshow 2006, 8-10 June, Kemble Airfield, near Swindon ( www.mobilityroadshow.co.uk). Mobility Choice: 0845 241 0390

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