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When a pushchair is billed as “the ultimate stroller”, you’re expecting it to be something pretty special. With its futuristic styling and innovative features, the Recaro BabyZen – teamed with one of Recaro’s car seats – doesn’t disappoint. However, the price tag could be a turn-off for many.
The Recaro BabyZen is a funky looking 3-wheeler buggy, suitable from 6 months to around 4 years (20kg), although it can be used from birth either as a travel system with the Recaro Young Profi Plus car seat or the Recaro Yoga carrycot. I tried out the BabyZen with both these optional components, a combo called the BabyZen Trio.
The BabyZen’s big selling point is its compact size. It weighs 10.8kg as a buggy (or roughly 14kg with the car seat attached), and when folded, it is just 25cm deep, with a clever tethering device to hold it upright behind the back seat in your car boot. It claims to fit in the smallest of cars – even the Fiat 500 and the Mini – and can be folded and unfolded with one hand.
Despite its slimline design, the BabyZen doesn’t skimp on features. There’s a solar-powered light on the front, operated from the handlebar, and it has nifty little wheels that enable you to push it along when folded, like a trolley suitcase. The silver and cherry seat covers are reversible, and the buggy seat itself has three recline positions. The front swivel wheel locks automatically for easy manoeuvring on uneven ground, and the pushchair comes with a shopping basket, raincover and sun canopy.
The BabyZen is available in three different packages: the buggy alone for £575, the BabyZen Duo (buggy and car seat, also known as a travel system) for £690, and the BabyZen Trio (buggy, car seat and carrycot, again known as a travel system) for £899.
What we love
When you’re buying a buggy, you often have to make a choice between comfort and size. Not with the BabyZen. It’s incredibly compact when folded, but when unfolded, it is spacious, sturdy and comfortable, with lots of padding and plenty of width across the backrest, meaning that even a big and tall toddler could fit without feeling squashed. I also like the fact that the buggy folds in one piece, without you having to remove the seat unit or wheels.
In all three configurations – car seat, carrycot and buggy – my 6-month-old Katie looks comfortable and happy. The carrycot, being longer and wider than many, is particularly good for older babies who still like to snooze in the pram. Being able to raise the back of the carrycot up slightly is a real benefit, as Katie gets a better view of the world, but can still doze off when she wants. The car seat, 4.3kg, is suitable from birth to 13kg (approximately 15 months), with an extendable back to keep your baby comfortable as she grows, meaning that all the elements of this travel system have a good lifespan.
Both the car seat and the carrycot are easy to fix onto and remove from the buggy. The car seat can be used with or without an ISOFIX base (£75 of the total price shown here). The carrycot has foldout legs so you can set it down on the floor – brilliant if your baby falls asleep on the run, as you can move her indoors without having to take the whole pram in.
I also like the way the buggy reclines using a series of zips. Not only does this make it easy to use, but there’s also less scope for breakage than on a pushchair with a plastic and/or metal recline system.
The BabyZen is both a practical and a stylish buy. The seat covers, for example, have a swish suedette finish, in cherry red and silver, but are machine washable. The headlight, which has both fixed and flashing beams, adds a funky edge, but is also a great safety feature. And being solar-powered, it won’t ever run out of juice.
It’s the sort of travel system that makes heads turn, while also being fantastically user-friendly and easy to manoeuvre. I particularly love the automatic locking front wheel, which makes it a breeze to get the buggy along my gravel drive and out onto the pavement.
What to watch out for
Recaro claims the BabyZen can be folded and unfolded one-handed, and while I did just about manage it, it’s much easier with two hands. I certainly wouldn’t want to attempt it with a baby under my arm, despite the manufacturer’s assertions that this is possible.
Despite the BabyZen’s compact size when folded, it’s not the lightest or slimmest of buggies when upright, so it may not be the best buy for mums who rely on public transport.
While the carrycot and car seat enable your baby to face you, the buggy itself is fixed in a forward facing position.
I was also disappointed with the shopping basket, which would struggle to hold more than one small carrier bag.
The biggest drawback of the BabyZen, though, is its price. The package we tested – including the carrycot, car seat and ISOFIX base – will set you back almost £1,000. This is an awful lot of money, especially if you’re kitting out a nursery at the same time.
Who is the Recaro BabyZen travel system best for?
Families looking for an eye-catching, ultra-compact travel system that doesn’t skimp on style, comfort or ease of use.
The Recaro BabyZen is an extremely well thought out travel system that will see your baby from birth to toddlerhood in comfort. Easy to fold, easy to manoeuvre and easy to store in even the smallest of cars (or homes), it’s also brimming with innovative features – but the price might well make your eyes water.
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|Model||BabyZen - Discontinued|
|Child age (approx)||Birth to 4 years|
Dimensions & Weight
|Dimensions||H:98cm–109cm W:60cm L:95cm|
|Dimensions (folded)||H:88cm W:55cm L:25cm|
|Travel system compatible||Yes|
|Compatible car seats||Recaro Young Profi Plus car seat|
|Seat facing direction||Forward facing and parent facing (with carrycot/car seat)|
|Front wheels||Lockable swivel|
|Accessories included||Shopping basket, sun canopy, raincover, anchoring device for car boot, car seat adaptors|