Maxi-Cosi have just re-released the Elea, but have they made an already excellent pushchair even better?...Come and see the new and improved 2012 model.
We first came across the Maxi-Cosi Elea at Kind + Jugend in Cologne 2010. However the Dorel stand was heaving with buyers from all over the world, so we didn't manage to get close enough to the demonstrations until October when we went to the Baby Show for Trade in London. There, we had a thorough run through of all the original features of this compact but comfortable pushchair.
Now that it has had a face on the scene for a little while, the Elea has been up on the blocks for a make-over. Maxi-Cosi has now released the new and improved 2012 version.
Surprising little design features are what makes this pushchair different. The mechanics work well and make life easier, leaving you to deal with the complexities of your day and not an ill functioning pushchair! For 2012 there are some ommisions and additions to the colour pallete and improvements have been made to the chassis and the canopy.
What's in the box
The RRP for the Maxi-Cosi Elea is £400
Available in Intense Red, Total Black with the addition of the new Sparkling Grape
Regarding the frame, the noticable difference between the previous Elea and the 2012 version is the colour of the moulded plastic elements. Where they were previously a light grey, they are now in a solid black. This gives it a more familiar feel and perhaps it was a necessary change to appeal to a wider audience.
The best bit about the Maxi-Cosi Elea is the fold. You have to try it to really get it…it's so compact.
With the seat unit in place the fold is reasonably small (they call it the ‘Daily Fold'). Simply press two buttons on the right of the handle and one on the left, then push down. It collapses to flat in a relatively ordinary way.
Without the seat unit in place the fold becomes altogether more compact. Performing the same manoeuvres as with the daily fold, the ‘Optimum fold' is achieved by standing it upright on it's front wheels and lifting the carry handle in between the back wheels. The whole frame contracts horizontally, so you're left with nothing bigger than a small stroller size frame. Adjusting the angle of the handle and removing the back wheels reduced it's footprint even further to a mini 84cms high x 32.5cms wide x 15cms deep. OK, so you still have the seat unit to accommodate, but for the build and the style of the pushchair it's still better than being left with both elements at full size.
Open, by pushing the un-missable, red release button, on your right when the frame is folded and stood vertically. I love the fact that is conviently located near the handle and not in the depths of the fold somewhere. Grab the handle and push down, with your foot, on the grey pedal (centre back axle) that looks like the brake. This easy movement makes the whole frame spring to life with a ‘swoosh' followed by a reassuringly solid ‘snap'.
Another incredibly sensible feature is the front swivel wheel control. Located near the slots for inserting the chair unit, the swivel lock buttons mean you no longer have to trot around the front of your pushchair to lock off the wheels on rough terrain….if you ever bothered! I know I would actually use this feature of my pushchair if it was located somewhere easy to reach like this.
The wheels are hard moulded foam, so you get all the bounce without the risk of a flat.
To suit any height parent, the handle can be adjusted to three angles by the two buttons on each side. They have even thought of including a couple of pegs on the inside of the handle to hang your bag, however, sadly they omitted the bag itself.
The basket is large and easy to access even when the seat is in place.
The brakes are lovely, no nonsense and flip-flop friendly. The red pedal on the right; brake on, the blue pedal on the left; brake off.
The seat unit can face forward or rearward and is removed by pressing the buttons on either side. You don't have to keep them depressed while simultaneously lifting off the seat, they click into place independently leaving you hands-free to simply lift. Removing fiddly, annoying, engineering practicalities like this are what makes a pushchair really user friendly because they are the bits that are going to rub when you are actually using it.
The seat has an excellent recline; three positions in either direction from sitting upright to completely flat out with a snooze angle inbetween. If you've ever notice the function of a La-Z-boy recliner, the foot rest extends as the user reclines. The Maxi-Cosi Elea does exactly the same thing instead of simply tilting. The recline control is placed sensibly at the back of the seat, so it's easy to access and use. Well thought out all round.
The seat is covered in a soft wipeable fabric that is well padded for a comfortable ride and the ‘wings' (like those on an armchair) make sure your child is held in place and has something to lean their head on when snoozing.
The bumper bar is solid moulded plastic with a knuckle hinge. Its easy-release mechanism allows it to act as a gate to let your passenger on or off without having to remove it entirely. The five point harness is standard with padding at the crotch and shoulder.
There are three accessories that come as standard with the Maxi-Cosi Elea 2012, and they are the canopy, the Baby Nest and the raincover. To make this a successful ‘from birth' pushchair they rely on each other to do their job and give the proper amount of protection required for an infant.
The Baby Nest has been thoughtfully considered. It resembles a swaddling blanket with a head hugger attached. The bottom flap covers the baby then the two wings wrap over the top, resulting in a triple layered protective cocoon. The top layers can be zipped off in the summer so that you are left with a comfortable pushchair liner. Depending on the size of your baby, it would only be useful for the first three to six months when you would then need to upgrade to a footmuff if the season dictated.
The previous incarnation of the Elea had a canopy that left the passenger a little over exposed. The 2012 Elea has had the canopy expanded to include an extra zip out section that will protect against the wind or the sun - a great improvement.
The raincover is an easy-to-fit (no Velcro or poppers to deal with), effective, tailored cover that mimics they style of the hood with the peep through window lining up perfectly with the one on the hood.
The Maxi-Cosi Elea is a gorgeous modern pushchair that not only looks contemporary but performs in the way our modern lives require it to do. All the mechanics work well and won't leave you in tears in Tesco car park when you can't get your fold to work.
It is surprisingly long and quite wide when it's open but this gives it a low centre of gravity that makes it ultra stable - a fantastic push. I especially love the smooth recline, the flip-flop friendly brakes and the ‘Optimum fold' but you are left with two elements; the seat and the folded frame.
The latest improvements have made an already excellent pushchair into a hard to beat travel system. If this wasn't enough to convince you, why risk any car seat compatibility issues if you can buy a pushchair made by the same manufacturer! Perhaps a weak argument considering Maxi-Cosi car seats are compatible with nearly every pushchair on the market but we buy their car seats because we like their safety, great design and ease-of-use, all things the Elea has in spades.
We give the Maxi-Cosi Elea 2012
4.5 out of 5 stars
Age: From birth
Open size: 80 x 51 x 93.5-106cms
Folded size: 88.5 x 60.5 x 52cms (Daily fold - with seat)