When buying a car seat, you want only the best for your child. And that means only the safest seats. That’s why many organisations put the seats through vigorous testing regimes in their test centres in order to really discover how safe they are in every eventuality.
Sweden is renowned for their high safety standards and high quality products. The Plus Test, reflects this and tests seats to the Swedish Standard, which is above and beyond most other testing centres. Initiated in 2009 in the VTI crash lab in Linkoping, Sweden, the Plus Test focuses on rear facing seats. Rear Facing is proven to be the safest direction of travel in the event of front impact crash by up to 5x. The seat does not technically have to be rear facing to pass the test, however it is rare that forward facing car seats are even subjected to this crash testing criteria as they are unlikely to succeed. To date only rear facing car seats have been given Plus Test approval due to the reduced forces exerted on the head and the neck.
What Are The Requirements For The Plus Test?
- They must not exceed Max 18kg for ISOFIX and max 25kg for Belted Installation seats
- They must be able to be fitted into any seat in the vehicle
- The plus test focuses on forces exerted on the head and neck
- So far, only rear facing seats have passed the test
What Does The Plus Test Include?
- High speed impact crashes -higher than i-size (R447/R129) regulations
- Very short breaking distances = high impact forces
- Extremely sensitive measuring sensors-especially on the neck
The test is voluntary, meaning no car seat is required to take it. Instead, car seat manufacturers opt into to the test, to prove their seats are some of the safest on the market, even safer than i-size. Given the extremely strict and vigorous test circumstances, only a few seats have passed the Plus Test. The list currently stands at 14 seats. Below are some of our favourites and a little more information on them.
As an ADAC and Which? group winner, the BeSafe iZi Kid X2 is a very safe bet and solid investment. Suitable from 6 months to 4 years, this seat uses ISOFIX installation to make things simple yet sturdy, It's also i-Size compliant, so it meets and exceeds all the latest safety requirements including Side Impact Protection.
The Britax Romer Max Way is suitable from 9-25kg and is a small and compact seat, perfect for fitting in even the smallest of cars. The belted installation makes it easy to fit in any vehicle and is supported by the tether straps for extra stability. It includes a foot prop to avoid rotation.
Both the new and old versions of the Axkid Minikid passed the Plus Test. This compact seat is suitable from birth to 6 years (0-25kg) and rear faces throughout. Axkid is a Swedish brand that has championed Extended Rear facing since their conception. The Minikid uses belted installation, supported by tether straps and a foot prop. The 2018 version features a comfier seat and improved Side Impact Protection.
Another compact seat, the Axkid Move is a simple, affordable solution when keeping your child rear facing for longer. The belted seat is supported by an easily adjusted support leg and tether straps. It’s suitable from 9-25kg.
In contrast to many of the seats in the list, the Concord Reverso Plus is suitable from birth and meets i-size regulations. It also features ISOFIX installation thanks to the integrated base. As it is suitable from birth, it only rear faces to 105cm (approx. 4 years), a little less than some other ERF seats.
Suitable from 6 months to 5 years and Rear Facing throughout, the BeSafe iZi Plus offers protection from every angle. The advanced Side Impact Protection bumpers and innovative harness system that reduces the energy exerted on the child make for a super safe duo. The iZi Plus is installed using the vehicle seatbelt and also features a foot prop to avoid rotation.
Using the Plus Test is a great way to know which seats are really as safe as they say they are. They are thoroughly put through their paces to test their mettle. If you wish to rear face your child for longer, then the seats above are a safe bet. Ideally, it is best to start your child in an infant carrier, as these are designed to best suit your baby's needs at an early age. When ready, move your little one into a rear facing seat like the ones mentioned, that also offer Side Impact Protection.
It is important to remember that the Plus Test is to the Swedish Standard. The Test focuses on forward and rear impacts, particularly at very high speeds. Sweden, like many European countries, contains many high speed, straight roads and does not have many roundabouts or similar junctions like we do here in the UK. For this reason, for a car seat in the UK, Side Impact Protection is very important, as we are just as likely to receive a side impact as we are a forward or rear. So while Extended Rear facing is still much safer, make sure you consider a seat's Side Impact Protection too!
We're always happy to give advice and guidance on car seats here at Baby & Co, as we know it can be a confusing world! Don't hesitate to get in touch with us for any more information about the Plus Test, Rear Facing or any other car seat questions.
See the Full List of Swedish Plus Test Car Seats Here