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A few months back we had an utter disaster our £200 Maxi cosi Tobi broke just after its two year warrant ran out! I have two boys who are only eighteen months apart and my eldest is quite petite for his age, at three and a half years old his younger brother is nearly as big as him. We had to buy a new car seat but I really didnít want to have to buy the group 1 car seat to only use it for a few months. Searching online we found the group 2/3 maxi cosi rodi you would think after the trouble we had with the last one I would steer away from Maxi cosi but I think I am a bit of a car seat snob and have always liked the Maxi cosi. On going to get it from Halfords and trying our son in a display model he just looked too small for it. It was then I reluctantly tried him in a Britax, the reason, it still had a five point harness in it you could remove at a later date.
On first looking at the Britax Evolva in our local Halfords I could see how it would work for us with our son being small for his age. I was a little hesitant the snob coming out in me. It just looked a little bit cheap compared to a Maxi Cosi and the features looked like they had been done cheaply. But thinking, the fancy features on the Maxi Cosi Tobi are the reason why it broke! The Britax Evolva 123 comes in a large range of different colours but it will be dependent on what the store you purchase it from stock. Our local Halfords had the colour named (all the types of colours have names) Billy which lucky for us was a dark colour. It is mainly black with some darkish grey panels to which have a circle pattern to it. Since looking on line I have noticed the Evolva 123 comes in some hideous colours.
So the Evolva is a group 1, 2 and 3 forward facing car seat. Since I have always been stuck on Maxi Cosi I didnít realise they are so many of these types on the market although after using one I donít think I would have changed I still feel a group 1 only is better for a very small child. This car seat looks like a high back boaster that also has a five point harness fixed into it. The beauty of this seat it has a recommended age range of from nine months to eleven years with also a weight recommendation of 9kgs Ė 36kgs (20lbs Ė 79lbs).
The car seat comes with the all important side-impact protection. It is something you donít want to think about having a crash but you have to be realistic and make sure you child is going to be safe if you ever happened to be a crash. The side wings which offer this protection are very padded and feel and look very strong.
The five point harness is adjustable to make sure it is at the right height for your child. The headrest is also adjustable for this reason. Currently my son has the headrest at nearly the lowest position as when he sits back his head sits snuggly in-between the profound ends of the headrest. This is also helps to stop his head moving around too much if he nods off. I feel the headrest seems to offer more protection than most group one car seats I have come across. The five point harness has chest pads on either strap so the straps donít rub on your childís neck. When we first purchased the car seat I didnít like them and felt they felt too hard and stiff but they have soon worn in. My son was also not a great fan when he first used it he felt when you tightened the straps it was holding in his chest but he soon got used to it. There are also harness retainers to hold the straps out of the way when you get your child in. They are basically two slits in the material you can slot the strap buckles into. It is here I feel the Britax comes across a little cheaply. But I canít disagree it does work!
Once your child is big enough you can remove the five point harness and use it like a high back booster with the car seat belt. Removing the harness doesnít look too difficult. It does come with belt guides to help you position the adult belt properly. The headrest does extend upwards a lot so as the car seat says it does grow with your child.
Fitting the car seat
Fitting the car seat when you are using the five point harness is a little tricky. On our first attempt it did take us a little while. The adult belt goes through the back which makes it a little tricky to make sure it is pulled tightly enough. It feels secure enough when this is done and it isnít going anywhere. Compared to our other Maxi Cosi we have in the car and the old one that broke it maybe doesnít tighten as much. But I feel our son is safe and thatís all that matters.
As with most car seats these days the cover can be removed and washed. I think this is something all parents look for as children can be a bit messy! We have had the covers off already! We found them easier enough to remove and they washed fine.
One feature of the car seat my son loved and it sold it to him was the drinks holders on either side! There is a plastic holder on either side that pulls out and has a circular hole ideal for a drinks bottle. My son loves the independence of having his drink in the back with him and when we are on a long journey and he has snacks like raisins he can pop his little pot in the other one.
The car seat also claims to have a recline position. Well I say claims it does actually have one but personally it has been done cheaply and isnít really worth the paper it is written on! To recline the chair you most do this before fitting it in the car. There is a bar you flip forward underneath and that is how it reclines. Yet again it is a feature that has been done and looks cheaply! For a parent I feel it doesnít work. We do not use our seat in recline as our son is older and doesnít really need it. But as this car seat is meant to be suitable from the age of nine months you would expect it to recline easier and without having to remove the whole thing. We did have a go with the recline just to see what it looked like and the recline doesnít do a lot. I would certainly not put a nine month old baby in this car seat.
We managed to get this car seat at a reduced price of £100 from our local Halfords. Looking at other stores it ranges in price but seems to be around £130 to £140 mark. As I have mentioned there are a large range of colours and it seems this differs the price too.
My Sonís opinion
My son was very happy to be getting a new seat especially one with cup holders but that soon wore off when he got in for the first time. He didnít like the chest pads, he said they felt too tight and cried all the way home! He soon got used to them though and he now loves his car seat. He can climb into it easily on his own and feels a big boy in it.
My overall Opinion
For us this car seat works well and is a decent price. I am happy my son is still in a five point harness but the car seat can be adapted to a high back booster when he gets bigger. There is no need for us to buy another car seat and this pleases me! As for the fact you can put a nine month old baby in it (obviously only when they get to 9kg ) I wouldnít be so happy. I would not buy this car seat for a child so young, for a start is doesnít recline enough and when it does recline it is a pain to do. Some of the features have also been done a little cheaply but they do work.
For me I would give it a 4/5: It grows with my son, offers enough protection and he likes it. As for a 1, 2, 3 car seat I would give it a 2/5 I just wouldnít feel it would be enough for such a young child. It doesnít really work as a group one car seat for me.
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