Joie i-Spin Safe car seat review
In a nutshell
A supremely easy-to-use car seat that only allows you to use it rear-facing and has been Swedish Plus Test certified
What we tested
- Ease of installing
4.0A star rating of 4.0 out of 5.
5.0A star rating of 5.0 out of 5.
- Safety features
5.0A star rating of 5.0 out of 5.
4.5A star rating of 4.5 out of 5.
4.5A star rating of 4.5 out of 5.
- Worth the money
4.0A star rating of 4.0 out of 5.
- i-Size compliant, 90 degree swivel, rear facing up to 18kg (approx. age 4), comfortable, easy to install, simple to adjust, Swedish Plus Test certified
- Heavy, bulky, not compatible with a pushchair
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Joie is known for its reliability, quality and affordability, especially in car seats. The Joie i-Spin Safe is arguably one of its safest yet, which allows your child to stay rear facing from birth right up to the age of 4 years/18.5kg with no option to forward-face. Other notable features include a 90° swivel function and a built-in Isofix base unit, making it a touch bulky, but removing the need to invest in a separate base.
Where the seat really makes its mark though is in its safety credentials – it’s i-Size compliant, which means it adheres to the latest safety regulations, making it a future-proofed choice.
It also has the highly coveted Swedish Plus Test certificate, a rigorous test said to be one of the toughest in the world. Conducted at higher speeds than EU tests and with a shorter breaking distance, the Swedish Plus Test represents the gold standard in car seat safety and so far only rear-facing car seats have passed.
Our in-depth reviews puts this swivel car seat with top safety features to the test, to see how it fares in everyday family life.
- For more reviews on the i-Spin Safe, check out our product test where 10 MFM users put the seat to the test with their children.
- Read our in-depth review of Joie's alternative Spin car seat - the i-Spin 360
Luke tested the Joie i-Spin Safe with his 3-year-old daughter and 1-year-old son. He put it through its paces in rear-facing mode for day-to-day use in his Skoda Octavia Estate, as well as on a holiday to the coast with lots of day trips in-between.
What are your first impressions of the Joie i-Spin Safe?
The first thing to notice is the weight of this seat (14.6kg). Getting the box into the house took some lifting, which was a surprise. Once all the packaging was off it was a little lighter, but still heavy. That said, I actually found the weighty, robust feel of it reassuring – it’s definitely strong.
The thick cushioning and plenty of adjustment settings are obvious from opening the box and makes it feel like a really premium product that justifies the £300 price tag.
How do other i-Size car seats compare to the Joie i-Spin Safe?
The market for car seats that comply with i-Size requirements is growing rapidly and as such, there are a huge number of seats coming onto the market to compete with the Joie i-Spin Safe.
The Cybex Sirona S i-Size (£300 on Amazon) is a solid and similar alternative to the Joie i-Spin Safe, offering rear-facing to age 4 and a built-in base unit, all for the same price of £300. It rotates the full 360° to allow the seat to forward face, unlike the i-Spin Safe which only rotates 90° to get your child in and out of the car. However the Sirona S i-Size includes Driving Direction Control, which prevents the seat moving to forward-facing until your child reaches the correct height. It also hasn't passed the Swedish Plus Test, which the i-Spin Safe has.
A car seat that has passed the test, and is one of the most similar to the Joie i-Spin Safe is the Nuna Norr. It ticks all the same big boxes – it’s i-Size compliant, offers rear-facing until 4 years, and it rotates 360°. It has 7 recline options to the Joie’s 6, but it’s almost 2kg heavier and £50 more expensive.
If you’re after a rotating i-Size car seat that also works as a travel system, the Cybex Cloud Z is cheaper at £225 and lighter at 4.8kg. However it has a much shorter lifespan – up to 13kg/approximately 15 months, at which point you'll need to invest in another seat.
There's also the Maxi-Cosi Pebble Plus (£199 on Amazon) – an i-Size car seat that is cheaper (£199) and lighter (4.5kg) which clips onto multiple buggies, but also doesn't have the longevity with a limit of 12 months.
What’s the difference between the Joie i-Spin Safe and the Joie Spin Safe?
