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I'm a married mum who loves chocolate & music & having an opinion on just about everything! E-Mail summermama@hotmail.co.uk

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Product Review: Quinny Zapp and Quinny Zapp Xtra

How Much? RRP £155 for the Quinny Zapp: RRP £230 for the Quinny Zapp Xtra OR buy a Zapp Xtra seat unit & recline adaptors as accessory for standard Zapp at RRP £100
Where? Any authorised Quinny retailer

When I went on maternity leave from my job, the lovely people that I work with did a little collection and they brought me a Quinny Zapp in Rebel Red to compliment my existing travel system. As I've already mentioned, I have the Maxi Cosi Mura 3 for my 'home' pushchair, but it isn't the most practical item to fit into my car when I'm going a longer distance and need to take a lot of other stuff, for example when we go back Down South in the next couple of weeks to visit my sister-in-law, who is due to have her first baby any day now, we will need a bag or two of belongings with us and a set of wheels, and with that in mind I have a problem; I needed a bigger car, or a smaller pushchair.

Enter the Quinny Zapp ...

Quinny Zapp Rebel Red (2010)

Quinny Zapp chassis (Limited Edition B&W Black chassis 2010) and Maxi Cosi CabrioFix Tango Red (2010)

The Zapp chassis is compatible with the Maxi Cosi CabrioFix and the Maxi Cosi Pebble carseats, and at a lightweight 7.8kg for the chassis and an ultra compact fold, it makes the Zapp an ideal buggy for popping in the car boot of even the smallest vehicle. I can successfully get a weeks worth of grocery shopping, plus Zapp chassis, into the boot of my little car, which is great for me.

The Zapp isn't a standard fold which both my mother and my mother in law can't get to grips with. I love it, because it folds the chassis down much more compact than you'd expect considering its 102cm tall when unfolded (Tall enough for Hubby to use it without stooping, and he's 6ft 1ins). You've got buttons either side of the chassis as you're standing behind it - Number 1 you press in, and because its a memory button it stays in; Then you press number 2, which isn't a memory button so you hold it in; Now with your foot, bring the number 3 unit (on the central tube of the chassis) towards you and the pushchair unfolds. In reality, I find my toe doesn't quite stretch down as far as where the number 3 unit is located (I'm 5ft 6ins - my mother in law is 5ft 4ins and for her its impossible without a limbo-type excersise underneath the handlebars). A lot of the time I end up on my knees to unlock this part with my hands, which I guess shows it could be improved upon. One thing I must say here is that a clean with furniture polish and a soft cloth really does help the fold and unfold mechanism, it makes it much more smooth up the central tube which makes it much easier. Its recommended thats done every six to eight weeks depending on how much you use it, I would say you'd probably need to do it every four to five weeks really to keep it as good as possible. Also the wheels need regular cleaning too, I just unlock mine from the chassis and swirl them about in some warm soapy water, clean the attachments on the chassis with more furniture polish and then rinse and dry the wheels before I put them back on. Also Back to Black (for cars) will bring up the wheels a treat, they'll look as good as new, but as this is a type of polish be very careful as it will mean the unit is more slippery to control and also it means the brakes won't be able to hold as well!

Also when you fold the Zapp down to make sure that front wheel doesn't get damaged in transit, a good tip is to always lock it in the non-swivel position when you fold it down so its more protected and within the chassis but also it means it won't move around and get damaged that way. The Quinny Zapp travel bag is available as an accessory but it is a tight fit and to be honest unless you do a lot of airline or coach travel and particularly want the chassis in a bag then you probably won't get much use out of it. I just put the Zapp in my car boot folded down and it's all fine.

To begin with, I kept the chassis fitted with the carseat adaptors and no fabric in the car boot along with the raincover for the CabrioFix and when we reached where we were going I'd pop the CabrioFix out of the base and off we went. Thinking back now I should have insisted when I was discharged from hospital with The Boy that Hubby brought in the Zapp chassis so I could have wheeled the CabrioFix rather than struggled to carry it from the maternity ward down to the car (why is the maternity ward always the furthest from the carpark?!?) It would have saved me a lot of trouble! (I was insistant that I carried The Boy out of hospital and wouldn't allow Hubby or mother in law to help at all!) But despite that, afterwards the Zapp chassis travelled everywhere in the car with us, and proved its worth time and time again. I will say that when the CabrioFix had the summer cover on it, due to where the fixing points are under the handlebar knuckles, it did make putting the carseat onto pushchair adaptors more difficult as sometimes you had to try and get them in the right place before the carseat would click into position properly.

