Cybex Pallas S-Fix car seat review
In a nutshell
A sturdy multigroup, forward-facing car seat, designed to adapt as your child grows with an impact shield in Group 1 mode for extra protection
What we tested
- Ease of installing
5.0A star rating of 5.0 out of 5.
4.5A star rating of 4.5 out of 5.
- Safety features
4.5A star rating of 4.5 out of 5.
5.0A star rating of 5.0 out of 5.
4.5A star rating of 4.5 out of 5.
- Worth the money
4.5A star rating of 4.5 out of 5.
- Reclinable headrest, easy to install with Isofix connectors, allows for lots of leg room, offers good longevity
- No rearward-facing option, stiff recline, only reclines in Group 1 mode
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German brand Cybex prides itself on making car seats that offer good design, safety and functionality. It regularly pushes the envelope when it comes to these values and the Pallas S-Fix is the latest incarnation of this – a two-in-one seat that grows with your child, for parents willing to invest a little bit more.
It converts from the Pallas S-Fix Group 1 seat into a Solution S-Fix Group 2/3 – a seat that can also be bought separately. At £259.95, it is part of Cybex’s Gold range (there is a cheaper Silver range or more premium Platinum one) and it also offers improved neck protection in a crash in Group 1 mode thanks to an innovative impact shield, rather than the classic five-point harness.
Similar multistage Group 1/2/3 products include the Maxi-Cosi Titan Pro (£250), Britax Advansafix IV R (£250) and Silver Cross Balance (£225). While all four car seats are a fairly similar price and offer recline functions, the others use a classic five-point harness and are heavier.
Alex lives in York and has two sons – Ralph, 3, and Max, 4 months. She tested the car seat in her Vauxhall Astra with Ralph, on the nursery run and on a long car journey to London and back.
What were your first impressions of the Cybex Pallas S-Fix?
The seat felt smart and very streamlined – and I was intrigued by the impact shield. It looked pretty bulky and I wasn’t sure how it would compare to the classic five-point harness in terms of ease of use and comfort for my son.
What’s in the box?
The seat, all ready to go in Group 1 mode, plus the impact shield and an instruction booklet.
How easy was the car seat to assemble?
Very, as it was all ready to go - we just had to pop out the connectors and put it in the car. The instruction booklet fits in a handy pocket in the back of the seat and has clear diagrams, with useful visual tips, like leaving two fingers’ width between your child’s shoulder and the wings of the head rest.
One thing I didn’t find clear was how to correctly fit the impact shield, even after reading the instructions and watching a video – which we’ll come to later.
What age is the Cybex Pallas S-Fix suitable for?
It has an impressively long lifespan – roughly 9 months to 12 years, or 9kg to 35kg. For children weighing 9k to 18kg (roughly 9 months to 4 years), it should be used in Group 1 mode with the impact shield and integrated, adjustable base. After that, you remove the base and impact shield, and use it in Group 2/3 mode (known as Solution S-Fix) with the car seatbelt. This for children 100cm to 150cm tall and can be used from 15kg.
I mostly used it with my 3-year-old son in Group 2/3 mode, without the impact shield, as he was already around 18kg and used to being in a ‘big boy seat’. It was very spacious and I think it would last him for years to come, but I doubt I’d have used it from 9 months as it felt very upright and is only forward-facing. My youngest, Max, uses a Cybex Cloud Q, which is a rearward facing Group 0+ and has a weight limit of 13kg. This feels more secure and cosy for a child under 18 months, in my opinion, plus you can carry them around in it.
While Ralph was just a little too big for Group 1 mode, I think we would have been able to keep him in that stage for longer in the Cybex Pallas S-Fix than our existing seat, an Ickle Bubba Solar. This is because the headrest can be adjusted to the correct height, no matter the setting. With our Solar, it would only go up so far before you had to remove the five-point harness and he became too tall for it, without being near the weight limit.
How is the Cybex Pallas S-Fix installed in the car?
You install the seat using the integrated Isofix connectors, but Cybex’s online tutorials also demonstrate how to use the three-point seatbelt if you don’t have Isofix points in your car. If you do this, ensure you use the seatbelt at all times, even when your child is not in the car.
