The car’s great fuel consumption and the fact that it is not a popular car for hijacking are the main reasons that George Vori choose the Nissan Tiida. However, he drives around with two bullet holes in the side of his car after a failed hijacking attempt.

George moved to South Africa in 2005 and at the age of 18 he was knocked off his bicycle and ended up in a wheelchair. While he was busy looking for the best place to study to Mechanical Engineering, life threw him a curveball and he became a paraplegic. Life has already taught him some really hard lessons, and yet his resilience keeps him bouncing back and looking for new opportunities. His creative mind is full of exciting ideas and he hardly notices the stumbling blocks of living in a wheelchair.

The Nissan Tiida was not his first choice of car – his first love was his Mercedes C180 Compressor, but unfortunately as a young and inexperienced driver, he could not resist testing the speed of the C180 and managed to write it off. Another hard lesson! The Tiida was a safe, sensible and affordable choice of car. The car’s low fuel consumption, low maintenance costs, and good back up from Nissan was very attractive. The Tiida is solid and reliable – and not too fast, although it still has plenty of power for overtaking. It was a far more sensible choice for a young driver. For three years in a row, the Tiida won the fiercely contested C-segment award in the annual Kinsey Report on parts pricing, showing Nissan’s commitment to keeping the running costs to a minimum.

Living in a high crime zone, George did not want a hatch back where his wheelchair is always visible, so he looked around for a car with a large boot that could fit his electric wheelchair. The Tiida has a remarkably sized boot for such a small car, with a depth of 960mm and 1330mm wide. His wheelchair disappears in it – there is almost space for two. He pointed out the clever design where the seat folds down creating an opening through to the back seats from the boot. This enables long objects to be transported in a relatively small car.

The driving position works well for George. He is tall and that can be a challenge in a small car. The seat has a 30mm height adjustment, putting it at 600mm from the ground at its lowest height. This leaves a height difference of 70mm for his transfer from his wheelchair. He frequently changes the height of the steering wheel, preferring it higher in town when he is doing frequent transfers to create space for his legs, but dropping it lower for long distance driving as this makes the drive more relaxing on his shoulders. There is plenty of space under the dashboard for his long legs, even with the hand controls.

He has chosen the Easy Rider portable hand controls for a number of reasons. The adjustability of the hand control enables him to still use the height adjustment on the steering wheel, whereas the other permanently fitted controls restrict this movement. He likes driving with his dominant hand on the steering wheel so the left hand control suits him, but his main reason for his choice is because he can set it with his left hand very close to the steering wheel, and hook his left thumb over the steering wheel and the movement in the hand control enables him to move the control with the steering wheel, thus allowing him to still have a grip on the steering with his left hand if he needs to take the right hand off, when he puts his indicators on, etc.

The flip down arm rest is a great feature for people with poor balance or for those driving with hand controls, as it helps to provide stability and to rest the shoulder when driving for long periods. When it comes to people with limited hand function, the button on the gear shift is easily adapted as it is positioned on the side, and the ventilation controls are twist knobs which may require some minor adapting. The indicator lever is on the left and it is therefore better suited to having the hand control on the right.

The Tiida comes with electric power steering across all models, ABS anti-lock braking, EBD (Electronic Brake Force Distribution) and Brake Assist ensuring maximum grip and control, so that you can maneuver with agility in tricky situations. It has both driver and passenger airbags, the NATS (Nissan Anti-Theft System) fitted to all models, as well as the DataDot anti-theft identification system – a necessary feature for South African cars. The automatic gearbox is only available in the Tiida 1.6 Visia, priced at R222 500. Since the Tiida is locally built, it does not qualify for the import rebate. For those who prefer the versatility of a hatchback, the Tiida is available in a hatchback, but unfortunately this is only available in a manual.