Introduction and First Impressions
The Maxi-Cosi AxissFix Plus is a very ambitious car seat boasting an impressive 360 degree swivelling seat, catering for newborns to four year olds (size and weight dependant, of course) and having the ability to be used for both rear- and forward-facing travel. All within the safety and convenience of ISOFIX connections and the comfort of different reclining positions. In theory, save for changing your baby's nappy and cooking you breakfast in the morning, the functionality of the AxissFix Plus sounds pretty exhaustive.
Given all of the functionality it professes to have, I was expecting the AxissFix Plus to be large and bulky. However, I was pleasantly surprised to unpack a car seat which didn’t look that much larger than any other car seat I have had when an ISOFIX base is attached. In fact, my initial impression was that it was relatively compact given its spec.
On initial inspection, the car seat felt sturdy and very well made. The padding in the seat cushioning felt supportive and comfortable with the headrest being made from what felt like a firm memory foam. In fact, the quality felt higher than previous car seats I've used. The mechanisms also felt smooth and simple to operate. So, my first impression was very positive.
To fully test the performance and range of settings of the Maxi-Cosi AxissFix Plus, I trialled it with our ten month old and our two year old.
Installing the seat into my car was straight forward, it literally took me less than a minute to do. A simple lining up of the ISOFIX bars to click in with the ISOFIX anchor points in the car, plus connecting a latch to the top tether located behind the car's seat and it was ready to go. Unlike other car seats I have had, there is no "leg" bar that you need to extract and place on to the car floor as the top tether cord is the equivalent, meaning it takes up less room and the floor area is unobstructed.
In terms of the weight of the car seat, carrying the car seat isn't something you would want to do regularly as the AxissFix Plus isn't particularly light at circa 14kg. As a family, we do not tend to rearrange our car seats once they are installed, so personally this was not an issue for us. Don't be mistaken, you don’t need to be a deadlifting champion to lift and carry the AxissFix Plus, it's actually not that heavy, however if you do need to constantly disconnect and carry the AxissFix Plus it may detract from the convenience it is meant to offer in the first place.
Spinning versus Static Seat
Undoubtedly, the most important selling feature of the AxissFix Plus is the spinning seat. So, a major consideration in opting for the AxissFix Plus is whether the spinning seat provides any material benefit over and above a seat that doesn’t spin. As a parent of three children of different ages (10 months, two years and four years), we have used a range of car seats which do not spin, including the Maxi-Cosi Pebble and the Maxi-Cosi Pearl. As any parent will know, trying to lift and wedge a child into a car seat sideways, then trying to buckle them in whilst they are trying to imitate a dancing octopus isn't particularly practical.
So, putting the spinning seat to the test was a revelation. Being able to slot your child facing you into the seat and buckle them in with full leverage, rather than doing the "side-jig" was a huge improvement. After our child was safely buckled in, being able to simply spin them into a forward or backward facing position effortlessly with a smooth swivel of the seat (resulting in a satisfying click) was fantastic.
Other Key Features, Functionality and Performance
The AxissFix Plus also benefits from some nice design details for additional convenience. Simple but neat ideas include having velcro under the buckle so that the long tightening cord can be kept shorter and including latches at each side of the seat to help hold the harness open to assist in buckling your child in. These are minor benefits but emphasise the thought and care in its creation. Even the well placed summary of instructions on the sides of the seat act as a helpful reminder, but, as the mechanism and settings are genuinely intuitive, you really do get used to the way the AxissFix Plus works almost immediately. If in doubt, the thick instruction booklet provided gives additional help with easy-to-follow diagrams.
The adjustable headrest and seat recline function are all as you would expect – each functional in any rotation of the seat and easy to adjust by a simple squeeze of a lever. Within seconds you can cater for a different sized child. The angle of the recline was without issue (e.g. when backwards-facing, the angle did not create any head lolling).
The five point harness is also easy to connect, adjust and release and was secure when in place. Due to the well designed placement of the strap pads, the fit around our children looked comfortable and safe. The non-slip material on the back of the main pads was also a nice touch.
For added convenience, the covers of the seat can be removed for washing which is useful given the inevitable messiness of little ones.
An issue that we did encounter with the AxissFix Plus was that it was not compatible if there was a high back child seat next to it. For example, we have two Maxi-Cosi Rodi AirProtect seats side-by-side filling the left-hand side and middle car seats. When I installed the AxissFix Plus in the remaining seat, it fitted perfectly however when trying to utilise the spinning function, the AxissFix Plus would catch on the middle child seat preventing it from spinning. We trialled this in a Citroen Grand Picasso as well as a Ford Mondeo and the same issue remained in both, so it would be worth checking the set up of your specific car if you have three children to accommodate to ensure the AxissFix Plus can spin. Effectively, in trialling the AxissFix Plus we had to leave the middle seat empty meaning I could only use the car to transport two children not three. Needless to say, if you have less than three children this isn't an issue and the seat works brilliantly.
Another thing I did notice was the loss of the ability to carry our baby in an infant carrier (e.g. like the Maxi-Cosi Pebble), which you can disconnect from the ISOFIX base, carry with you and/or click on to compatible adaptors on a pushchair or leave in a quiet room (e.g. if your baby is asleep). With the AxissFix Plus, you do have to fully remove your baby from the car seat, which may disturb a sleeping child so you would forego the convenience of a quick "click and go" of a car to pushchair transfer. This makes little difference for us given the ages our children, but if you have a newborn, you might prefer a year or so of the convenience of a portable car seat like the Pebble. I would probably balance up the convenience of a spinning seat which lasts four years versus that portability which lasts for a year or so (then a need to buy a new seat). This will be purely down to personal preference.
As at the date of this review, the price tag for the AxissFix Plus can be found at around £395. That's a considerable amount to spend on a car seat so is it worth it? The alternative setup that we have previously used is having an Maxi-Cosi Familyfix and attaching different seats for different ages, but this would cost more than the AxissFix Plus overall (unless, like us, you have three children quite close together who needed to use the different seats at different ages at just the right time).
So, with hindsight and my experience of car seats, I would say the AxissFix Plus is worth the cost. The ability of one seat to cater for a newborn to four year old is fantastic and the additional functionality of the spinning seat really is worth the additional price, especially given how well made and designed the AxissFix Plus is.
SCORE: 8 / 10
DISCLOSURE NOTE: I was commissioned to write this review, but all opinions stated herein are written by me and reflect my own personal views.
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