I’ve always viewed Permobil as the Ferrari of wheelchairs so I was really excited when they asked me to review their new 2021 Permobil M3 Corpus power wheelchair. And since we love exploring and being outdoors it was a lot of fun putting the Permobil M3 through its paces. Here is my review having used it for a few months.
Permobil as a brand has always caught my eye when on display at disability events I’ve attended such as Naidex. I also have friends who love their Permobil wheelchair so my NHS Quickie Salsa R wheelchair is more basic and less superior in comparison.
So it goes without saying the Permobil M3 is the fanciest power wheelchair I’ve ever used.
As I mentioned in my post about getting a new wheelchair, I’ve had my current chair for almost eleven years and thankfully wheelchairs have improved in that time.
Getting my hands on the new Permobil M3 was exciting, but I was worried I’d love it and not want to give it back at the end of the trial. So how did it go? What are my thoughts on this top of the range power wheelchair?
Permobil M3 Review
Let’s start with the look of the Permobil M3, which is clearly one of the main selling points. There is no denying this is a striking wheelchair. It is super stylish and comes with a great selection of accent colours, metallic colours and hydrographics to choose from, making it more personable to you.
I love how many personalisation options there is with Permobil compared to any wheelchair I’ve had previously. Not only does it look stylish, but it also looks great quality, made from strong, reliable materials.
Now let’s talk about driving and how it performs both indoors and outdoors.
The ‘M’ in Permobil M3 stands for mid-wheel drive. I have always had rear-wheel drive wheelchairs, so it took a little while to get the hang of driving with six wheels instead of four.
If you’ve had or have a rear-wheel you will know how tricky it can be sometimes to manoeuvre through narrow corridors and doorways. Even turning in a circle can involve a number of manoeuvres.
However, the compact base on the Permobil M3 is designed to offer greater manoeuvrability in tight spaces. Turning was super easy, which is perfect for the tightest turning radius, especially good for indoor accessibility. I’d even go as far as saying, I could turn on a pinhead.
The FlexLink suspension on the Permobil M3 provides greater balance and stability for a smoother ride. There’s nothing worse than feeling every single little bump when driving over rough terrain.
Not only is driving over bumps painful but due to poor trunk control, I can become easily unbalanced which then affects my ability to drive my wheelchair. I enjoyed the advanced vibration reduction and the way the suspension adapted to the environment, making each ride comfortable.
Usually, the slightest bump or driving up/down a kerb can force my upper body forward. To prevent this from happening I’ll either wear my chest harness or have the person I’m with hold my shoulders back.
But when we took the Permobil out for a stroll in a local park, I tested it out by going over speed bumps and kerbs. I definitely noticed a difference and I didn’t need my shoulders held back. (Check out the video at the end of this post to see it in action)
I felt stable and comfortable – my upper body barely moved. I didn’t go at top speeds, so I can’t say how stable I’d be in those situations. But I was impressed.
Sitting in the same position all day isn’t good for anyone and can lead to various health problems such as pressure sores. So having the ability to change positions throughout the day is so important particularly wheelchair users who, like myself are unable to stand/walk or even just slightly change position independently.
That’s why I love the various seating positions the Permobil M3 offers including tilt, recline, leg elevation and the option to lay flat. Perfect for napping, but most importantly relaxing and relieving pressure from your back and bottom.
The Permobil wheelchair comes with its own seat cushion, but since I have my own custom mould cushion, I was able to switch and use that instead. It worked well and it provided me with the extra support I need.
ActiveHeight and ActiveReach
ActiveHeight on the Permobil M3 elevates the seat height up to an impressive 12”. I’ve never had seat elevation on any of my previous wheelchairs, so it was a real treat having the option to see my surroundings from a new (and higher) perspective.
ActiveHeight seat elevation enables you to reach for things higher up as well as being at the same eye level as the people you are with.
Personally, I’m going to love seat elevation at music gigs because if you’ve read any of my gig reviews then you will know I often have difficulty seeing the stage because of people standing in front of me.
