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Motability Explained: The best cars, the best deals

Motability Explained: The best cars, the best deals

30 August 2022 Concept Car

Most people with disabilities learn to cope with their situation. But reduced mobility usually remains an issue throughout your entire life. For those most severely restricted, the UK’s Mobility Allowance has made things a lot easier.

The allowance is not huge. Even its most enhanced version ends at just under £250 a month. But the amount of liberty it buys is incredible. Thanks to this additional financial injection, those with impairments gain back a lot of freedom and the ability to participate in social life to a much higher degree.

But how to best spend that money?

While you could obviously invest it into buying a car, the motability program offers an alluring alternative: Get a leased car, all expenses paid (except for fuel), for the price of your monthly allowance.

Some incredible cars are part of the program. So this is clearly an attractive concept. But is it actually better than buying a car? And if so, which cars are best for you?

In this special, we’ll take a deeper look at the motability program and help you decide. Are you interested in a suitable car and are have trouble getting a loan with a bank? We’re always more than happy to assist. Just give us a call or get in touch using our contact form.

What is motability and who runs it?

As mentioned, motability is a leasing scheme for those currently receiving an enhanced Mobility Allowance. It has sometimes been referred to as the best example for bulk buying power.

Motability is not a government run scheme. It is a private organisation turns over a quite healthy profit each year. It also holds massive reserves of almost 2,5 Billion Pounds.

But it does work with the official mobility programs seamlessly. If you choose to go with the program, your allowance will automatically be paid to Motability at the end of each month, for example. This means that the entire experience is very smooth, simple and straight-forward for you.

Motability was primarily founded for a variety of important reasons.

  • Even with the additional allowance, the costs of car ownership can be very high for those with disabilities. The kind of cars suited to their needs tend to be more expensive and have to be fitted with adjustments.
  • Many with disabilities are finding it harder to get a loan.
  • Even leasing companies would often be loath to entrust them with a car for fear of insurance claims.
  • The entire process of selecting and then maintaining a car can be intimidating. It only adds to the already sky high complexity of everyday life for those with disabilities. Motability aims to improve on that.

So how does Motability work?

Essentially, you can think of Motability as a leasing scheme with benefits.

  • You can choose from a large catalogue of models.
  • All of them have been carefully selected because they already fit the profile.
  • Each one of them makes for a great choice if you’re having mobility issues.

Motability negotiates the rates for these cars directly with manufacturers for hundreds of thousands of customers. This way, they can get far better deals than a single dealer ever could.

Just as with any regular leasing deal, the contract runs for three years. At the end of that period, Motability will send you a reminder to start looking for a new car. You can then decide to continue using the program or look for different options instead.

What are the benefits of Motability?

For most people with disabilities, the advantages of the Motability program sound like a dream come true:

  • A great selection of cars ideally suited to your needs.
  • Considerably cheaper than a comparable leasing scheme.
  • RAC coverage included. So if you ever run into trouble on the road, you can always rely on someone to help you.
  • Once you’re part of Motability, your allowance is automatically paid towards your lease. So there’s never any hassle of unpaid instalments or the allocation of funds.
  • Insurance coverage for up to three drivers. You need to specify these drivers at the beginning of your term. Importantly, you don’t need to include yourself.
  • Everything except fuel is paid for.

When we say everything is paid for – do we really mean ‘everything’?

Pretty much. In a helpful overview, Motaclarity have summed up the paid-for parts of the package:

  • “All servicing and maintenance carried out by your chosen Motability dealer
  • Full breakdown cover from the RAC
  • Annual road tax (Motability Scheme cars are Vehicle Excise Duty (VED) exempt)
  • Free replacement tyres fitted by Kwik-Fit
  • Window and windscreen repair or replacement
  • Many adaptations fitted at no extra cost
  • A dedicated Motability customer service helpline”

That’s an impressive package for sure and nothing you could ever hope to get if you were to negotiate a deal for yourself alone.

In fact, Motability is so utterly incredible at first sight that it has drawn quite a bit or ire and rejection.

What’s not to like about Motability?

Well, for one thing, those with disabilities are not the only ones finding it hard to get reasonable car finance. Anyone with bad credit will know the experience of getting turned down, again and again, for something as basic as an automobile loan. Leasing is often not even an option for them.

To experience this rejection, while seeing one group of people seemingly get incredible deals can be painful. This may not be justified at all. But human beings are jealous by nature.

Even if you support the basic premise of Motability, many still feel the program has been too generous. Free adaptations make complete sense, for example. But do you really need free replacement tyres or those no-charge window replacements?

Also, some argue that more expensive cars of the program seem a bit too lavish for their own good. The mobility allowance was designed to allow disabled people to move around more freely, they claim, it was never intended to make them drive luxury cars.

A different perspective

It is definitely not wrong to discuss these topics. But it would be wrong to claim that Motability is an instrument for creating artificial benefits for one group of people over the average population.

