Spitfire Scout 4 is a versatile, surprisingly portable little scooter, offered by one of the best brands in the business.
Recommended For: Recommended for anyone, provided that you’re not looking to take this scooter over rough, unforgiving terrain.
*Note regarding Brand Reliability: This metric is a measure of the strength and longevity of the brand, which by extension, is a measure of the level of support you can expect.
Are you in the market for a new wheelchair? Are you tired of using your old manual chair and looking for something automated and convenient to get you where you want to go?
If you answered yes to the questions above, what you read in this Drive Scout scooter review is bound to make you smile. The Spitfire Scout 4 isn’t a wheelchair per se; it’s a surprisingly robust battery-powered scooter that might be precisely what you’re looking for.
If you haven’t considered the option of a scooter until this very moment, you’re in for a treat. The Spitfire Scout is a modestly priced, surprisingly portable option offered by one of the biggest and best names in the industry.
We’ll be quick to point out that it’s not quite perfect, and it may not be a good fit for everyone. For the right user, it’s an absolutely amazing option.
Are you the user this tough little machine was made for? The short answer is that you may well be. In the sections that follow, we’ll walk you through every aspect of this machine, highlighting its best features and not shying away from describing its limitations, so you’ll be able to decide if this is the model you’ve been looking for.
If that sounds good to you, read on, and let’s take a closer look!
An Overview of the Drive Scout Scooter
The first thing you’ll notice about the Spitfire Scout 4 is that it’s a surprisingly sharp-looking machine.
Mostly black with your choice of red or blue highlights, it’s got a minimalist, rugged look to it that many people find quite appealing.
It also sports an open design, so you can see all of the major components at a glance. The battery pack is located just under the swivel seat, and there’s a modestly sized storage basket on the front of the unit, mounted to the steering column.
In short, it’s a simple, oddly appealing design. Before we do more than comment on the unit’s aesthetics in this section of our Drive Medical Scout scooter review, let’s take a quick look at the core stats that define this model. Here’s a quick overview:
- Overall Product Dimensions: 21.25” (W) x 42.5” (D) x 36” (H)
- Seat Dimensions: 16.5” (W) x 13” (D)
- Top Speed: 4.25 mph
- Maximum Range: 9 miles
- Wheel Size: 8” x 2”
- Maximum Climbing Angle: 6 degrees
- Turning Radius: 53.75”
- Ground Clearance: 2.5”
- Chair Weight: 94 pounds
- Maximum Supported Weight: 300 pounds
There’s quite a lot to talk about here. Some of the information in this section may make you fall in love with this rugged little scooter, while other details may make you furrow your brow in concern or confusion.
First of all, there’s the size and weight of the scooter to consider. It’s a fairly sizable piece of equipment. At 94 pounds, you might wonder how on earth this thing could be described as portable.
The answer lies in the fact that the machine is incredibly easy to disassemble and breaks into five more or less equally weighted pieces. That puts each piece weighing in the neighborhood of 20 pounds, which is light enough that almost anybody can work with. We’ll have more to say about that later on, but for now, rest assured that the scooter is much more portable than the raw numbers might indicate.
Second, the top speed and range are both good, but a bit underwhelming. Despite having a racy-sounding name, this machine isn’t exactly a speed demon.
Faster than some models on the market, yes, but certainly not best in class.
The range is likewise about the middle of the pack. Nine miles sounds like a lot until you’re actually using the unit. At that point, you’ll wish it had a longer range. Even so, for many everyday uses, that’s not bad.
The supported weight is strictly average. But with a 300-pound limit, this scooter is useful to some 95% of the market. There’s a catch, however. Check out the seat dimensions. These are actually quite small, and in practice, the diminutive seat size probably makes this model useful to about 85-90% of the market. That’s still pretty good, but it’s not as good as it could be in our view.
One thing we don’t really understand is this: The Drive Scout scooter only has a ground clearance of 2.5,” and yet, this is a four-wheel-drive machine.
That should make it fantastic at chewing through rough terrain, but that tiny ground clearance very much works against that notion. If you want to putter around your yard in this thing or spend the day at a park, you can probably do that, as long as you’re mindful of the terrain you’re passing over.
Just keep in mind, though, that with such a low ground clearance, it’s going to be notoriously easy to get hung up on obstacles that may require you to back up or, worse, get off the scooter and manually get it unstuck. If you’re considering the option of buying this unit because you have some type of mobility issue, that’s bad, and could present a daunting challenge.
All of that is to say that the low clearance on this model tends to work against the whole point of having 4-wheel drive. It doesn’t render it useless, but it does put hard limits on the machine.
Finally, there’s the turning radius of the Spitfire. It’s decent, but not great. Unless you have a positively gigantic house, this isn’t a scooter you’re going to be able to ride around inside, even though the company makes a point of talking about the no-skid tires on it.
The reason they draw attention to that particular feature, we feel certain, is that you can hop on this little machine, ride it up to the grocery or other store and drive it up and down the aisles without leaving tracks or skid marks and thus getting yourself banned for life.
Then, when you’re done, and you’ve picked up whatever supplies you were after, you should have plenty of juice left in the batteries to get you back home with your treasures.
One final thing to note here is that the company also makes a 3-wheeled version of this model called the Spitfire 3.
It’s a functionally similar design, other than having only one wheel at the front, but the Spitfire 3 weighs a bit less (84 pounds) and has a smaller turning radius (45.5”). If the weight or turning radius of the 4-wheeled version is problematic for you, the three-wheeled variant is a good option to consider.