And your speed isn’t affected when using seat elevation. Amazing
Then there is ActiveReach which tilts the seat forward up to 20 degrees. This works nicely with elevation as it is better for reaching things. It is also good for getting a little closer to a table you’re sitting at.
While out enjoying a wheelchair accessible walk, I got to use the ActiveHeight seat elevation to see the view from up a steep trail. I loved that!
Permobil M3 Corpus Specifications:
- Speed. 10 km (6.2 mph)
- Seat Elevator: 12 ”
- Seat Tilt. -20° to 50°
- ActiveReach: 5°, 10° & 20°
- Legrest Elevation:85° – 180°
- Recline Options: 85° – 180°
- Driving Range: 13 – 20 miles
- Turning Radius. 56 cm
- Weight Including Batteries: 385 lb
- 2x brighter LED lights
The Intelligent Control System (ICS) is the control buttons positioned at the back of the wheelchair. It controls the powered seat functions and can be operated by the person you are with if you want to change your position.
Personally, I would find this helpful if I’m in a reclined position as I wouldn’t be able to lift my arm back up to the joystick. This would also come in handy when I’m out in colder temperatures and unable to move my hands easily to operate the buttons myself. I could simply ask whoever I’m with to use the ICS and change my position.
The ICS can be moved and attached to another part of your wheelchair for easier access if you are unable to operate the functions on the main joystick controller.
There is also the option to set and save three positions with the pre-programmed modes. This is great if you have a favourite position for during the day, or a more relaxed position for watching TV or one for getting in/out of your wheelchair accessible vehicle (WAV).
It’s completely up to you and can be changed to suit your changing needs.
The Permobil M3 Corpus powerchair comes with powerful LED lights in the front and back. Again, I’ve never had lights on my previous wheelchairs so I enjoyed having this feature.
They were particularly useful when outdoors at night and I can imagine they’d be super helpful when we’re at music festivals or finding our way back to the car at night.
I don’t often go out at night for walks, but again these powerful LED lights would be perfect for that and provide that extra bit of safety. We did, however, have fun trying them out indoors and were impressed with how bright they were.
The LED lights are two times brighter with indicators and hazard features too.
Here’s a summary of my favourite features on the Permobil M3:
- Super stylish
- Personalisation options
- Tightest turning radius
- FlexLink suspension
- Greater balance and stability for a smoother ride
- Range of seating positions
- Seat elevation
- The ICS
- Top speeds
- Advanced vibration reduction
Permobil M3 Seat Height
So, I’ve mentioned all the things I like about the Permobil M3 Corpus. So what about the things I don’t like so much?
Personally, there is only one downside to this power wheelchair and that’s the seat height.
Okay, I know I’ve raved about how amazing seat elevation is and all the benefits being seated higher can bring. Don’t get me wrong I really do love having the option to rise if needed, but in general, I found the standard floor to seat height too high for me.
When sitting in the Permobil M3 even when at the lowest height, I was seated a good two to three inches higher than my current wheelchair. This difference in height meant I couldn’t roll under my desk, dining table or bathroom sink which made functioning in my home difficult.
This won’t be an issue for everyone, but it is something to bear in mind especially if you are going from a wheelchair with a very low seat height, like myself.
The seat height also meant I was sitting higher in my wheelchair accessible vehicle (WAV), which is also something to consider when getting a new wheelchair.
Speaking of WAVs, the Permobil M3 I tried was slightly wider for getting in and out of the vehicle. Getting lined up and reversing out was a little tricky.
Final thoughts on the Permobil M3 Corpus Powerchair
Despite the seat height being high, the Permobil M3 Corpus is a great powered wheelchair. The FlexLink suspension and advanced vibration reduction make the ride smoother with fewer bumps and jolts.
I absolutely love the range of seating positions and how easy it is to independently change my position throughout the day whenever I feel sore or uncomfortable.
The top speeds and battery size make this wheelchair feel powerful and reliable for outdoor driving.
If you’d like to see more details and get a closer look at the Permobil M3 Corpus then please do check out my video…
Find out more about the Permobil M3 Corpus here on the Permobil website.
Disclaimer: As always, all views and opinions in this post are that of my own and are 100% honest.
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