Wednesday, 20 February 2013

Product review - Travel system

REVIEW TIME -and this Recaro Akuna Profi Travel System should not be overlooked.

Comfortable for newborns and toddlers, it is light, compact, 
easy to steer and transport

Price: £310.00 
Age suitable for: Birth-3yrs 
Weight: 14.8kg 
Seat facing direction: Forward facing and rear facing

The Recaro Akuna Travel System is a product that, as its racing car seat manufacturer’s name suggests, will leave all its counterparts in the dust. Seriously, this is one top product.

German engineered and released in 2010, what makes the Recaro Akuna different to other travel systems on the market is the car seat. The car seat is the Recaro Young Profi Plus Infant Safety Carrier, and is the only infant carrier that ‘grows’ with your baby. Its unique selling point is that the backrest can be adjusted five times to suit the size of your child, from birth to 13kg. It also features extra high side wings for side impact safety, and weighs 4.3kg. Add to this the fact that as a travel system the Akuna is so compact and lightweight, and Recaro has got a winner on its hands.

The car seat, carrycot and Akuna buggy are available to buy as one for £395, or to purchase separately, and as the buggy is suitable from birth, the carrycot becomes optional. Indeed, I didn’t manage to get hold of a carrycot to test (demand is so high), but the buggy and car seat (for a total price of £310) leave me in no doubt that the entire product as a travel system is superb.

The Akuna is available in cherry/black and (my personal favourite) asphalt/grey. The fabric is imitation suede, but don’t let this put you off as far as keeping it clean. As well as looking amazing, all covers can be removed and washed at 30 degrees.

What’s clear is that the Recaro Akuna buggy and Recaro Young Profi Plus car seat work well both together and apart. To give a fair test of the Akuna’s capabilities, my 2-year-old daughter Esme trialled the buggy’s suitability for toddlers, while a friend’s 9-week-old daughter Astrid, tried out the car seat.


What we love

We took the Akuna buggy with us to see how it faired on a day trip. As I opened up the buggy in the car park I could see the parents next to me assembling their buggy and enviously eyeing mine. In fact the whole day I was very much aware of others – especially dads - admiring my handsome Recaro Akuna. I had to fight my husband off so that I could test it out. And I honestly think if he could have sat in it, he would have! But who wouldn’t? It looks so inviting.

The robust buggy seat is what makes this product for me. It has a 3-position recline function and adjusts to reclining back completely flat. When Esme had had enough, she entered in to a deep slumber and frankly looked like she was more comfy in the Akuna than in her bed because of the amazing cushioning!

Even with the seat fully reclined for Esme to sleep, the roomy basket underneath is accessible.

I’m also so impressed that the buggy seat sits totally upright. Every other stroller I’ve tested with Esme has never sat her up straight.

A 5-point safety harness and bumper bar add protection, although I removed the bumper bar for Esme and she was able to climb in and out of the buggy herself. Big girl stuff indeed!

Esme is not the lightest of toddlers now that she is 2, so I was surprised to find how manoeuvrable the Akuna was with her onboard. At 10.5kg, the Akuna is not the lightest of buggies either, but the clever design of the wheels with ball bearings mean that they spin more efficiently. Plus the two steerable front wheels and the four rear wheels are all spring mounted, making for an even easier ride. I was impressed that pushing seemed effortless.

The handles are height adjustable and spin round to make pushing the Akuna comfortable however tall you are.

To me, the cup holder on the side of the buggy equals life about town. And although not designed to be an off-roader, the Akuna performed brilliantly on unpaved terrain, too. Tree roots galore, it coped admirably and Esme bounced her way cross-country seemingly with ease.

The ultra light aluminium chassis allows the Akuna to fit in to the smallest of vehicles. I especially love the fact that the entire buggy collapses, thanks to the brilliant concertina-style base. Many travel systems don’t offer this and see you dismantling the seat every time and struggling to transport all the components. Folding and unfolding the Akuna is simple, although you do need both hands.

The buggy is suitable from birth, and for once, I actually believe it really is. The Akuna offers fantastic support and protection for a newborn. It has lots of cushioning, soft chest pads and fully reclines. Also, you have the option of having your baby facing you. In this parent-facing mode, you can reach down to your baby and get as close as you wish due to the position of the open handles and no cross bar.

The raincover (£12.50) is very easy to attach and does a super job of keeping things dry. It comes with a clip-on carry bag.

As a travel system, the Recaro Akuna works so very easily. Everything fits together so simply, anyone can make it work. To remove the seat you push a button each side and release it. To put the car seat on the frame, you use the two adaptors included, which click into place easily. To take the car seat off again, simply press two more buttons to release.

The Young Profi Plus Infant Carrier is a car seat that’s every bit as excellent as the buggy. Baby Astrid was secure and comfortable within its padding. It looks every bit the part in your vehicle and can be used with either a 3-point car seatbelt or if your car allows, ISOFIX.

The car seat covers can be removed and washed and off the buggy chassis and out of the car, it can be used to rock your baby. A final plus, in the area of accident safety, this car seat was a test winner in 2007.

To complete the review, see images of the Sovereign and to read the all-important What to watch out for and Verdict sections, then please click on the links below which will take you through to the parenting website MadeForMums, where this review first appeared, published in Feb 2012.

Summary : Full Review : Gallery : Specs