My husband and I were really impressed with the Isofix connectors – they flip out from the seat base and extend, which makes guiding them into the car anchorage points much easier. There are markings that change from red to green when correctly installed and once this is done, you push the car seat back into the seat to get a snug fit.
The integrated base needs to be used for Group 1 mode and you remove it for Group 2/3 mode, slotting the Isofix connectors into the seat itself.
Does it feel securely installed, once in place?
Yes it feels securely installed with the Isofix installation.
How is strapping your child into the Cybex Pallas S-Fix?
In Group 2/3 mode, I found it very easy, but less so in Group 1 mode.
In Group 2/3 mode, the car seat doesn’t sit too high above the actual seat or extend too far forward, and there is a gap under the arm rests. Therefore you don’t need to stretch over too far to click in the seatbelt. I used to struggle reaching over our Ickle Bubba Solar, particularly when pregnant. This feature also means the headrest does not obstruct your view as much as other car seats.
However, the situation is different in Group 1 mode, as you use the impact shield rather than a classic five-point harness. This slides into the seat under the arm rest and is further secured with the car’s own seatbelt. It can be used up to 18kg (roughly 4 years).
Like a seatbelt, it is adjustable and should sit against your child’s chest without pushing against their body. It can be changed to accommodate your child’s size and there is a button in the middle to do this.
I liked the concept, because it works as an airbag in a crash, spreading the impact and giving better protection. However, it is pretty bulky and I found it hard to understand how to install it correctly, even after reading the instruction booklet and watching the online tutorial, which unhelpfully shows an empty car seat being used with no child!
I just never felt confident that I had secured it correctly as it doesn’t lock in place – it rests there and the belt is what keeps it still. I also found the adjustment button really stiff and the two sides didn’t always move together. I guess, like anything new, it takes getting used to.
The other downside is that you need to stretch over the impact shield and your child to secure the seatbelt – so it is actually less convenient than a five-point harness in that respect and nowhere near as easy as when it’s in the Group 2/3 setting.
I tried the impact shield with my son a few times but he was bursting out of it as he is at the very top of the weight limit (18kg), so we couldn’t use it day to day.
However we also tried it with a friend’s little boy, who is not quite 3 and petite, plus another friend’s daughter who was about to turn 2 but is quite tall for her age and both were very comfortable and happy in it. This was also reflected in reviews left by Amazon customers, with one parent suggesting that if you can it's worth trying it with your toddler in store to see how they get on with the impact shield.
What do you think of the design?
It’s very smart and stylish. Smarter than our Vauxhall Astra! There is a good choice of colours too – 7 in total. Ours was a very neutral Soho grey but you can go for a bright magnolia pink or the beige and red combo of autumn gold.
Does the Cybex Pallas S-Fix feel sturdy and safe?
It is well made, with good quality fabrics, and while it is not bulky, it still feels sturdy. While the back rest of the seat does have movement in it, this is to ensure a snug fit against the car seat and didn’t worry me.
My only concern was whether I was using the impact shield correctly and that niggle of doubt is something you don’t want in a car seat. Better instructions and a detailed video tutorial would have put my mind at rest.
Are there different seat positions?
In Group 1 mode, you can recline the seat to make your child more comfortable as they sleep. This can be done without adjusting the seatbelt. To do so, you put your hand under the seat and there is a red handle to pull towards you. This slides the seat in and out.
Because we weren’t using Group 1 most of the time, I didn’t use this function day to day as the seat does not recline in Group 2/3 mode as you have to remove the integrated base.. However, when I did use it, I found the recline function pretty stiff and jerky which a number of Amazon customers also picked up on.
Plus I needed to hold the backrest to slide the seat back up to sitting – which isn’t a one-handed function. Perhaps this would loosen through regular use but I suspect you might wake a sleeping child doing it. The one on our Ickle Bubba Solar feels smoother.
How do you adjust the height/size of the Cybex Pallas S-Fix as your child grows?
The headrest slides up and down, offering 12 positions to suit your child’s height. The impact shield also slides in and out to fit, without having to alter straps. Once you get to 18kg, you need to adapt the seat to Group 2/3 mode.
I liked the fact there was no fiddly five-point harness to try and take off the car seat – it was a nightmare last time we had to do it with a multistage car seat, as you had to remove fabric and all sorts! With the Cybex Pallas S-Fix, you just take off the impact shield and store it away.