The main different is the i-Spin’s adherence to i-Size regulations, which the Spin doesn’t have, along with one or two other safety enhancements, including a simple swivel turn activator and improved auto engaging guard surround safety.
How would the Joie i-Spin Safe feel for a newborn?
Thanks to the ability to angle near flat, and the brilliant Grow-with-me padded inserts, which snap together for a custom fit, the Joie i-Spin Safe creates a comfy ride for newborns.
The clever inserts can adapt to go from a cushioned cocoon for a tiny baby, right up to a large support for an older child. While our youngest is just 1, I’d have felt comfortable using this with a newborn as it’s packed with safety features and doesn’t scrimp on cosy cushioning.
How is the Joie i-Spin Safe installed in the car?
It’s an all-in-one unit, so the Isofix base is built-in. This allows you to install it using the Isofix connectors and support leg. A MFM user who tested the seat found the support leg particularly useful: "I love the fact that it has an anchor that sits on the car floor for extra support. This can easily be height adjusted to get the perfect fit in each car."
Keep in mind that if your car has underfloor storage, you can't place the support leg on the lid as it could collapse through in the event of a collision.
The Isofix base makes the i-Spin Safe super solid and secure, but also heavy and a little awkward. It installs easily enough though with colour coded symbols to show it’s safely in place, but it’s not something you’d want to do often – moving between cars would be a pain.
A MFM user who tested seat said she found that following diagram instructions on the car seat also made the installation process a lot quicker.
Does the Joie i-Spin Safe feel secure once in place?
Very much so. Despite it simply being connected at the Isofix points and propped up with the load leg, it doesn’t move at all.
How easy is it to strap your child into the seat?
Two hooks on either side of the seat mean you can move the straps and buckle out of the way while you place your child into the seat. This is a great idea and does help, but hooking the clips into the elastic at either side is very fiddly. But with some practice, it’s something I did without thinking, although I think the elastic that holds the straps in place could be wider.
I found the straps were a little short, so it did take a bit of coaxing to get my son’s arms strapped in. It’s also a high seat so even on a small 1-year-old I had to be careful not to bump his head on the door frame when loading him in.
The buckle is super simple to fasten and feels secure once done up. The car seat’s swivel function certainly helps, making the whole process a lot easier since the seat is right in front of you, taking off all pressure from your back.
Does the Joie i-Spin Safe feel sturdy and safe?
Yes, it feels super sturdy and safe. The fact it locks in, quickly and easily, means you never really give it another thought; it’s just there, not moving, standing solid. Even when swivelling the chair there is no movement from the base, nor is there any rattle when driving.
How easy is it to recline the car seat?
There are 6 recline positions, and you can adjust it easily on the go – there’s a lever under the front that you pull out to recline if your baby has fallen asleep while out.
How easy is it to adjust the Joie i-Spin Safe to your growing child?
I found it really adaptable. It comes with 3 padded newborn inserts, which can be configured to suit your child as they grow – a really useful feature.
The headrest is also easily adjusted and has 6 height positions – as you make it higher (simply done by squeezing a button on the headrest), the harness system simultaneously adjusts, so it requires no re-threading. Perfect if you alternate the seat between children of different ages as we did.
How comfortable is it for your child?
Comfort has got to be one of the best parts of this seat as it has stacks of padding in all the right places. We set off and within a few minutes our 1-year old was nearly always fast asleep.
For older children, as is the case with all rear-facing seats, they need to tilt a bit for their legs to have room. One MFM user tested the seat with her 2 and a half year old and commented, "The seat itself appears deeper to his old one, meaning he has alot more legroom."
She adds, "I also like that his head is very well supported by the curved head support, that can also be adjusted to his head height as he grows."
What are the Joie i-Spin Safe’s main safety features?
The seat’s safety credentials take some beating – it’s i-Size compliant meaning it’s up to date with the latest in car seat safety requirements, and its Swedish Plus test certified, one of the most rigorous car safety tests in the world. This test uses higher speed impact crashes and short breaking distances. So far only rear-facing car seats have passed the test.
It also has Guard Surround Safety panels that auto engage when the harness is tightened, which adds another layer of impact-related peace of mind. And the Tri-Protect headrest includes 3 layers of memory foam protection, to provide extra cushioning for your child's head. All the above means you can be rest assured it’s one of the safest car seats around.
