Reviewed by Louise Totton
I was absolutely delighted to be asked to review the Britax Advansafix car seat, as my nearly three year old daughter was starting to look a little squashed in her stage 1 car seat.
This particular seat appealed to me for two main reasons. The first it the ISOFIX fittings for the seat. I have wanted to buy an ISOFIX seat for my daughter for quite sometime, but they tend to be more expensive than belted seats and I was nervous of making the wrong choice. The second reason this seat really stood out for me is the extended time the child can use the safety harness before switching to the three point safety belt in the car. Most car seats suggest a transition between 15-18kg, and at nearly 14kg and several months off her third birthday, I’m in no way ready for her to be in an adult seatbelt. The Advansafix offers prolonged harness use up to 25kg – a weight my 5 year old has not yet reached.
The first experience I had with the product was checking Britax’s website for compatibility with my car. This is not a universal fit seat, and cannot be fitted with the three point seatbelt if ISOFIX is not available. The website clearly and concisely listed which makes and models of cars are suitable (as well as the ISOFIX anchor points, the car also has to be fitted with a third tether anchor). If your car does not have this tether anchor, the seat is not suitable.
Given that my car was suitable, we ordered the seat in the Dark Grape colour. When it arrived, I was struck by several things. Firstly, this is a very heavy, sturdy car seat. It looks and feels very robust and certainly looks like a top-end seat.
The Dark Grape colour we’d chosen was really lovely. Bright enough to be appealing to children, but still looks classy and understated in the back of my car. This fabric option also has a little owl printed on it, which delighted my daughter (she now calls it her owl seat).
The instructions that came with the car seat were very clear and concise. They set out how the seat should be set up for different weights of children really clearly and again listed the various cars the seat was compatible with. I have always found fitting belted car seats to be an utter nightmare. Apart from the almost inevitable slight wobble in fitting, following the diagrams for how to route the seatbelt is never easy, and on first appearances, it looked like the fitting of this car seat would be simple. Fingers crossed!
As suggested by the instructions, I first of all checked all the fittings on the car and prepared the seat so the headrest and straps were in the right position for my daughter’s height. This was very simple to do, the instructions showed clearly both the correct adjustment in relation the child’s height, and the mechanics of adjusting the seat. Lovely and simple so far, and I was impressed by how comfortable my daughter looked in it (although at this stage, it was still sat on my dining room floor!). It was now time to fit the beast into my car!
The first time we fitted our previous stage 1 car seat, it took over an hour to get a fit we were comfortable with, and at certain particularly tricky points, could easily have ended in a divorce between my husband and I. So I decided to attempt this one on my own.
The first stage (after engaging the ISOFIX points on the seat and removing the transport cover) is to guide the locking arms of the seat into the insert guides of the car ‘using firm, even, pressure’ until they click into place and the green safety button becomes visible. Seems so simple. And it was. I did have to move the passenger seat right forward to get full access so I could by my full body weight onto the seat to get it to click, but it wasn’t too tricky and it immediately felt completely sturdy in situ. The green safety buttons were fully visibly, which took any guesswork at all out of the instillation.
The second step was to feed the seatbelt through the back of the seat, much like a more traditional car seat installation. This was very simple. I do have small hands and wondered if a man with larger hands might struggle, but it was a very simple feed with a strong clip to secure the belt into place afterwards. Again, it just couldn’t have been easier.
The final step is to secure the tether strap to the car. This anchor point in my car was located in the boot, and I believe this is the case for all anchor points. This was a simple case of feeding the strap around the headrest and securing the strap with a strong clip to the hook in the car. It is then tightened in the same way as an airline seatbelt until the indicator turns green. Again, this takes any guess work out of the installation, and I was confident that in less than 15 minutes, I had a perfectly fitted and secured car seat. It defiantly felt very well attached; I couldn’t wiggle the seat at all. It was like it was part of the structure of the car. Fitting wise and confidence wise, top marks so far.
Then we started to actually use the seat. My daughter looked so much more comfortable in this seat than she had in her previous seat. I also think it looks less like a ‘baby’ seat, so she felt like a big girl like her sister.
When it comes to loosening and tightening the straps, this seat knocks the socks off any of the 6 or 7 baby seats I have previously owned (2 kids and 2 cars!). There is absolutely no tugging or yanking required. The straps simply glide out, as they should, and equally they tightened really easily too. The chest pads on the seat were soft and have a slightly grippy backing, so they stay really nicely in place and didn’t irritate my daughter.
The clip and buckle on this seat is also much better than any of the others I have used. The two sides actually fit into each other before they are inserted into the buckle, which I found made buckling it up so much easier. I normally have to have a few goes at mishandling them into place and dropping them before I manage to get my wriggly 2 year old strapped in. No such problems here.
Of course, with this being a 123 car seat, the chances are, at some point, you will need to remove the harness to use the seat with a normal seatbelt for an older child. Or have to remove the harness to wash the cover if they get dirty. This has long been one of my least favourite jobs, as I find take in the harness out and re positioning it an absolute nightmare.
It is actually pretty simple with this seat. The instructions detail the removal and reattachment procedures in good detail, and it really is as simple to do as it states. Reattaching them is slightly more fiddle, but again, nothing that can’t be done inside 10 minutes. The fabric is, as would be expected, machine washable, and the cover is simple enough to remove.
I really am so very impressed with this seat. The ease of fitting, I found quite amazing. I am incredibly impressed by just how solid, sturdy and safe the seat feels in the car and my daughter really likes sitting in it. It is quick and fiddle-free to buckle her in correctly so my back doesn’t get soaking wet if we’re caught in a heavy rainstorm. Added to this, we know that she will be able to stay safely harnessed in for some years to come, and the seat will potentially last her for another 8 years.
For £220, I think this represents an absolute bargain. I am now a convert to ISOFIX, and to Britax seats. I am going to start researching a similar seat for my older daughter, I am so impressed by how safe this one feels and how good it looks.
A fantastic product.
Available to buy online from www.britax-roemer.co.uk.