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Petite Star Charisma Review

Review Overview

Petite Star Charisma Review
Expert Reviewer
143 Reviews
Reviewed On: 25 May 2012
Helen Taylor
Expert Reviewer
Helen's Verdict:
3.5 / 5

We have the Petite Star Charisma travel system in for review which will challenge your preconceived ideas but not necessarily your wallet.

Review Summary

Summary

At an RRP of £399.99 there are plenty of other pushchairs to look at, but the Charisma represents value for money when you consider whats included and particularly when you focus in on the pushchair. However we know you can buy the Charisma for a lot less than the RRP. Buy it at a discounted price (we have seen it at £239.99) and it becomes something of a steal and perhaps even 4 stars! 

What’s good
  • Great value for for money
  • Good all terrain
  • Easy fold
What’s not so good
  • Not a left handed fold
  • Basic car seat and carrycot
  • Cannot use alternative car seat

Review Content

Petite Star Charisma Review

If you are an outdoorsy type of person, you are going to need an all-terrain pushchair to maintain your lifestyle post baby. Even a gravel driveway can pose a problem with a conventional stroller or pushchair! 
 

Petite Star have come to the rescue of all ramblers, walkers, strollers and meanderers with their latest 3 wheeler – the Charisma. Don’t be fooled into thinking it’s just an imitation of something of the more upmarket  brands because it has plenty of high end tricks up its sleeve – and more!

Pushchair

When you open the box, the Charisma comes out as a finished unit, you simply have to pop on the wheels and you are away. So your first experience of this uncomplicated pushchair is automatically positive.

Starting at the top, the handle is foam covered with the folding mechanism in the centre...more on this later. The large robust canopy has a Velcro close viewing window in the top and a pull out PVC peak to deflect a light shower. The rear of the canopy extends to enclose the head of the chair. In the warmer months, the rear apron can be folded away to leave a mesh apron for better ventilation.

The seat is spacious at 35cms wide by 30cms deep with a height of 47cms in the back. A five point harness with padded chest straps is not height adjustable but you could carry a smaller child in the carrycot or car seat. On the back of the seat is an ample drawstring pocket that is large enough to carry a small handbag, ideal for separating your things from the toys, nappies bottles etc in the lower basket.

If, like me, you only use 3 programmes from the choice of a possible 30 on your washing machine, you will find the recline quite practical. The seat is supported in its upright position by a buckled strap; undo the buckle and the seat back drops to almost horizontal. However, if you like to have your child at varying degrees of recline, you will have to fiddle with the strap until you have let out enough to reach your intended angle.

Sitting the child back up may be a struggle if they are not willing to play the game because you have to push the back of the seat upright while trying to do up the buckle (if undone) at the same time, plus the 'handy' rear pocket gets in the way, even if it's empty. This is a little easier if you are just pulling up the strap to move the seat upright.

A small calf rest can be angled using the buttons on either side of the seat, something that you will rarely bother with given its size and the seating position of the passenger. The feet rest on the ample footrest above the 360 degree front swivel wheel. All three wheels have pneumatic 28cm tyres giving it fantastic grip and suspension. In conjunction with the linked brake spanning the back axle, stopping and staying stopped is not a problem.

Although there is a lot of space behind the bumper bar, it doesn't have gate opening hinge.

Adventures in the wilderness often require plenty of supplies, so the basket is an adequate 44 x 30 x 15cms. Strapped into the bottom is a tyre pump for any mishaps you may incur en-route.

pushchair
Fold

The one handed fold means you can make a rapid escape to the car when the heavens open. Recline the seat, then grab the centre of the handle, slide the safety catch with your thumb and twist forward. The handle will drop towards the back axle while the front wheel heads the same way until the frame is compacted enough to slide on the manual folding lock. It’s a very elegant, rapid and simple solution to a quick fold but it has one slight catch in that you will need to use both hands if you are left handed.

Fold
Car seat

Not being one for instructions, I just grabbed the seat and attempted to attach it to the pushchair, much to my relief, no instructions were necessary as it’s a doddle. You simply drop it into the sockets that are neatly concealed in the moulding of the frame. When it’s properly affixed, an indicator on the side of the pushchair will turn from red to green. More impressively, removing the seat is just as effortless. On the back of the car seat a red lever releases the car seat from the frame. Given its location, you are in the perfect lifting position to hold the top and bottom of the car seat to remove it comfortably.

The canopy on the car seat and the pushchair can cocoon your child in a neatly sealed environment; however, I would have liked to have seen them marry up a little better to be ideal.

This car seat is a group 0+ and meets all UK safety standards. Personally, I am a little disappointed with the amount of padding surrounding the head area. Small babies will lie perfectly secure in the baby nest, however as they grow out of this, some parents may feel the side impact protection could be better. If car seat safety is a major factor when your are considering your purchase of a travel system and you love the Charisma pushchair but would prefer to use an alternative brand of car seat, there are no adaptors available to allow you to do this.

Car-seat
Carrycot

The carrycot attaches to the frame in exactly the same way as the car seat, dropping directly onto the sockets on the chassis. Extending the hood on the carrycot and the pushchair makes a far greater seal than it does with the car seat. My only dislike is the very cheap, slim and flimsy mattress that is included. It is a foam filled and covered in a slightly rubbery, plastic material.  I am not sure it would effectively allow the air to flow around your baby and certainly has the potential to make them sweaty on a hot day..

An apron covers the end of the carrycot and includes a button up wind break to keep baby cosy.

Removing the carrycot from the pushchair is also clever, depressing the two buttons on either side releases it but as you do so it forms small cups for your fingers to be able to get a good grip to lift it easily.

carrycot-2
Accessories

Included in this amazing package is a beautiful, fleecy footmuff. It’s a good size (80cm long) and attached to the harness. It’s beautifully padded and gives an understated cosy look to complete the pushchair. The top zips off to leave a fleecy liner on warmer days.

Most importantly, especially give the weather recently, the raincover is included. It’s amazingly large and has two wired hoops to make the cavity large and airy. It’s big enough to cover the whole pushchair even when the carrycot or the car seats are in place – brilliant!

Conclusion

I am so impressed with the Petite Star Charisma pushchair. It’s a dream to push and I love the way that the accessories are so simple to combine.

However, I have found a catch... You cannot add an alternative carseat even if you wanted to because there are no adaptors available.

There are a few minor niggles with the pushchair.  The 5 point harness cannot be adjusted in height, but ask yourself honestly, how much would you actually use this function? Some refinement in the seat recline would satisfy a wider audience. Sadly the bumperbar is not gate opening but there is plenty of room behind it. Lastly, left-handers will find the fold fiddly and possibly have to use two hands instead of just one.

I think the Charisma is superb product and, as usual for Petite Star, it lines up against other, well known all-terrain brands and competes on every level; build quality, fold and functionality being the Charisma's selling points.

At an RRP of £399.99 there are plenty of other pushchairs to look at, but the Charisma represents value for money when you consider whats included and particularly when you focus in on the pushchair. However we know you can buy the Charisma for a lot less than the RRP. Buy it at a discounted price (we have seen it at £239.99) and it becomes something of a steal and perhaps even 4 stars! 

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