First: A Cautionary Tale About Car Seat Fitting
So before I review the Kiddy Evoluna i-Size 2, let me first start with a warning about getting car seats fitted correctly. Being rather organised, Sarah and I bought Harry’s car seat several months before his due date from a well known High Street store. They offer advice but crucially do not have the ability to check the fit of the car seat in your own car. After some uhmming and ahhing, we originally picked the Cybex Aton Q i-Size; winner of many awards, a Which? Best Buy and all round recommended car seat. The sales assistant made a big fuss about putting both our car registrations into their system. He then proudly declared that it would be entirely suitable, even showing us which seats it would and wouldn’t go in.
Happy days then? Well actually not in the slightest. When Harry was born, we diligently followed the manual to the letter in both cars, and yet after several trips were horrified that his head kept falling onto his chest; this is a massive no no as it can impact your baby’s breathing, potentially with fatal consequences. We popped the seat over to a different, well known, baby shop and asked them to check the fit; our worst fears were confirmed as they advised that they would have never sold it to us having seen its position in our cars. We should instead have chosen a lie-flat model like the Kiddy Evoluna i-Size 2 we eventually ended up with.
So what happened next?
Cutting a long story short, the original retailer gave us a full refund after I went all Judge Rinder in an email to their Chief Exec. It turns out the system, which I believe most retailers use, only tells you which car seats physically fit in the space your car has i.e. it does not mean your car seat has ever been tested in your car and is 100% not a guarantee that it is suitable. Please make sure you get your seat physically checked by whoever sells it to you rather than listening to some sales patter and insincere reassurances; it could save your baby’s life.
I would also point out though that whilst the shop claims our car seats are “very steep”, we are not rolling around the Cotswolds in a Ferrari or blinged up G-Wagon. I drive a humble Ford Mondeo Estate and Sarah has a Hyundai i30; normal, run of the mill cars no? I therefore suspect a lot of people might unknowingly have this issue. It’s certainly worth checking either way!
I feel I should add here that this is not an attempt to discredit the Cybex Aton-Q in any way. It certainly seemed robust whilst we had it and I am confident that in the right car it would do a solid job, certainly this is why we chose it in the first place. That said, it’s difficult not to compare it to the Kiddy car seat so if there is anything obvious, I’ll point it out below.
Kiddy Evoluna I-size 2 Ergonomics
Size and Weight
The most obvious (and in fact one of the only) downsides to the Kiddy Evoluna i-Size 2 is its length. To put the seat into the lie flat position, you pull the handle towards the front of the car which gives it a length of 73.5cm front to back. If you have a particularly small car and regularly have a passenger in the front, they can probably expect a lot of leg cramps and discomfort. Personally, we’ve not found it an issue in the Mondeo and i30 but the Cybex certainly offered more legroom for the front passenger.
Picking it up, it weighs in at a hefty 4.9kg. I’m pretty sure the Cybex was the same weight although there are definitely lighter seats out there. I’ve mentioned the weight as people seem to like to know these things; however I’m not sure I would worry too much. I wouldn’t advocate lugging them around for extended periods like an oversized handbag but, for a quick in and out of your car, most seats seem to be an acceptable weight. Sarah has two slipped discs and my dominant hand has a dodgy wrist but we can both lift the Kiddy Evoluna and the Cybex Aton Q in and out of the car fairly easily. I suppose if it matters to you then it matters, but I wouldn’t personally compromise on other safety or ergonomic aspects just to shave a few grams.
Ease of Use
This is one area where, in my opinion, the Kiddy massively outperforms the Cybex. Both are very easy to install and even easier to put on and off their bases. However, I found the Cybex quite difficult to lift off the pushchair if I was using the adaptors as there are two stiff buttons that are hard to reach whilst leaning over the pushchair and lifting the chair upwards. The Kiddy uses a similar system but seems to come off much easier.
Buckling Harry in its also much easier with the Kiddy. They both use a 3-point harness but for some reason, the Cybex required a crazy amount of force to pull the harness snug against Harry. The Kiddy has a loop to pull on which even my Nan could do. There’s then a little slot in the seat fabric which allows you to slacken the belt. The buckle clicks together reassuringly and has lots of padding. In fact, the whole seat feels super comfortable and there is even a kind of built in foam sausage that gently cradles Harry’s head and neck. It also has removable newborn inserts and you can buy a premature baby insert if required.
There are five height settings to progress through as your baby grows. Again this is a simple process. You flap down the back of the seat, turn a grey handle 90 degrees and then pull it up or down. The seat and harness are all integrated together so it all adjusts at the same time from that one movement.