How heavy and bulky is the Joie i-Spin Safe?
This is a big and heavy car seat that’s designed to stay in the car, make no mistake. The Isofix base is built-in, which certainly adds to the bulkiness of the Joie i-Spin Safe – don’t expect to use this like a carrier-style Group 0+ car seat that can be transported here, there and everywhere.
It weighs 14.5kg, which means moving between cars is a real workout, but this is to be expected from a Group 0+/1 car seat that includes a base unit – in fact, against the competition, it’s actually one of the lightest – the Cybex Sirona S i-Size comes a close second at 14.6kg, while the Nuna Norr lags behind with a rather massive weight of 16.3kg.
MFM users who tested the seat also agree, with many noting how large the seat is. One says, "If you are looking at having any more than 2 passengers in the back, it may be even more of a squish than normal with car seats."
How easy is it to rotate the Joie i-Spin Safe?
The spin part of this seat is a dream. It’s so smooth and light that it’s easy to do one-handed. The button you pull on the side of the seat is placed at exactly the right spot for you to keep your grip without any strain on your arm or hand at all.
MFM users also said how useful it was having a swivel button on both sides of the car seat, so you could have it on the passenger or driver's side and still rotate it with ease.
How easy is the i-Spin Safe to clean?
It’s machine washable, so if it gets seriously messy, the covers are simple enough to take off and throw in the washing machine. For any smaller spills, the fabric can be sponged down.
What do you think of the design of the Joie i-Spin Safe?
It’s attractive, minimal and certainly looks as cushioned and comfy as it feels. With the base attached it’s a little ungainly but since it lives in the car most of the time, that’s not really an issue.
Our completely black version was stylish – with smooth lines and a really well shaped finish, it has a premium feel and with little touches like the subtle swivel handle, it’s a great addition to the car.
What feature do you like most in the Joie i- Spin Safe?
Sometimes it’s the little things that make all the difference and the ability to hook the straps at either side of the seat is so helpful.
The Guard Surround Safety feature is great for giving you peace of mind – it cleverly pops out of the sides as you clip the harness in place.
More reassurance comes from the large surrounding headrest, which offers Tri-Protect which is three layers of protection inside the wings – it means a soft cushioning for your baby both while sleeping and in the case of an accident.
What’s in the box?
The seat with its base unit are the main items, as well as the newborn padding already loaded in the seat. As it’s all one piece it makes unpacking very quick – all you have to do is lift it into the car.
There are of course instructions, with a quick start guide and guidance stickers on the seat itself.
Is the car seat good value for money?
While it is pricier than other Group 0+/1 seats out there, it has enough features to make it more than worthwhile – the spin function, supreme comfort and next-level safety are all excellent reasons to invest.
When pitted against other Group 0+/1 rotating car seats at the forefront of car seat safety – that is, those that are i-Size compliant and with a Swedish Plus Test certificate – I think it's a very reasonably-priced option, especially considering the base unit is included in the price.
Spread across four years of use, the price balances out. Also, the fact it’s solid and premium means it will stay looking new for longer too.
Where can I buy the Joie i-Spin Safe?
There’s no denying the bulk and weight of the Joie i-Spin Safe – a common complaint for almost all Group 0+/1 car seats with a built-in base unit. But look past its size and slightly higher price and you’ll find positives that far outshine any negatives – with a 90° swivel feature, impeccable comfort, an ability to stay rear facing up to 18.5kg, and most importantly, top-level safety standards, and you’ll find a car seat that more than pays it way.
If we had a newborn again, it would be hard to part with a Group 0+ seat that’s travel system compatible – it’s so easy to bring your baby in while napping or attaching it to a buggy. However if you're looking for a seat that offers longevity, the i-Spin Safe is a great choice that combines top safety with excellent comfort.
|Dimensions & Weight|
|Child age (approx)||Birth to 4 years|
|Child weight||Up to 18.5kg|
|Child Height||Up to 105cm|
|Car seat installation||Isofix base and isofix connectors|
|Height adjustible headrest||Yes|