Attractive and practical, the Mamas & Papas Switch travel system is potentially a very good product. However, its manoeuvrability factor lets it down.
The Mamas & Papas Switch is suitable from birth and converts easily from pram to forward or rear facing buggy with no carrycot to store. This is one of its more practical features, along with the fold down concertina-style collapse, which never fails to impress.
Coupled with either the recently introduced Mamas & Papas Cybex Aton car seat or, as tested in this review, the Mamas & Papas Primo Viaggio ES car seat, it becomes a travel system by sitting the car seat on the chassis.
The Switch features an adjustable legrest, handle and harness height, reclinable backrest recline a five-point fixed safety harness.
For a price tag of £399 for the City Scape colourway, the Mamas & Papas Switch buggy comes with an apron and raincover. The Primo Viaggio ES car seat adds £145, taking the travel system cost to £544. However, Mamas & Papas does have deals – currently, you can get £50 off when you buy the buggy and car seat. And the other colourways do cost more. You can also get an ISOFIX base for £140 or a Surefix base for £98. The car seat can fit in your vehicle without these though, using the car’s own seatbelt. Mamas & Papas also offers a two-year guarantee for all these products.
What we love
Using the Group 0+ Primo Viaggio ES car seat (suitable from birth to 13kg), a friend’s 13-month-old son Jonathan was more than happy to roadtest and ride in it for me. At his age, he has almost outgrown the Group 0+, however he appeared comfortable in the cars eat in both the car and on the buggy chassis.
I tried the car seat in my vehicle with both the ISOFIX base and with seatbelt installation. Having never tried ISOFIX before I was suitably taken with it and if your car has this option, then it’ll make life really easy for you.
The base immediately attaches with no hassle and then the car seat simply clicks in and out of place, which is handy if you plan to use the Switch in travel system mode a lot.
Also this ISOFIX base can suits the next car seat. The Group 1 car seat sits on the same base, so you don’t need to replace the base when your baby moves to the next stage car seat – you can get up to four years use out of it.
Moving on to the Switch itself, it’s simple to assemble and easy to use, as well as being an attractive piece of kit. The silver and black framework is eye-catching and sits well with the fabric. I tested the Cityscape model, a grey/black mix.
Converting the Switch from lie-flat to sitting up, reclining the seat, changing the seat direction and attaching the car seat to the chassis is all extremely straightforward. I soon realised this travel system is aptly named – it is easy to ‘switch’ between the different modes.
The Switch, in buggy mode, sits up nice and straight and this was how I trialled it with my toddler daughter Esme. I was impressed – Esme is tall and nearly 3 but still managed to fit with the hood on.
Collapsing the Mamas & Papas Switch is a neat trick due to its clever concertina-style fold. When folded, it’s compact, making this a travel system suitable for drivers of smaller vehicles or those with less storage space at home. It is also free standing; again saving on space.
The Switch’s folding mechanism is good, and it can be folded with or without the seat attached. It folds by sliding two clips either side of the pushchair up towards you before pulling up on the handle at the back. To unfold the buggy, you have to unfasten the same clips to release it and push down using your foot to secure it.
The hood of the Switch extends a long, long way, tilting forward to create calm or shade for your little one. Also, the apron is well padded.
The shopping basket has ample room although not the greatest access, but think before you totally load it up. Unfortunately my full load of groceries added to some already serious steering issues.
What to watch out for
I know that my daughter is at the latter end of the age scale for trying the Mamas & Papas Switch buggy out, so I wasn’t surprised that the apron was rendered obsolete or that the buggy was very weighty with her onboard. It did surprise me however, that I had trouble manoeuvring the pushchair out and about while testing it on the street. Surely, this is the place it ought to have performed well?
Awkward to steer with front wheels locked in the swivel position, it kept doing what it wanted to do, similar to a badly behaved shopping trolley. It was more than frustrating at times. Even with the wheels locked in the fixed position, it was a real chore. Trying to push it up the pavement was tricky and as for steps, I didn’t even try.
The surprising thing was that even without my daughter but 13-month-old Jonathan strapped in, it was still a heavy push. And this is Mamas & Papas most lightweight option to date, weighing in at approximately 10kg.
The Mamas & Papas Switch claims to have all-round wheel suspension but you should be aware that suspension on it is non-existent, and off-roading is a complete no-no. Also, because the handles are made of plastic and rubber they don’t add to the overall comfort and ease of the pushing experience. In the summer months your grip could soon become sweaty.
If you have a toddler walking beside you as well as a baby in the Switch, you’ll find pushing the system one-handed difficult.
Initially I thought the raincover quite clever as it zips onto the hood, but actually, this just means that quite a lot of the pushchair is not protected from getting soaked – just as I did, while trying to fasten the zip in place.
Also, from a keeping clean point of view, I couldn’t find any washing instruction tags. The fabric collects dust like you would not believe, showing up badly on the black.
It is really disappointing that the £399 price tag doesn’t come with much more than the Switch itself, and that as a travel system, you’ll be paying well over £500. I can’t quite believe there’s not even a changing bag thrown in (the change bag is priced at £58).
There are more accessories available to purchase and these include the pram liner and infant carrier raincover. To my mind, both of these items are a necessity if you’re buying this product as a travel system and to use with your newborn. First of all, the soft cotton white pram liner (£48) pads the Switch when in pram mode, making it comfortable for baby – as it is, it is hard and rough without it. And the raincover (£18) is needed to protect your baby and car seat in wet weather if you happen to be using that on the chassis instead of the pushchair seat.
Called a ‘Pliko Switch’ on the packaging and one of the labels on the pushchair, it is confusing that, at the time of writing this review, the Mamas & Papas website only gives you a page of car seats when you search for ‘Pliko Switch’. The Pliko and the Switch are listed as two separate items.
Who is the Mamas & Papas Switch travel system best for?
Parents with small cars and not a lot of storage space at home who don’t plan to go out on country paths.
The Mamas & Papas Switch could potentially be a good travel system/pushchair, but unfortunately steering issues and weight let it down. Surprisingly compact when folded, it is bulky when upright. This travel system sits at the upper end of the price range when you consider all the add-ons and hidden extras – it will cost you far more than you first imagine.