Lifestyle-led safety and innovation are at the forefront of Cybex’s marketing claims, criteria which were also pretty high up on my list of priorities for a new car seat for my 12-month-old daughter.
Cybex’s praise-winning Cloud Q and Sirona car seats are impressive, and the seat’s unusual design supports its claims of being committed to innovation.
The Pallas M Fix is the updated version of the original Cybex Pallas, which earned an impressive five-star rating in our MFM review.
It is one of a new generation of seats that feature a safety cushion in place of a five-point harness, which is designed to spread the impact of a collision.
This form of car seat restraint has spawned a controversial debate among professionals and parents, so I was curious to see it in action and to discover how my baby would find the new style.
Key competitors to the Cybex Pallas M Fix seat include the Kiddy Guardianfix Pro 2, and the Concord Transformer XT Pro, both of which also sit in the pricier £200-plus price range but which have impressed MadeforMums reviewers and mums alike.
What’s the difference between the Cybex Pallas M Fix car seat and the older Pallas car seat?
Moving the baby from a rear-facing bucket seat to a forward-facing one felt like a big step, but the most intriguing feature of the Pallas M Fix is its unusual design.
Like the older version the Cybex Pallas M Fix is a group 1/2/3 car seat. They are both forward-facing and can be used from around 9 months up to a not-so-little 12 years.
For the group 1 stage (9-18kg) you use it with the impact cushion, which is removed for group 2/3.
However, the Cybex Pallas M Fix has the added benefit of having ISOFIX connectors for installation into a car.
Further safety features include individually adjustable side protectors plus shoulder and head protectors.
As such, the Pallas M also retails at £230 (£30 cheaper than the Pallas M Fix).
You can buy this chair from Halfords.
Tell us about the impact shield?
Admittedly my first thought was “eek — where are the straps?” But (as you’ll probably be aware if you’ve purchased it) there is no need for alarm.
The seat has a newer-style impact shield rather than a five-point safety harness, likened by Cybex to “an inflated air-bag”.
There is some debate over whether this style is as effective in the event of a ‘roll over’ crash, so have a think about which of the two types of restraint you’re comfortable with.
Arguments for the cushion claim the force of a collision is distributed across the entire surface of the cushion, protecting the child’s head, neck and shoulder area.
Once Audrey was strapped in she looked perfectly safe and restrained (for want of a better word) so I quickly got over my fears.
Also, if you need to thwart a would-be Houdini who likes to wriggle their arms out of harness straps, this is a good alternative.
How was the transition from 5-point harness to impact shield for your little one?
It was actually very easy. I think the real change for her was the improved view from being rear-facing to forward-facing. At 12 months she was too young to notice or care about the chair style.
Had we moved her later at, say, 23 months, she might have found the bulk of the cushion a bit claustrophobic compared to the relative space of her usual harness seat. So I think it depends on the child and when you move them.
This is a forward-facing only car seat, what do you think of that?
The Cybex Pallas M-Fix is forward-facing from 9 months, which is not unusual for this age range or car seats made under the ECE R44/04 European safety standard legislation.
But it means it is competing against the new range of seats that do offer a rear-facing position as well. I would prefer to keep Audrey in a rear-facing seat for as long as possible, as new research suggests it is safer.
And in line with the new i-Size safety standard that will phase in from 2018, MFM always recommends rear-facing car seat for longer and keeping your child in a rear-facing seat till 15 months – and then beyond, if you want to.
However, it’s really a question of choice, as currently these seats can quite legally be used from 9 months, which may interest parents looking for a forward-facing car seat.
So it’s worth considering if you plan to use the seat for future babies too.
As the front passenger, it is lovely for me to be able to turn and see her face so much more clearly than using a headrest mirror with her rear-facing seat.
My husband (the driver) can’t see her, but that will always be the case with a forward-facing seat behind the driver.
How is strapping your little one into the car seat?
You can attach the seat to your car using ISOFIX connectors, which is very simple. You click the two prongs at the back of the seat into the connectors in between the back of the seats. There’s also a useful YouTube video, which shows you how to install it.
I also used the seat belt to fit the car seat. The first time I did it was a bit fiddly as the seat was covering the seatbelt plug, so make sure it’s positioned correctly before placing the baby inside.
It’s all fairly straightforward – an opinion backed up by more than a third of Halfords parents, who found the seat easy to install, as well as several Amazon and Argos parents. And in our survey*, parents scored the seat either 9/10 or 10/10 for ease of installation.
You just place the seat in the car, place the baby in the seat and fit the impact cushion in front of her (you can then easily adjust how close the cushion is to her body by pushing a button).
To secure both the seat and the child, you pull out the length of the car seatbelt, place the lap belt in the obvious belt guide at the front of the cushion, and buckle up.
Then tighten the belt, feed it back across and then up until it is clamped in above the child’s shoulder. It sounds more complex than it is!
I found tightening the belt means pulling the cushion closer to Audrey’s tummy, which felt a bit snug, but she didn’t seem at all uncomfortable. In our survey, parents were happy with the strapping-in process, scoring this aspect 8/10 or higher.
The seatbelt of our VW Golf was pretty tight, however, so it is definitely worth checking your own car can accommodate the seat before purchase.
How comfortable is the Cybex Pallas M-Fix for your little ones?
The Pallas M-Fix’s soft fabric, padded seat and curved corners make it very comfortable for little passengers – a finding backed up by 81% of Halfords customers, who rated the seat 5/5 for comfort, with more than a third giving this aspect a special mention in their review.
