Although in the UK, most parents currently switch to a forward-facing car seat when their child is about nine months, or 9kg, new regulations from the EU call for children to be kept rear-facing until at least 15 months. This is because it’s considered safer in a crash – and some countries already use rear-facing car seats to four years.
The car seat was awarded top spot by Germany’s leading consumer testing organisation Stiftung Warentest for its safety performance and functionality during a test in June 2012. It was also awarded ‘good’ by German Automobile Association ADAC Motorwelt in a test of 27 child car seats in June 2013, and has won a design award.
When I first opened the box I was a bit worried that I couldn’t find any instructions, but soon realised there is a QR (Quick Response) code on the side of the seat itself, which you can use with a reader on your phone/tablet. This takes you to the Cybex website, which has a 7.5 minute instruction video on installing and using the seat.
Watching the video, it shows you where the instruction book is – tucked away inside a zipped section at the back of the seat. This was handy to have as you have everything written down as you travel – we needed it when we had to stop and make an adjustment at the side of the road.
Is it easy to install?
The seat is relatively straightforward to install, but I needed to ask my husband to carry it down to the car as it is pretty heavy (as I have found are all car seats). It installs using the ISOFIX system and there is a list of cars on the website with which it’s compatible.
If you don’t have ISOFIX then it would mean an extra cost getting the ISOFIX system installed in the car, as this car seat cannot be installed just using a seatbelt.
Also, this is not a seat for moving in and out of different cars with any regularity as it is heavy and cumbersome, but because it has to stay in the car once it’s been installed (so you couldn’t use it as part of a travel system) this isn’t necessarily a problem.
However, we found that after installing it on the driver’s side, we actually needed to move it to the passenger side, as my 6ft 3ins husband couldn’t get his seat back as far as he needed to with the seat in place.
How is it strapping your baby in?
The straps are a five-point safety harness which buckle between the child’s legs and I found them easy to use. A feature that I particularly liked was that the cushioned strap pads are attached using poppers – meaning they are much easier to remove and clean than on other car seats I have used.
What do you think of the impact shield when forward-facing?
When using the car seat in the forward-facing position (which you can do at 15 month or you can leave it rear-facing to 4 years if you want) you can secure your little one in the seat with a frontal impact shield, which rests across the front lap of the seat. For me, it provides an added element of safety – as it aims to spread the force of a crash over a larger area of their chest.
I find clipping the shield in on either side using the seatbelt-type fastenings very simple. I had worried my son wouldn’t like the impact shield, but he also uses one in his grandma’s car – she has a Recaro Monza Nova IS car seat – and is quite happy with it.
How comfortable is it for your little ones?
The Cybex Sirona is really comfortable – the fabric is super soft and the level of cushioning on the seat and curved design means there are no hard bits for bumping knees and elbows.
My son really loves the adjustable headrest, which is a great feature, and very supportive.
The adjustable headrest has 11 different heights and is very comfortable and easy to position. I really like this feature, as it means you can feel secure that your baby’s head is being well-supported whatever their height.
Is it more comfortable than your previous car seats?
Yes, the car seat is definitely more comfortable than previous car seats we have used and, while I thought that my son would object to using the safety cushion, which straps across his middle when the seat is used forward-facing, he was happy to use it.
It seemed to provide a good place for him to rest his arms at the end of a long day.
Because I was using the seat while heavily pregnant with baby number two, I did find the rotating feature made getting my son in and out of the car more comfortable for me as well.
Being able to turn the seat 90 degrees to face the door was really handy when unclipping the safety cushion, as it meant I wasn’t stretching over the seat or bumping my tummy.
Would you recommend it to someone with a child of a particular age?
I would really recommend getting this seat from day one, as it would be great to have the option to use it from newborn to age four.
It’s also reassuring to know that it will meet the new European regulations, introduced in July 2013, to keep babies rear-facing to 15 months.
As most parents currently switch from their rear-facing Group 0+ seat to a forward-facing one at about nine months, this would also be a great time to invest in the seat, as it gives the added safety for longer.
Although my son is now three, I will continue to use the seat until he grows out of it, and will use it with my newborn – hopefully right up to age four.
Is the Cybex Sirona suitable from newborn?
Yes, it is! As well as testing the car seat with my three-year-old son, I also tried it out on my newborn baby girl. We first tried her in the seat when she was two and a half weeks old and weighing just over 8lb.