I'm glad I took the Mura when I went to stay with my parents - because I took The Boy out for many long walks using the Mura carrycot, and he wouldn't have been as comfy in the CabrioFix, and also because when it snowed, the Mura got through it like the Zapp wouldn't have hoped to in a million years! But generally speaking for standard UK weather, the Zapp is fab. Its lightweight, so its easy to lift in and out of the car, but a downside of this is that you really cannot hang anything from the handles. I know all manufacturers say this, and all mums go, Yeah, yeah, whatever, and hang stuff from the handles anyway, but with the Zapp the manufacturers do mean it. Its such a lightweight product that even the weight of a jacket on the handlebars can alter the centre of balance enough. And again while manufacturers always say keep your hands on the handles at all times and all mums say, Yeah, yeah, whatever, it is again really important with the Zapp, as due to the lightweight chassis a child kicking out or wriggling about a lot could easily throw the Zapp off balance (especially the rather large four year old I saw in town having a paddy the other day in a Zapp!) The good news is though that since 2010 the Zapp has a little shopping basket (doesn't hold much, but it is enough for a couple of small items) I tend to keep my raincover in the shopping basket when I'm out with the Zapp, but you can't leave it in the shopping basket when you fold it up as the fold mechanism needs the basket to move with it, so it has to be emptied prior to folding.

Since The Boy became too large for the CabrioFix and I changed over to using the Opal carseat, I can no longer pop the carseat onto the chassis when we reach our destination, so I had Hubby fit the seat fabric back into the Zapp chassis, and evicted the CabrioFix raincover out of the car in favour for the standard Zapp one. The Boy loves being in his Zapp as he's world facing and it offers a very upright position compared with a lot of pushchairs; I notice in the Mila he looks like he is quite far back and he strains to sit up further - but while I know he likes being nosey I must admit I still prefer the Mura for longer times in the pushchair as it means I can interact with him much more easily and see what he's up to (he has a habit for pulling off socks, shoes and hats and throwing them around at will when we're out as well as grabbing things off shelves in shops!)

Also with the Zapp I love that its got two pedals; One is the brake on (a nice obvious red triangle) the other is the brake off (a plain grey triangle on the standard Zapp, a black one on the Limited Edition chassis). I'm lucky enough to have a Limited Edition B&W 2010 collection Black Zapp chassis now, which looks amazing with my original Rebel Red fabrics in it, and I'm quite tempted to see if I can find a set of the old colour Cobalt as that was a striking rich blue which I think would look lovely in the Black chassis.

My mum doesn't really like using the Zapp that much, but she's got more confident with it over time, and with the addition of the Zapp Xtra seat and recline adaptors she much prefers it! When we stay at their holiday home on the coast whether its for a day or longer, we put the Zapp Xtra seat unit into the chassis so that The Boy can be parent facing (or rather, grandparent facing!) and reclined for when he drops off to sleep. It saves me having to take the Mura when we visit, which is more space left in the car and less for me to remember, both are good bonus points as far as I'm concerned! Mum really cannot get to grips with the folding and unfolding though, and neither can my dad (maybe a generation thing, because it doesn't do what they expect it to do?) I think that given time they would get the hang of it though. As it is if I leave The Boy with them I put the Zapp into position so its ready to go and even if they don't go out all day and just leave it parked in the corner they're happier that they could go out if they wanted to!

My mother in law hates the Zapp. She says its too heavy (really!?!?) that its awkward to use (she compares it to a supermarket shopping trolley with the front wheel on swivel, but with it locked she complains it is too difficult to steer) She doesn't understand how it folds down or unfolds, and every time she tries to do it she has trouble. She doesn't like the raincover, she doesn't like how upright The Boy sits when he is in it (she says it looks like he's going to tip out) and she doesn't like the fact that she can't recline it if he falls asleep in it. Get the feeling she isn't keen? Well so did I, and since she does look after The Boy quite regularly for the whole day while I'm in the office, I felt it was important that she had something she could work better with! The other week it took her and father in law almost an hour to unfold the Zapp, and she was in a right pickle with it when I got there (I can't for the life of me work out what they expect it to do or how they can get it so wrong every time, but there we go!) so I did some research then popped out after work and did a spot of shopping and brought home a Maxi Cosi Mila. More on that in another blog!!

