There are so many different reasons for choosing a car. It is often based on an emotional decision. Sometimes it is based on a practical decision, and most often it is a bit of both. So why did Mlungisi Khumalo and Celia du Toit both choose the Hyundai ix35?

Mlungisi Khumalo had polio as a young child. It never occurred to him that he would be able to drive until he saw one of his teachers who had a disability driving her car with hand controls. This planted the seed of a new dream for him. He grew up using crutches and was only able to go to school when he was 11 years old because he was unable to cover the distance of the two hour walk to and from school. He went to high school at Philadelphia in Pretoria and then qualified as a teacher. When he worked in Cape Town he had a friend that owned an adapted car and he learned to drive. At the moment he is employed at the Union Buildings in the Office of the Vice-President and he is fortunate enough to get chauffeured around, so he only drives his own car on weekends.

He chose the ix35 for its easy access into the vehicle; the size of he driver’s door opening in combination with the seat height and the double tube side steps, which he uses as a step for getting into and out of the vehicle. His previous car was an Audi A4 but it used a lot of effort to get into and out of the low driver’s seat. The seat height of the ix35 is 76cm, which is a comfortable height for him. It also has a very wide door opening with 97cms of legroom, which he needs to get his legs through the door opening because he wears callipers and therefore his knees do not bend very well. The car’s indicators are on the right hand side and he drives with a left-hand hand control. He prefers activating the indicator with his steering hand. He uses the Independent Drive System push-pull system because his wife also regularly drives the car and these controls leave the pedals open to be used by able body drivers.

He enjoiys the car’s jam-packed features, the cruise control for travelling long distances, the radio with CD/MP3 with the controls on the the steering wheel, the voice activated bluetooth, and the leather seats. Unfortunately, the tilt and height adjustment on the steering wheel cannot be used in combination with the hand controls.

Celia du Toit is a T12 paraplegic and her husband also uses a wheelchair. She chose the ix35 for the large boot space and the flexible, multipurpose internal space, as they need to transport two wheelchairs. Celia is the current Chairperson of Wheelchair Tennis SA, and with her active tennis commitments she often needs to take her tennis wheelchair, as well as her day chair. Her tennis chair fits easily into the boot and when her husband’s chair needs to come too, they just fold the seats forward to create a huge area for transporting wheelchairs. As a T12 paraplegic she has a good strong transfer, and she is really tall, so the high driver’s seat is not a problem. She easily loads her light weight Quickie Xenon and the whole process of getting into the car and loading her chair takes less than a minute!

For Celia the other features that appealed to her were the safety features of the car, such as the six airbags and the ABS brakes and electronic stability control. She was injured in a car accident, so the safety features of the car are of great importance to her. She has grown to love the rear parking camera which is incorporated into the electro-chromic rear view mirror. She admits that this has allowed her to become very lazy with judging her reversing as she relies on the feedback from the camera. She also likes the leather seats as they don’t show the dirt from the loading of wheelchairs. The visual appeal of the car was important to her.

She loves the look of the car with its quality finishes, which is also why she uses the Independent Drive System hand control because the system is neatly fitted.
The ix35 has many features that are ideal for drivers with disabilities. The push button start and smart key entry, as well as the step gate shift pattern on the six speed automatic gear box, are great features for people with limited hand function. Dual zone climate control and voice activated bluetooth for hands-free answering of the phone and use of the navigation system. The size of the boot and the flat loading surface offers ample space for an electric scooter, or power wheelchair in conjunction with a hoist to lift it in.

The ix35 has three derivatives - Premium, Executive and Elite – all available with an automatic gearbox in both petrol or diesel, however they all have a standard 2.0 litre motor. It retailes from around R300 000.

The vast range of features and the versatile space of the ix35 make it a popular choice amongst drivers with disabilities, as it is able to meet so many different needs.