The Kiddy Evoluna i-Size 2 has an exceptionally large sunshade to keep your little one calm and protected. The shade feels a little flimsy compared to the smaller shade on the Cybex. It shouldn’t see much wear and tear though so I don’t see it as a big issue. It allows us to cocoon Harry and he falls asleep pretty quickly with the shade down.
Handily, the seat also fits happily on a large variety of pushchair frames. Essentially anything that will accept a Maxi-Cosi car seat can take the Kiddy provided you buy the adaptors. Whilst I wouldn’t recommend buying a car seat second hand for safety reasons, the adaptors are straightforward yet typically pricey for a bit of plastic. It’s therefore worth checking on eBay as we got ours at a fraction of the price; when they arrive, it would be blindingly obvious if they were damaged or not suitable.
*Top Tip* the adaptors are labelled ‘L’ and ‘R’ in the inside. Don’t stick them on your pushchair the wrong way round! From experience, removing them becomes a surgical procedure involving pointy implements and headtorches. Not something you’re going to want to try in the Waitrose car park!
The Kiddy is far simpler to remove from the pushchair than the Cybex as they’ve made the buttons large and put them where normal folk can reach. As it lies flat, it’s much safer to leave your child in. We’ve found Harry will happily stay asleep whilst being transferred; if you have a light sleeper though, you’ll need to be careful as the handle has to move to vertical (moving the seat out of lie-flat) to lift it out.
The Kiddy Evoluna i-Size 2 offers a proper lie-flat position both inside and outside the car. Harry’s body, neck and head are all aligned and his head shows absolutely no signs of rolling forwards and restricting his breathing. It’s also better for their spinal development so this is definitely a plus point if you regularly do long journeys; they can stay in comfort for far longer than a standard seat. The Lullaby Trust actually endorse it as being suitable for extended periods of sleeping out and about, although it still shouldn’t replace a moses basket or cot for longer sleeps.
Crash Test Results
The Kiddy Evoluna i-Size 2 delivers pretty impressive results in independent tests. Which! recommend it as a best buy after it achieved the highest ever score for a Group 0+ seat. The stringent German Stiftung Warentest and ADAC declared it their test winner (06/18) in the i-size up to 105cm category. It was also the only seat offering an in-car lie-flat position on test so if you want to go flat, it’s an obvious winner.
The seat uses a slatted mesh frame to support your baby and mould better to their body shape. This helps achieve the lie-flat position. This has the added bonus of allowing air to freely circulate which should allow your baby to regulate their temperature far better than a solid back.
Side Impact Protection
Both the Cybex and Kiddy Evoluna score highly in their respective crash tests so I’m sure that both seats do the job in terms of side impact protection. Where they differ is that the Kiddy has a small foam bumper permanently attached; the Cybex has an arm that you have to fold in and out each time you use it. I’m not qualified to say which works better. Practically though, when you have a screaming baby to strap in and it’s raining heavily, I’d prefer not to have to remember the extra step to activate the protection.
Unlike a lot of seats, the Kiddy Evoluna comes with the i-Size base as standard. Assuming your car has isofix, which most modern cars do, it is very simple to install. I’ve seen reviews on YouTube where people claim it fits badly in their car but I’m fairly sure they installed incorrectly. Kiddy have a video to show you how; it’s easy once you know how it works. There are plenty of buttons that change to green from red once it is correctly installed and when you try to lift it up from the floor of the car, it barely moves which is exactly what you want. Once it is set up, it takes just a few seconds to secure the seat onto the base. If you get really stuck, comment below and I’m happy to video whichever bit you are unsure on.
It has to be said that this isn’t the cheapest car seat in the world. The RRP is rather high but if you shop around, you can pick it up for around £260 which includes the base. The isofix base for a lot of seats is over £100 which makes this car seat package rather more attractive. It should fit your child until around 15 months so it’s under £20 (or the equivalent of a few coffees!) a month to keep your child safe.
Accident Replacement Scheme
This may be a feature of other car seats too but if you have an accident, Kiddy will replace your seat for free. You just need to send them the insurance or police report. They’ll even replace seats that appear to be absolutely fine, just to make sure your child stays safe. It also carries a two year warranty, extendable to three years for free on their website. This should easily cover your child’s time in it.
Final Thoughts on the Kiddy Evoluna i-Size 2
If you take away anything from this review, it should definitely be that you need to try a car seat in your car before you buy it.
If you take a second thing away, it should be that this is a great car seat; particularly if you suffer from ‘steep seats’ or would just like your child to be a bit comfier. We love it and even more importantly, Harry loves it. Now we’ve got some time to look at options for the next size up; I’d love to hear your recommendations in the comments below.