Adjustability and Comfort
Although we find the seat size of the Drive Medical Scout 4 Compact Travel power scooter to be a bit underwhelming, there is a partial workaround for that if the seat isn’t quite wide enough for you, but you think you can make it work.
You can adjust the width of the padded armrests, allowing you to push them out and away from the seat to give you a little more width.
It’s not the most comfortable solution, but it’s an option if you need an extra half-inch or perhaps an inch of space to make the seat workable.
The seat swivels, and you can adjust the angle too, which gives you quite a lot of freedom and flexibility in terms of tweaking your seating position for maximum comfort.
Unfortunately, the arms and the seat are both covered in PU, which looks nice but doesn’t hold up well to the rigors of everyday use. The upholstery will probably start peeling and cracking after about 18 months if you plan to use this scooter every day and no matter how careful you are with it.
The good news on that front is that there’s really not a lot of upholstery to contend with. Once it starts showing its age, it’s easy enough to have the seat and arms re-covered in something more durable and long-lasting. Of all the components on this little machine, though, you can expect the upholstery to be the first thing to go.
Extras and Options
This is one of our favorite aspects of the Spitfire Scout 4. The company took pains to make sure that buyers had all sorts of options in terms of customization. The only “extra” that comes standard with the unit is the storage basket on the front, but there are lots of cool options available from the company.
Those options include:
- A cover, to protect your scooter from the elements
- A pull-behind trailer with a removable cover
- An Oxygen Tank holder (mounts behind the seat)
- A crutch/cane holder (mounts behind the seat)
- A cup holder (mounts beside the seat)
- A rear basket for extra storage
- An armrest bag for yet more storage
- And a backpack (slings over the seat) for yet more storage!
These are excellent, high-value additions that allow you to really customize the scooter to meet your precise needs. If you invest in all available storage options, you’ll have no difficulty toting pretty much anything your heart desires with you. Note too that these options are compatible with both the 3-wheel and the 4-wheel version of the Spitfire Scout.
About the only thing the extras don’t provide is some type of canopy, which would essentially turn the Spitfire into a miniature golf cart. You may be able to find something that works in the aftermarket if you’re really interested in acquiring one. You could also probably create a DIY canopy by making creative use of the cane holder, depending on how creative you are.
Overall though, this is an excellent array of extras. Of course, if you’re willing to look at products offered by third-party vendors, you can find all sorts of other optional equipment you can use to customize further.
Portability & Ease of Use
Turning our attention to portability, you’ve actually got a couple of different options here, but this is something you’ll want to consider before you commit to a purchase.
If you want to be able to transport the SFScout4 scooter and you don’t want to have to invest in any additional technology to do that, you’re going to have to resign yourself to taking the machine apart and storing the pieces wherever you can find room.
Each individual piece is fairly light. By breaking it up into five different pieces, you should have little difficulty finding places in the trunk or backseat to put it all. The tradeoff, of course, is that when you get where you’re going, you’ll have to spend time putting it together again before you can actually make use of it.
If you’d rather not be bothered with taking the Scout apart and putting it back together again, and if you have a truck or van, you can invest in a ramp and simply drive the scooter into the van or the back of the truck, secure it, and hit the road.
Then, when you get where you’re going, all you have to do is drive it back down the ramp, and you’re ready for action.
If that’s unworkable, then the other option is to invest in a lift for the back of your vehicle.
Drive the unit onto the lift, lift it up and secure it in place, drive to where you’re going, and lower the lift.
Again, you’re ready to roll mere minutes after you arrive at your destination.
The drawback with both the ramp and the lift options is the added cost, but at least it keeps you from having to spend time dismantling and reassembling your scooter.
Regarding air travel, that’s pretty much a non-starter for devices like these. Airlines take a dim view of battery-powered mobility aids because batteries are a fire hazard, and fire on an airplane in midair is something airlines actively try to avoid.
Even so, if you have your heart set on traveling by air with your scooter, it pays to at least contact the company you’ll be flying with and find out what their policies are.
Each airline has a different policy, but don’t be surprised if they tell you no.
Pros & Cons of Drive Medical Spitfire Scout 4
In no particular order, here are the things we think you’ll like best about the Spitfire Scout scooter:
- It’s delightfully low priced
- It’s surprisingly portable, and you’ve got a few different options for how you want to get it from point A to point B
- The company offers lots of great, high-value extras, giving you plenty of different ways to customize the scooter to better meet your needs
- It’s got four-wheel drive
- And it’s got a decent (but not great) top speed and maximum range
On the other hand, it does have some limitations to be mindful of. The big item here is the smallish seat size. You’ll definitely want to take a quick measurement of yourself to make sure you’ll fit comfortably in the seat before spending hundreds of dollars on this unit.
Another potential concern is the low ground clearance. 2.5” just isn’t a lot of space, and if you find yourself on rough terrain, it’s pretty easy to get yourself hung up. How big a problem that is for you will depend on the severity of your mobility issue, but it’s definitely something to be mindful of.
Drive Medical Scout Scooter Review Conclusion
Overall, we feel that the strong points of the Spitfire Scout far outweigh their negatives.
While we admit here in our Scout scooter review that this machine does have some limitations, it’s a solid, versatile little scooter that will serve the vast majority of the market very well. We recommend it.
References & Resources:
- Drive DeVilbiss Healthcare, Official Brand Website.
- Drive Medical Scout Spitfire 4 Scooter User Manual.
- Global Mobility Scooters Market is Expected to Grow With a CAGR of 4.39% Over the Forecast Period From 2020-2026, PR Newswire.
- Low Vision and Mobility Scooters, OTAGO Polytechnic.
- Driverless-Vehicle Options Now Include Scooters, MIT News.