It is important to stress that the exact opposite is the case. Motability, at best, makes the disabled as mobile as those without walking or sight impairments. What some may perceive as a luxury – an expensive car at next to no costs – is just a tool for those affected, something that will help them get from one place to another as safely and comfortably as possible.

The real issue is hardly that Motability is too generous.

It doesn’t seem right, either, to say that it includes the wrong kinds of cars. This is even more doubtful after the selection has been cut considerably over the last few years. Accordingly many expensive vehicles are no longer part of it.

The main problem is that there are still quite a few people who would strictly speaking not need the allowance but are still benefiting from it. How many? That’s any body’s guess. Of course, this abuse of the system should be corrected.

And yet, it would seem absurd to abolish this incredible program which has been so utterly helpful to thousands and thousands in the UK because of this.

So who is eligible for motability?

That is the question we should be asking instead. Essentially, you’re eligible for the program if you’re eligible for the extended Mobility Allowance.

What does this mean?

The fundamental criterion is that “your disability must be severe enough for you to have (…) walking difficulties, even when wearing or using an aid or equipment you normally use.”

The following walking difficulties concretely quality:

  • You are unable to walk because of a physical disability or you need someone to assist you with walking at all times.
  • You’re mentally impaired so severely that you need constant care.
  • You have no feet or legs.
  • If your eyesight has certifiably dropped to 0% and your hearing to less than 20%. The criteria for eyesight are more complex, but your ophthalmologist will be able to fill you in on the details.

Depending on the severity of your situation, you will receive either the low rate mobility allowance of £23.20 or the high rate mobility support of £61.20 per week. Only the latter qualifies you for participation in the Motability program.

Do you need to make use of motability?

The interesting thing is that Motability is by no means mandatory. You can literally spend the enhanced Mobility money on anything you want. The allowance is not adjusted to your level of income and no one is going to check what you use it for.

In practise, most, in fact, decide not to join Motability. The exact break-down is as follows:

  • Currently, 600,000 people use Motability to get access to a brand new car and all the benefits of the program.
  • Approximately 1 million people decide not participate in Motability and spend the money on something else.

So, as you can see, there is absolutely no law forcing you to make use of the benefits of Motability.

What cars can you choose from?

There is a comprehensive list of vehicles included on Motability. It is updated once a year in December. The new list will typically be similar to the old one. But there will definitely be changes. So if there’s a car you desperately want at all cost, make sure to get it before the new list comes around and may no longer include it.

Instead of replicating the list here, let’s instead go into the three levels of cars that are part of Motability:

  • Cars that will cost you less than your mobility allowance.
  • Cars that are priced exactly at the rate of your allowance.
  • There are also a few cars that are more expensive than your monthly allowance.

This layered approach means that you can select the car that’s right for you. If your needs are not particularly high, you can take a cheaper vehicle and still have some money left over at the end of the month. Or, if you want the best the market has to offer, you can invest a little more.

But how to make that decision? Ultimately, what you need to look at is what criteria a Motability car needs to fulfil.

Motability: What to focus on

To help you arrive at a sensible decision, we’ve searched the web for forum discussions and expert opinions to find out what people on a mobility allowance want and should get out of a car.

The following is an almost exhaustive list of criteria that fit the bill. Depending on your specific requirements, just one or all of these will apply. So take a closer look and see what you really need and what may be optional only.


Access is key for a Motability car. What use is an automobile, after all, if you can’t properly get into your seat, for example? Access is something different from space. A Vauxhall Astra can be a great Motability car, even though it’s rather small. What matters is that it is easy to get into and out of.

What decides ease of access? Mainly, door openings should be wide enough and leave enough ‘wiggle room’. A very small amount of cars offer doors which can open to a 90 degree angle. The latter is obviously ideal.

The trunk matters, too. Especially if you have a walking impairment, you will want to be able to take your crutches, walking frame or even wheelchair with you. A hands-free tailgate, or sensors which open the trunk if you swipe them, are extremely helpful in this regard.


Space is easily the second most important feature of a mobility-oriented car.

As mentioned, if you’re disabled, you’ll usually have to carry a lot more stuff with you. More space also equals easier access, so these two points go hand in hand.

It is important to pay attention to the relationship between space an ergonomics. An ergonomic layout of the dashboard, for example, is vital so you can easily make use of all the essential functions.

The bigger the car, the more difficult it can get to reach all controls. So make sure that you find a vehicle that meets both requirements.

Generally speaking, SUVs are probably ideal. They are spacious without sacrificing ergonomics. They also offer an elevated seating position for a better view of the road ahead and are usually excellent to access.


On top of these fundamentals, there are also a few extras which make sense for a Motability car. The following in particular come to mind:

  • Comfort seats: You may have particular needs for sitting. You may, for example, experience severe pain in standard car seats. Customised seats can be a solution. Sometimes, already a slightly more comfortable regular seat can do the trick.
  • Driver assistance technology: Progress in this field has been remarkable over the past years. Automatic parking is probably the most obvious benefit. Blind spot warning is great, too, though, as well as several helpful safety features.

It makes sense to pay for these extras, if need be. They can make all the difference between a good and a great driving experience.

