Which? advice: Don't Buy Hauck Varioguard car seatBelted base fails our frontal crash tests

28 May 2015

Hauck Varioguard FF Group 1 belted-base

Group 1 forward-facing, belted base: the seat of the Hauck Varioguard tips forward from the base during the crash

Which? is advising parents who own the Hauck Varioguard child car seat – and are using it with the base belted-in, forward-facing – to replace it. This seat was downgraded to our lowest test score of 0% following a failure in one of our key crash tests.

The Hauck Varioguard seat is sold as a package with a base included. The base can be fixed to your car by using Isofix connectors, or by using the car's adult seat belt.

If you have this car seat and are using it in a forward-facing, Group 1 mode, with the base attached to your car using the seat belt (and your car does not have Isofix connectors), our advice is to replace this car seat as soon as possible, following poor frontal-crash test results in this mode.

Hauck Varioguard crash test results

The Hauck Varioguard is an affordable, extended, rear-facing child car seat. It costs around £180 and the fact that it can be used rearward-facing up until 18kg, or your child is around four years of age, means many parents may be tempted to buy this car seat to keep their children rearward-facing for longer. 

This child car seat has passed the official regulatory tests required by ECE R44/04 to be sold as suitable for children from birth up to 18kg (around four years old). But in our own, more demanding, crash tests it scored 0% overall for safety – the lowest test score possible. Our crash tests are conducted at higher speeds and forces than the current R44.04 UK standards require.

The Hauck Varioguard failed one of our key crash tests when used as a Group 1, forward-facing seat, with the base fixed to the car using the adult seat belt. 

The car seat did not fail the same test when the base was installed using the Isofix connectors.

Which? members can get a full explanation of the crash test results by reading the full review of the Hauck Varioguard Group 123 car seat.

Hauck Varioguard ff with base

The Hauck Varioguard Group 0+/1 car seat

Which? child car seat testing

Which? tests child car seats in collaboration with other European consumer and motoring organisations. 

Our specially designed crash tests are carried out by experts and based on EuroNCAP crash testing, which are based on typical real-life crashes. 

Each car seat we test endures two different crash tests: a front crash and a side-impact crash. Our crash tests are severe and our experts believe they reflect what happens in real crashes more than the legal minimum standards.

The crash test data results indicate that a child using the Hauck Varioguard in Group 1 mode, forward-facing, with the based attached by the car's seat belt, could be at high risk of serious injury in the front crashes we simulated.

Hauck responds to results

Responding to the crash test results in Germany, a spokesperson for Hauck told Focus.de the crash tests conducted represent an extreme load on the seat and are well above the requirements of the ECE 44/04 impact speed. Hauck went to on say that while the seat shell detached from the rear anchor points, the seat remained connected to the base. Hauck reiterated that the Varioguard meets all the requirements of ECE 44/04.

Which? says

UK law states that children must use a car seat until they are 12 years old or 135cm tall, but our advice is to use a car seat for all children under 150cm tall. 

Even a Don't Buy car seat, as long as it is marked as approved to ECE R44/04 or i-Size R129, is better than no car seat at all, and will provide some protection in a crash, but we recommend you swap to a Best Buy car seat as soon as possible.  

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