However, you do need to take the seat out of the car and take off the integrated base, then attach the Isofix connectors back to the seat. We found the online tutorial very helpful for explaining this action. In this mode, Cybex refer to the seat as a Solution S-Fix.
How comfortable is the Cybex Pallas S-Fix for your child?
Ralph seemed very happy in his seat. It is roomier than our Ickle Bubba Solar – his legs don’t feel constricted at the sides and I can see it lasting him much longer as a result. He also has more leg room to the front because it sits snuggly against the actual seat – a real bonus given we have a small Astra. It also meant less kicking in the back when I was driving!
We did a very long journey to London with it and he napped soundly and didn’t complain. One feature that was good in theory but disappointing in reality was the reclining headrest. It’s supposed to stop your child’s head flopping forward during a nap to keep their head in the safety zone of the headrest at all times. However, it needs to be hand-adjusted with a lever behind – and you can’t do this on the motorway! You’d need to physically stop the car to change it or know in advance that they will be napping and set it accordingly.
What are the main safety features of the Cybex Pallas S-Fix?
The Cybex Pallas S-Fix uses an adjustable impact shield rather than a five-point harness in Group 1 mode. This slides in front of your child and is designed to protect against neck injuries, acting almost as an inflatable airbag because it spreads the impact. At the same time, it is said to offer more freedom of movement, but I just felt it got in the way a bit.
The seat is made from a flexible material to absorb energy during an impact and has an integrated linear side-impact protection (LSP). There is one on each side so you extend the side closest to the door and apparently it reduces the force of a side impact collision by 25 per cent. These are very easy to flip out and push back in again.
What do you think of the size and weight of the Cybex Pallas S-Fix?
The Pallas S-Fix weighs 10kg and I could lift it fairly easy, especially when it was in Group 2/3 mode without the base or impact shield. The Isofix function is smooth and straightforward, making it easy to move between cars. Inevitably these multistage seats are a little cumbersome due to the high backs though.
What do you think of the fabric?
The fabric is excellent quality, with a sheen to make it stain resistant but soft. Ours was a light grey and the fabric is easy to spot clean. The covers are removable and machine washable at 30°C if you need to get a stubborn stain out. They are attached with poppers so easy to take on and off.
What feature do you like most in the Cybex Pallas S-Fix?
It has lots of whistle and bells, but I mostly like the ease of strapping and unstrapping your child into it. Any parent will know this can be a high stress part of the day! The streamlined design makes it so much easier to reach and get the job done quickly. That, and the space in the seat for my son to grow.
Is it a stylish car seat?
Very much so. Much more stylish than our Vauxhall Astra!
Is it good value?
The Cybex Pallas S-Fix costs £259.95. It’s a fair bit more than our existing Ickle Bubba Solar, which is also a Group 1/2/3 and costs £169, but a similar price to many other more premium brands like Silver Cross and Britax. However, the quality of the materials and the spacious nature of the seat certainly justify some of that extra cost. I think it would last my son longer than the Solar.
Are there any accessories needed or available?
You don’t need to buy any extras but there is the option of a summer cover for the seat (£44.95 on Amazon), a cup holder (£16.50 on Amazon) and Isofix guides to assist installation and protect car seat material (£15 on Amazon).
Would you recommend this car seat?
Yes, but I’d want better installation instructions for the impact shield.
Where can I buy the Cybex Pallas S-Fix?
A streamlined but comfortable and safe multistage car seat, made from quality materials, that will grow with your child and is worth investing in. It's ideal for anyone looking to make the move from a Group 0+ who is happy to invest a little more for a multistage seat, but you need to embrace the idea of an impact shield in Group 1 stage rather than a harness and make sure you understand how to install it.
Excellent choice for children who are on the upper height and weight centiles for their age, as well as families with a smaller car who need to maximise leg room.
Alex is the former deputy editor of Prima Baby, and mum to 2 boys.
|Dimensions & Weight|
|Child age (approx)||9 months to 12 years|
|Child weight||9kg to 36kg|
|Car seat installation||Isofix connectors|
|Travel system compatible||No|
|Removeable cover for washing||Yes|
|Side crash protection||Yes|
|Height adjustible headrest||Yes|