My Zapp is still a much loved member of the household for me, but it is my car buggy and if I'm going out walking I would never take the Zapp instead of the Mura. I find, especially in our town, that because of the hard wheels and lack of suspension, The Boy looks like he's being jolted about the whole time in the Zapp, whereas in the Mura its a much smoother, more enjoyable ride for him. The Zapp has its place though, most definitely; It made travelling with The Boy when he was younger much easier, just slotting the carseat into the chassis before we took off was great, and now he's older and uses the standard fabric most of the time he gets a nose around when we go to somewhere different, like into the City for the day. As the summer progresses and we go out to zoos, parks etc it is going to be used much more often, and while I don't expect to not have any niggles at all, it certainly does what it says it does, and you can't say fairer than that.

Personally I think the cost of the Zapp Xtra is excessive, and I wouldn't use it as a transport system for a young baby without a carseat - while the Xtra seat does go parent facing and does recline to make it suitable from newborn, personally speaking I feel I would want more protection around a young baby. The first time I used the Xtra seat unit, The Boy was four months old, and I put it away after that until he was eight months old and by then I felt it was more suitable. He was too exposed in the Zapp Xtra seat unit and it doesn't offer a lot of padding either, so I much preferred him to be in the carseat ont he chassis when he was younger. Also I found that when using the Zapp Xtra seat unit in the recline position the hood is inclined to flop down when you go over bumps or in the slightest breeze; Though it has been confirmed that thanks to customer feedback, Quinny are investigating how this can be remedied. When the seat unit is parent facing it won't sit totally upright (the mechanical aspect of the unit makes this impossible to achieve with satisfactory safety results) which will upset a few customers who want older children facing them, as older children will want to sit more upright than this seat can offer in parent facing mode, but I don't know of a pushchair that does offer fully upright in parent facing, correct me if I'm wrong. The industry on the whole seems to believe that once baby is old enough to go forward facing, all us parents will be happy not looking at our precious bundle every few minutes to chat, check they're OK, etc - I know a lot of parents do just stick their kids in a forward facing buggy as early as possible so they can ignore it 90% of the time, but some of us like to interact more with our kids and it doesn't seem fair that we're missing out on this ability with so many of the products right now not offering a full range of parent facing options, but there are apparently a lot of technical problems to overcome.

Anyway I love my Zapp, but I'm not so keen on the Zapp Xtra - I can see why they tried to do it, and I hope the customers are happy now their feedback has introduced this new model to the Quinny range, but personally it doesn't rock my world; The only thing I prefer on the Xtra compared to the standard model is that The Boy can be parent facing, but I don't feel this is enough to justify the cost. If anyone is considering a Zapp Xtra this is my advice;
- Don't buy one if you want to take the pushchair walking in the woods, at the beach, or you live in an area with a lot of uneven road surfaces/potholes/cobblestones etc to negotiate. The Zapp is fine for smooth surfaces like shopping malls, supermarkets etc, but anything else is a pretty rough ride for a young baby.
- If you get one, get the shopping basket for it, as that will make all the difference when its a case of carrying shopping or fitting it into the basket, but unless you particularly think you'll need the travel bag don't bother with that! Also I think it would be fairly preferable to have a parasol on the chassis, as the sun canopy is deep but quite high, making it fine for an older, taller child, but not as suitable for a younger child.

I give the Zapp a four out of five: It really could do with softer wheels or some suspension, but ultimately you get a basic pushchair for your money that you can use with your Maxi Cosi Group 0+ carseat so it does what it says on the box and you can't really complain!

The Zapp Xtra I'm not impressed with :( I'd give it three out of five, simply because I think they didn't take it far enough to make it entirely suitable for a young baby to use. More padding or a baby nest for the seat unit would be a welcome addition.

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