Britax withdraws Xtensafix child car seat from salePoor result in Which? crash tests prompts removal

12 November 2013

Britax has withdrawn its Xtensafix child car seat from sale after it received a poor score in the independent crash tests conducted by Which? and other European consumer organisations.

The Xtensafix was one of 16 child car seats tested by ADAC, the German automotive club, for European consumer organisations including Which? and Stiftung Warentest. 

To find out which child car seats have fared well in our tough crash tests and convenience assessment visit our child car seats review.

Which? impressed with Britax's actions

Which? child car seat researcher Victoria Pearson says: 'The Xtensafix looked like an exciting new product that offered a long useful life span and the possibility to use a five-point harness for longer - which was good news for parents with heavier toddlers.

'But it did not meet all of our high expectations when we got it to our test lab and scored so poorly in one test that we had to rate it as a Don't Buy. 

'Our tests are more stringent than the legal standard and Britax was not obliged to withdraw the Xtensafix from sale. So we are really pleased that Britax has taken these disappointing results seriously and has acted fast to remove the Xtensafix from sale and offered to refund or replace seats that have already been sold.'

Which? tests Britax Xtensafix

Which? tests around 35 new child car seats each year. Our independent crash tests are more stringent that the United Nations regulation ECE R44 that car seats must comply with to be sold in the EU. The key ways our tests differ are:

  • Our front crash test is carried out at a higher speed than ECE R44 - about 40mph instead of 30mph.
  • We include a side impact crash test, which ECE R44 does not require.
  • We test child car seats in a real car body, not on a sledge with a car bench seat fixed to it, so the position of the seat belt anchorage points and car seat characteristics are more realistic.
The Britax Xtensafix can be used for children between 9-36kg in four different modes, all of which we tested in our simulated crash tests.

We saw severe weaknesses in frontal impact safety that led to a down-rating of the overall test score, qualifying the seat for a Which? Don't Buy recommendation. The problems identified were:

  • very poor frontal impact safety when used as a Group 2/3 seat with Isofix installation
  • poor frontal impact safety when used as a Group 2/3 seat with belted installation

To read more details about how the seat fared in our test, read our full review of the Britax Xtensafix.

Britax withdraws the Xtensafix

In a statement to Which? Britax said: 'In the test results, the Xtensafix received sufficient scores in all usage modes with the seat’s integrated 5-point harness. However, it received an “insufficient” score from ADAC in usage modes with the vehicle’s adult seat belt.

'Parents should rest assured, that the Xtensafix has been fully tested, approved and certified in accordance with the legal standards applicable in the European Union (ECE R44/04) and has passed all legally required safety and other tests in all usage modes. ADAC’s opinions and ratings do not change this position.

'However, simply meeting legal standards is not what Britax Römer is all about and is not what our brand represents. We make premium products, work to very high standards (well above legal requirements) and expect our products to deliver best-in-class performance in the most demanding tests.

'We have, therefore, taken the decision to stop actively manufacturing and selling the Xtensafix in its current form.'

What to do if you own the Xtensafix

Which? advice is to arrange to replace your Xtensafix as soon as possible, but please remember that any ECE R44 approved child car seat is better than no car seat at all.

Britax is offering a full refund or a redeemable store voucher equal to the purchase price paid for parents who return their Xtensafix to the store they bought it from.

Find more details of the offer, and the terms and conditions for it, on the Britax website - Britax Xtensafix product safety information.

In its statement Britax said: 'We do not have concerns in relation to the safety of the seat. We simply want parents to rest assured that buying Britax Römer means, "best products, best levels of service and complete peace of mind".'

More on this...

  • Find out which other poor scoring models still on sale are Don't Buy child car seats
  • We'll help you replace your Britax Xtensafix with a Best Buy child car seat
  • Find out more about our tough crash tests in our guide to how we test child car seats