Britax Xtensafix child car seat withdrawn from sale after independent crash tests

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The Britax Xtensafix child car seat has been pulled from sale after it failed a series of Which? safety tests. The £216 seat performed so dismally in one Consumers' Association test that Which? had to slap it down as a Don't Buy.

Britax is offering a refund on all Xtensafix seats. Why did it perform so badly?

Neck concern

"The Xtensafix," said Which? seat tester Victoria Pearson, "looked like an exciting new product that offered a long useful life span and the possibility to use a five-point harness for longer - which was good news for parents with heavier toddlers."

But down at the Which? test lab the seat failed to meet expectations. Front and side-impact safety were only rated average when the harness was used for children up to 25kg, giving a lower score of 52%.

"Things get worse when you use the adult seat belt to hold your child in," said Which? "The adult seat belt slipped out of the belt guide during front impacts allowing the belt to slip up to the neck and create high sensor readings in our crash test dummy's neck."

"This was worst," it went on, "when the seat was held in with the Isofix connectors and adult seat belt, giving a test score of just 19%."

Complicated to set up

Added to these negative noises, Which? was critical of the complexity of installing the seat, worrying the seat could be installed incorrectly given the huge range of installation possibilities on offer.

Britax confirmed in a statement it has stopped manufacturing and selling the Xtensafix. "Although we could have changed the Xtensafix's recommended usage modes to attain an improved score, we believe this would limit the versatility and value for money the seat offers."

If you've bought a Xtensafix, Britax says you can take the seat back to the store where the seat was bought in exchange for a store voucher or cash refund.

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Several cheaper alternatives

'We are working," said the company, "with our retail partners and setting up a website with full details of this which will be online soon. We do not have concerns in relation to the safety of the seat."

High-scoring Which? alternatives to the Xtensafix include the £190 Maxi-Cosi Cabriofix, which scored a top 82% score in the Which? tests, though it's only suitable for kids up to 13kg (12 - 15 months). For children weighing between nine and 18kg (1-4 year olds) Which? rated highly the Kiddy Energy Pro at £140.

The best budget buy Which? tested (for children up to 13kg) was the high-scoring (80%) Graco Logico S HP - just £70.

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