Road Test - Peugeot Boxer 3

The Peugeot Boxer 3 is not just any old “people mover”, it is a remarkably versatile, comfortable and high performing “people in wheelchairs mover”! Their advertising logo states that it is “made to measure” well they certainly got their measurements right for this group of people. What their logo does not state is that it is “wheelchair friendly” and I believe that they can justifiably add that to the list of features about this vehicle that they are proud of.So what makes it so “Wheelchair friendly” ?

Firstly the roof height.
On the “high top” option, the generous internal height is 1.9m. This means that an attendant is able to walk around inside the vehicle, and lift and move people, without injuring their back as they can do so without having to crouch over. The “low top” option is less convenient with an approximate internal height of 1.56m – fine if you have a short helper! The next friendly feature is the height of the floor.
The Boxer is front wheel drive with the engine positioned at the front of the vehicle. This means that there is no prop shaft running through to the rear of the vehicle and as a result the floor height is lower than most of the other vehicles in this class. The height of the floor affects the length of the ramps needed, if ramps are used to access the vehicles. If people are lifted manually into the vehicle it also means that they do not have to be lifted as high. With the floor height at 525mm, the minimum length of a ramp with a gradient of 1:6. (which is the minimum recommended gradient for a power wheelchair) is 3.15m. Amazingly the length of the loading area is 3.17m, so you don’t even have to use a folding ramp! How is that for “made to measure”? The longest portable ramp available through JessenDakile is 3.1m! When folded this measures 1.58m which easily fits across the 1.87m width of the Boxer.

Fitting a lift to this vehicle is a piece of cake, as both the sliding side doors and rear barn doors are more than big enough to accommodate a lift.

The lift in the back does reduce some of the visibility through the rear view mirror, but there is still enough visibility around it, especially when combined with the large, well designed wing mirrors.

The next friendly fact is that the windows are positioned perfectly to allow a person seated in their wheelchair to see out. In other vehicles, such as the Toyota Quantum, the windows are positioned a bit low which means that only short wheelchair users can see out. The bottom of the Boxer window is 0.9m off the floor with the top being 1.39m. This allows short and tall wheelchair users to see out quite comfortably – they can even see the sky without breaking their necks!

Another ”made to measure” is the space between the wheel arches, 1.41m. This will allow two small to medium sized wheelchairs to fit next to each other in the space – with a couple of centimetres to spare!
A very common problem with these larger vehicles is that there is either a lot of sway in the back of the vehicle or it has a very hard ride. This is exaggerated
when a person is travelling in wheelchair. The new, fancy, suspension on the Boxer corrects this. For those who want the details: the front has a pseudo McPherson-type wishbone front suspension, with an anti-rollbar, offering real stability, excellent road holding and exceptional drivability, and on the back it has a progressive leaf spring system. Whatever it is called, it works! It has sufficient suspension for heavy loads yet a comfortable ride with low loads. Two young ladies who travelled in this Boxer 3 all the way from Gauteng to Stellenbosch and back, in their wheelchairs, gave feedback that it was really comfortable and they did not notice any swaying. Dion Bishop, who drove the vehicle on this trip, and who has driven plenty of these types of vehicles, also commented on how good the road
handling was, even in a strong cross wind.The new Peugeot Boxer 3 was launched in mid 2007. It has a redesigned loading area which has optimised the amount of space available inside the vehicle, and it has two new turbo diesel engine confi gurations, both of which are Euro4 compliant (low emissions). The 2.2L HDi 88kW engine has a double flywheel, a piston cooling mode and special engine mapping. The 3.0L Hdi 110kW is a completely new engine with a Common Rail injection system which is capable of regulating the pressure from 450 to 1800 bar according to demand. That means it is a very efficient engine that can automatically adjust itself to perform at optimal fuel consumption under a variety of conditions. The expected fuel consumption around town for the 3.0L is approximately 9km/l and 10km/l for the 2.2L.It is available in a medium (M), long (L) and extra long (L2) wheel base. The medium wheelbase can comfortably carry 4 wheelchairs (6 at a squeeze) the long wheelbase can carry 6 comfortably, while the extra long wheelbase can carry 8 at a squeeze (depending on the size of the wheelchairs). The medium wheelbase with the standard top is the only one that weighs less than the 3500kg limit for the Code B (previously Code 8) licence. All the other models require a Code C (old Code 10) licence.The versatility of the internal arrangements is amazing. Peugeot will fit the internal compartment exactly according to the individual’s needs, and they have a number of partners who work with them who guarantee a good standard of workmanship. They can fit lifts, ramps, tie down systems, floor coverings, air-conditioning, headrests to prevent whiplash in wheelchair users, etc. You name it, they will get it done for you. The Peugeot Isando Commercial Centre have a fully wheelchair accessible Boxer available as a demo vehicle – as shown in the photos - so it is possible to get into it and really test it. In this model they have fitted two single front seats, allowing easy access to the rear of the vehicle.The safety features certainly measure up to the standards of the rest of the vehicles. The brakes include Anti-lock braking system (ABS) and Electronic Brake Force Distribution (EBFD) – with brakes like these make sure that any wheelchairs in the back are well secured! A reinforced rigid steel structure serves as a barrier to protect passengers, strengthened front doors increase overall rigidity, the front axles are designed to deflect part of the energy under the body of the vehicle in the event of a frontal collision, and of course an air bag fitted to the driver’s side. In the event of impact, the failsafe fuel system automatically disconnects the fuel supply to limit the risk of fire. Automatic locking of doors while driving prevents any unsecured wheelchairs from rolling out the back with the remarkable acceleration of this large vehicle.

This lovely All-rounder is available from about R240 000 for the ML, and R245 000 for the MH, depending on size and shape and optional extras.

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