I was pleasantly surprised how comfortable she seemed in the seat, as I had thought it might seem very large for her.
You can buy an extra newborn insert for £50, which provides a more padded, flatter seat area for smaller babies, but I tested my daughter without this and felt happy to make short journeys.
Saying that, it’s worth noting that the adjustable headrest’s lowest setting supported the top part of her head only, not right down to her shoulders.
I think if we had been planning to bring my daughter home from the hospital using the Cybex Sirona, and were making lots of trips in the car very early on then it would be worth buying the newborn insert.
However, I don’t think it is a totally necessary addition once the baby is a bit bigger. The swivel function was perfect for minimising the fuss with getting my daughter in and out of the seat as well – a very welcome feature.
Overall, I was delighted with the support and comfort of the seat for a small baby, and would feel confident using it from birth.
The Sirona claims to have a one-hand recline system, what do you think of it?
It is genuinely possible to recline the seat using one hand, which is useful if, like me, you normally have the other hand full of phone, car keys and baby.
However, when turning the seat from the front or rear to face the door, it does have to be in a certain recline position, and I found I needed two hands to make sure I got this right and could turn it at the same time.
How many recline positions does it have?
The seat apparently has seven recline positions when rear-facing, and five when forward-facing, which I found difficult to believe.
After trying it out several times, I did manage to find all the different recline positions but, to be honest, I found it a bit pointless having more than a few, as the difference between each position is so miniscule.
What do you think of the seat height and size?
The seat seemed quite big to start with, particularly considering it might be used for a newborn, but in reality, it was actually the same size as my Maxi-Cosi Priori. It is, however, much bigger than a Group 0+ seat, such as the Maxi-Cosi Pebble, Silver Cross Simplicity or Cosatto Hold.
It is a group 0/0+ and 1 car seat; do you think it will last from birth to 4 years?
This seat would definitely last from birth to four years, although I’m not sure that some of the brighter/lighter colours would still look as good after all that time!
And while some European countries do keep their kids rear-facing to the age of four, I couldn’t use this particular seat rear-facing with my son for that long, as he wasn’t happy having his legs squashed up. But the fact it can also be used forward-facing extends its life.
Will your little one be able to sit rear-facing up to 15 months?
You could certainly use the Cybex Sirona rear-facing to at least 15 months, to meet the new European regulations, and probably longer than that if your child has been used to facing the back of the car.
We did find our son was a bit happier using the seat rear-facing when we took the headrest off the back car seat, as it meant it was easier for him to see out of the back window.
What do you think of the 360 degree rotation base?
The rotating seat feature really impressed me, as it definitely made getting my child in and out of the car a lot less back-breaking. One thing to remember (which we didn’t realise until we were already out on a fairly long car journey) is that the seat does not simply turn from rear-facing, to the side, then forward-facing.
To change the seat from rear-facing to forward facing you have to take off the footboard section and then stow away the straps before using the safety cushion across the front of the seat.
My three-year-old son wasn’t happy travelling backwards so we thought we’d just turn him around, but had left the safety cushion at home. Luckily we knew for next time.
What kind of base will it fit into?
The seat comes fully fixed to the ISOFIX base, so if you want a seat that can be easily taken in and out of the car then this is probably not the product for you.
If, however, you plan to leave the seat in the car, then it is great, once it’s attached to your car’s ISOFIX system, as it is incredibly secure. It was easy to attach, but also comes with ISOFIX guides, which you can use to help get it in the right place.
Is the car seat easy to clean?
I have to admit, I was quite nervous about removing the car seat cover, after struggling with removing and replacing covers on other seats.
But, I was seriously impressed with how easily the cover could be removed, washed at 40C, and put back on again.
No broken nails or raised blood pressure. The main issue is that the seat itself doesn’t come off the base, so could be tricky to get it really clean without taking it out of the car and doing a thorough vacuum and wipe.
Is the product value for money?
It might have a hefty price tag compared to other car seats, but the fact you could use it from birth to four means it actually does work out fairly competitively.
For example, we previously used a Maxi-Cosi Pebble (around £132) when our son was newborn, moving to a forward-facing Maxi-Cosi Priorifix (around £200) once he got to around nine months. Over four years the cost of the Cybex Sirona works out about 25p a day, if you use it every day.
What do you think of the design?
I loved the curved design and the wide range of colour options – my ‘Autumn Gold’ seat was a bright orange, with cream-coloured headrest, which was really vibrant.