It is refreshing to see a modern powered wheelchair with front-wheel drive, as this drive has become increasingly rare these days. The tendency of front-wheel drive to "fishtail" means it is less intuitive to drive, and generally only chosen by those who are already familiar with it, or bariatric users for whom it offers the best performance. Despite this, front-wheel drive has much to offer once you are used to it - offering better outdoor performance than mid-wheel drive (albeit with reduced kerb-climbing of just 7 cm), and much improved turning compared to rear-wheel drive.
The Q500 F's base is a development of the Puma 40's one, with improved performance and suspension. The Puma 40 had been designed so it could be easily changed between front and rear-wheel drive, which resulted in compromises in the suspension - in practice people tend to stick with one or the other - the Q500 F has been built as a dedicated front-wheel drive wheelchair. Full Track Suspension System smooths out the bumps, and Spirit Level Technology means the drive wheels are connected by a pivot bar to ensure both wheels remain in contact with the ground when going around corners or across slopes, maximising traction. The suspension springs are adjustable to take into account your driving style and weight. Front-wheel drive results in good manoeuvrability in restricted spaces, helped by the compact base and inrigged castor arms.
The standard batteries are large 60 Ah ones - these can be upgraded to 80 Ah ones for an impressive 25 mile range; note that this does increase the seat height slightly. Powerful four-pole motors are available in speeds of up to 8 mph, although we would recommend no more than 6.5 mph for the best range and torque. If opting for high speeds, we would strongly recommend the Gyro-Tracking System upgrade on the Q500 F, which helps to keep you on track, correcting small deviations caused by uneven ground and cambers. This is also advised for those using special controls, to provide a much easier driving experience with less actions required to maintain your course.
The Q500 F features the Sedeo Pro seating system - highly configurable seating that can be set up to your exact size, and with a vast range of options to provide the comfort and support that you require. Sedeo Pro is modular, meaning that should your requirements change in the future, it can be adjusted or have new components fitted, so that your wheelchair always provides appropriate seating.
With a weight capacity of 25 stone, seat widths of 15 - 22 inches, and depths of 16 - 22 inches, the Sedeo Pro seat can fit people of all shapes and sizes. The Sedeo cushions and backrests provide exceptional comfort, and the highlight is the Deep and Extra Deep Contour backrests that feature flexible sides that form to your body shape by "hugging" you in place - these are unlike any other seating on the market, and really have to be tried out to be believed. If you require higher levels of pressure relief or postural support, then Sunrise's wide array of seating options can be fitted, including many different armrests, lateral supports and thigh guides, JAY cushions and backs and Whitmyer headrests. Third-party components can be fitted too, for example if you have an existing cushion or back you wish to transfer across.
Powered seating upgrades are available, including a 30 cm seat lifter to allow you to reach high-up objects or be at eye-level in social situations. This is provided in a combi lift/tilt module - alternatively tilt can be supplied separately, in up to 50° for high levels of pressure relief. Powered recline is a popular option for those that intend to spend most of the day in the wheelchair, as it allows you to lie back and relax - this is often combined with a powered elevating and articulating centre-mount footrest or separate elevating swing-away legrests to relax your position further. The recline is available in an anti-shear option, which we would recommend if you have pressure or postural needs, to reduce friction that might otherwise cause skin breakdown and to keep your support components in the same position relative to your body.
The Q500 F is fully crash-tested, so can be used in your wheelchair adapted vehicle for occupied transport. A docking station can be easily fitted, as the Q500 F is pre-prepared for the DAHL system, which makes it simple to lock your wheelchair in place within a car, whether you are driving or travelling as a passenger.
The standard controls on the Q500 are the simple and reliable VR2 system, which can control up to two powered seating options (e.g. lift and tilt). More advanced R-Net controls are available, which can control more than two powered seating upgrades, as well as having the option for an HD LCD screen to provide clear feedback on your chair's performance. Bluetooth and Infrared modules are available with R-Net, allowing you to connect seamlessly with and control your environment, such as a laptop, smartphone, television or other household appliance.
If you require special controls, such as additional buttons or head or chin controls, the Link-It mounting system allows these to be fitted in endless configurations to precisely accommodate your needs, while the clean design doesn't compromise the appearance of your wheelchair.
The pictures really speak for themselves, but it is worth emphasising that throughout the design of the Q-series, Sunrise Medical had looks in mind - with components and wiring hidden to leave a sleek, clean and modern appearance. The matt-black chassis can be offset with your choice of coloured inlays (green, black, blue, orange, red, silver and white), which can be easily replaced should you wish to alter your style. We believe the Q-series are some of the best looking powerchairs on the market at present, a massive improvement from the clunky, industrial looks of older days.
Offering excellent performance indoors and out, a stylish modern appearance, and seating that is both comfortable and configurable, the Q500 F is an impressive front-wheel drive powerchair at a much lower price point than the competition.
The alternatives are all significantly more expensive than the Q500 F. Quantum's 4Front is similarly modern and stylish and has better powered seating options including iLevel (drive at walking pace while elevated) and lie-flat 175° recline. Permobil have long set the standard for front-wheel drive, and therefore we highly recommend trying their F3 Corpus alongside the Q500 F. Otherwise, the Quickie Q700 F (the next front-wheel drive model up in the Q-series range) offers softer "spongier" suspension, and the same Sedeo Pro seating.