What are the best Motability cars?

As mentioned, SUVs are usually considered the best Motability cars. One expert suggest the following list of Motability cars:

  • Citroen C5 Aircross SUV – mainly because of its excellence in driving comfort.
  • Kia Sportage – mainly because of the perfect layout of the cabin and dashboard.
  • Vauxhall Grandland X – mainly because of space considerations. (it is very big indeed)
  • Ford Focus – mainly because of “comfort, space and driver convenience”.

But an SUV is by no means your only option.

Buyacar singles out the following models as the best Motability automobiles:

  • Skoda Octavia
  • Hyundai Ioniq
  • Mini Countryman
  • Citroen C4 Cactus
  • Seat Arona

More than with any other car, you should make sure to take your potential Motability vehicle for a test drive. Everyone is different and it is important that you feel truly at ease in your car.

The Nissan Qashqai: King of Motability

There is a persistent rumour that the Nissan Qashqai is the UK’s best selling Motability car. Or, in fact, this isn’t so much a rumour as a fact you may simply not be aware of. It is even possible that one reason why Nissan’s crown jewel has been so omnipresent on UK roads are its superior Motability features.

It is easy to see why the Qashqai has been the king of Motability for such a long time. Whereas other cars may beat it in one or two categories, none even remotely offers the same allround experience. The Qashqai offers a smooth and comfortable driving experience, plenty of up to date technology, just enough space and all the advantages which naturally come with an SUV. It is also perfect in terms of access. Its no-frills dashboard feels equally unspectacular and instantly familiar.

The Qashqai also won’t break the bank. So if you’re looking for the one Motability vehicle to beat them all and can’t make up your mind, then this is the car for you.

Why Motability may not be cheapest

There are many reasons for joining Motability. However, we should also point out that there are plenty to avoid it.

To understand why such an alluring deal may not be ideal, we need to crunch some numbers.

Your monthly mobility allowance provides you with a budget of 4x£61.20 = £244.80 per month or 12x£244.80 = 2937.60 per year. For convenience’s sake, let’s round up those numbers to £250 and £1,000 each month respectively.

One way of using that money is to get a car through Motability. Let’s say your preferred model uses up the budget completely. Then you can simply use the car for three years, while paying only the cost of petrol. After those three years have elapsed, you can then renew your contract, You simply swap your current car for a new one and continue the process.

Nothing could be better than that, right?

Let’s conduct an experiment and find out.

Instead of going through Motability, you instead get a used car through your dealer. Let’s say this car sets you back £6,000. At that price level, you may, for example, be able to find a perfectly decent Nissan Qashqai or one of the other great Motability vehicles we mentioned above.

That seems like a lot of money. But actually, it’s easily within your Motability budget.

If you add all monthly payments together, your Motability car is going to cost you £9,000 over three years!

Granted, if you’re buying your car through a regular dealer, you will have to cover the costs of insurance, roadside assistance and some adjustments. But you have still got £1,000 per year for all of that. Which sounds like a very reasonable amount.

And there’s more. Let’s assume you need to use up those £1,000 each year. Then, after three years have elapsed, you will have spent your entire mobility allowance. However, the car is now yours! You’re not leasing, so after you’ve paid off the car, you can now use it for free for the next years.

Which should leave you with more money to spend on other things.

Even more benefits

If you think about it, there are even more benefits:

  • You can choose from a lot more vehicles instead of just the cars on the Motability list. Importantly, you can select from different car generations.
  • You can haggle with the dealer and try to get an even better deal. You could, for example, work towards getting the ideal trim level.
  • There is no mileage limit. Whether or not this is indeed a bonus depends on how much you intend to drive the car. Either way, it’s reassuring that you don’t need to watch the odometer.
  • With Motability, if you need to go to hospital for more than 28 days in a row, you will have to hand back your car. This restriction does not apply with a regular dealer car.

So is Motability a sham?

Not at all. For one, most of the restrictions are purely hypothetical. Having to hand in the car during an extended hospital admission is a benefit rather than a disadvantage. After all, you would be paying for a car that never gets used.

Whether or not you can get by on a budget of £1,000 for all side costs isn’t as clear cut as some make it out to be. Insurance in particular can be very expensive, especially for disabled drivers. If the amount you require rises considerably, then the entire argument in favour of a dealer contract crumbles.

Add to that the incredible comfort of the Motability package, which makes life so much easier for you.

Finally, financing may be easy for disabled drivers. It is here that Motability is particularly useful. It eliminates the need for credit checks or complicated loan arrangements.

Motability at CCC

Whether or not Motability makes sense is ultimately up to you. One thing’s for sure, though: If you’re looking for a dealership alternative, then buying your car at CCC is probably your best bet:

  • We can usually arrange financing for you. Our goal is to get you behind the wheel again. We can almost certainly find a suitable solution for you.
  • We have many cars in our showroom which meet the requirements of Motability at great prices.

If you’re interested, do drop by our Manchester showroom or browse our website to find the Motability car that’s perfect for you.

30 August 2022 Concept Car