The seat’s comfort was also given the thumbs-up by Argos and Amazon customers, while in our survey, all of the parents gave it 8/10 or more for comfort.
Audrey looked pretty relaxed, if a little dwarfed by the well-cushioned seat. I wondered if she might find it claustrophobic, or get too hot but she seemed very happy to either look out of the window, or nap with her head resting back on the padded headrest.
She was previously in a bucket-style rear-facing infant car seat, part of the Mothercare Curve travel system, which she was outgrowing, and I’d definitely say this is more comfortable for her.
As a tall baby, her legs can now dangle in front rather than being pushed against the back seat, and the higher, more upright position gives her a great view out of the window.
In fact, we were delayed in setting off and she sat happily for five minutes in the stationary car, patting the cushion.
I coincided our first trial with her afternoon nap and she took longer than usual to nod off, I think because of her exciting new view, which led to much pointing and singing. However, she looked very comfortable once she fell asleep.
Do you find it easy to get the seat in and out of the car?
Weighing in at 9.3kg, I found the car seat pretty heavy, and this aspect got mixed reviews from parents we surveyed. Carrying it out of the car was fine but I definitely couldn’t have carried the baby as well.
Fortunately, we plan to leave it in the car for everyday use, so we won’t need to move it around much.
If you do need to move it in and out regularly (to make space for an adult, for example), it’s fair to say it is a cumbersome, bulky weight to lug around, but I’ve yet to find a seat in this category that isn’t!
What’s the headrest like?
The adjustable headrest has 12 positions so you can be sure of a good, safe fit as your child grows.
Adjusting it is really easy – you just grip a button at the back of the seat and pull up (or down) and it glides smoothly into position.
There is also a patented three-position reclining feature to prevent your child’s head from falling forward while asleep, keeping them safer and more comfortable.
I kept it in the original position as Audrey was usually napping in the car, but you can move it forward by gently pushing it forward to lock into the second or third position. While this is quite easy to do from the back seat, I wasn’t sure whether it should be set to the second or third position when the baby was awake and more upright, which would obviously involve stopping the car as you can’t safely reach back to adjust it from the front seat.
The Pallas M Fix claims to have a one-hand recline system, what do you think of it?
Hmm. It looks simple enough (you just press the adjustment button under the seat and apparently it will then slide forwards under your child’s weight).
However, it took me several tries before I could get it into the lying position, and only then when I used both hands forcefully. My husband did it singlehandedly but had to lean awkwardly over the seat to do so.
How many recline positions does it have?
The seat has upright or reclined/lying positions, ideal for nap time.
However the manual says the recline position is only available for group 1 (9-18kg), which is a shame if you have a toddler who still naps and would appreciate lying back, particularly on longer journeys.
What do you think of the size of the Pallas M Fix?
It’s quite a big, bulky seat, which took up a good portion of our compact VW Golf’s back seat. However, I wouldn’t say it’s any bigger than average, as once you move up from infant seats things tend to bulk up.
Our car is not spacious but happily there was plenty of room for my tall husband to move his chair back without compromising the baby’s legroom.
It is a group 1/2/3 car seat; do you think it will last the 11 years?
It looks sturdy and of good quality – an opinion shared by 88% of Halfords parents, who rated it 5/5 for quality – so I can believe it would live up to its promise to last for 11 years or so.
The machine-washable cover will also make it fairly easy to keep clean after many a snack-smeared toddler journey. There’s also a slot in the back of the seat to keep the instruction manual in, which is ideal for when you adjust it to the next stage every few years.
Is the car seat easy to clean?
Yes, which is great if your child gets carsick or snacks in the car. The cover can be removed and machine washed at 30 degrees, and you can wash the plastic parts with a mild cleaning agent and water.
Is the Pallas M Fix car seat value for money?
In common with 81% of Halfords parents, who rated the seat 5/5 for value, I would say yes. The seat’s RRP is £260, which may seem steep, but this is a car seat that will potentially last your child from nine months to 12 years old.
As a parent, I feel the high safety standards make it worth the investment, and several Halfords, Amazon and Argos parents agree, mentioning the seat’s impressive safety record as one of their reasons for buying it.
Safety was also a key factor for parents we surveyed, with half saying the seat’s safety was the thing they liked most about it.
Everything you need is in the box, but you can also buy a summer cover to help keep your child cool on hot days, which retails at £45.
What’s in the box?
- Pallas M Fix car seat
- Pallas M Fix Safety cushion
- Four plastic ISOFIX guides
- User guide
- Compatible cars leaflet – confusingly, there was also a Britax car seat approved cars booklet inside.
I like it! I really wasn’t sure about the impact cushion design at first but both its safety features and comfort really impressed me – and I wasn’t alone. The seat is rated highly – 86% of Halfords parents gave it 5 stars overall, as did 93% of Amazon customers; and 95% of Argos parents recommend it, too.
In our survey, parents gave it an overall score of 8/10 or 9/10, and all said they would buy it again.
It’s a smart-looking seat that is very easy to fit, comfortable for your little one and potentially usable for more than a decade.
If you can afford the premium price tag upfront, then you won’t need to worry about buying and fitting another car seat for stages 1/2/3. So I’d recommend this for parents who want a long-lasting seat for older children, which ticks both the comfort and safety boxes.
Although you could pay less upfront for a group 1 seat, the Pallas M Fix’s quality feel, innovative safety features and wide age range make it a worthy long-term investment. In fact, it won best car seat in its group in a 2015 test by German independent consumer testing organisation Stiftung Warentest.
*MFM survey December 2019 of 564 users
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