Verdict in 10 seconds
Standout value, light in weight and folds to the smallest size of all on test. The Maxi-Cosi Zelia may well be the best travel system on the market for under £400.
- Great value for money
- 2-in-1 pushchair – seat converts to a lie-flat bassinet
- Easy one-handed, compact fold
- Tricky to change seat position with heavier child
- Wide frame not ideal for public transport and small shops
- Straps can be fiddly
What are the key features?
- Full reclining seat with a lie-flat position
- Integrated bassinet
- Seat adjusts to parent-facing or road-facing in just two clicks
- Rain cover included
- Five-point harness
- Removable bumper bar
- Sun canopy with a peek-a-boo window and visor
- Height-adjustable handlebar
- Lockable swivel wheels
- Rear-wheel suspension
- Car seat compatible
What are the specs?
- Suitable from: Birth to 15kg
- Pushchair orientation: Parent- and world-facing
- Number of wheels: Four
- Dimensions: H 98.5–103 x W 64.5 x L 101.5 cm
- Dimensions (folded): H 65 x W 36 x L 75 cm
- Weight: 9.6kg
- RRP: £299 at time of review
- Extras included: Rain cover, bumper bar, sun canopy, boot cover/apron
- Compatible with the following car seats: Maxi-Cosi CabrioFix, Maxi-Cosi Pebble, Maxi-Cosi Pebble Plus, Maxi-Cosi Rock and Maxi-Cosi Citi
What does the package include?
The Maxi-Cosi Zelia arrived in the smallest box of all on test with everything necessary for immediate assembly.
Included in the box is a rain cover and a boot cover/apron, which can be used when the seat is upright or laid flat in bassinet mode, as well as care and assembly instructions.
The stroller is compatible with a Maxi-Cosi car seat, which you’ll need to purchase separately along with car seat adaptors.
As Maxi-Cosi are so confident in their quality, the Zelia comes with a 24-month guarantee. To contact customer services, you'll find an email address and a landline phone number on their website.
How easy is the Maxi-Cosi Zelia to assemble?
Assembly was quick and easy for our tester, taking her just under 10 minutes after battling with the wheels – she found they needed a good push to be clicked into place, but once on they were very secure.
Every item is lightweight and all parts fit together well. The frame is already built so it is just a case of adding the wheels, clicking the seat directly onto the chassis (this was simple and there was no concern about doing this incorrectly) and then attaching the hood. Overall, our tester found assembly very straightforward.
If you get stuck, there are plenty of short, easy-to-watch online videos online to show you how to fold and fit the various parts.
How does it look?
While the Zelia is attractive, its design doesn't stand out from the crowd unlike the distinctive Stokke Xplory or brightly-patterned Bugaboo Fox that were also tested (although the Stokke did not make our final five).
Despite not being overly original in design, this pushchair is clearly good quality. The material itself feels strong and hard-wearing, and our tester felt that it looked more expensive than its very reasonable price point.
We tested the Zelia in nomad black, but it comes in five other colourways including red, blue, grey, sparkling blue and sparkling grey. The black colourway was flecked with specks of grey, which made it feel richer and also helped to hide any marks made during the testing process.
How comfortable is it?
A selling point for our tester was the roomy seat which was larger than others on test, such as the BabyStyle Oyster 3. It also holds up to 15kg, which is a child's weight at approximately three-and-a-half years old.
She felt it easily fit her two-year-old with plenty of room for growing too. She particularly liked its upright positioning which made it more of a chair than a reclining pushchair seat and allowed her child to engage with the world around him.
With a couple of clicks, the seat can also be converted to a bassinet making it ideal for use with a newborn.
Our tester had no doubt that the Maxi-Cosi will grow with your family, unlike others on test, such as the Oyster 3, which felt slightly on the small side.
"I have a Maxi-Cosi Zelia and I love it. It's lightweight so I can pick up the chassis one-handed and it folds and unfolds really easily."
What's it like to use day-to-day?
The recline is really easy to change on the go and there are three positions to choose from – simply pinch together the clip to move the seat to a different angle.
While this can be done one-handed, our tester was concerned that, with the additional weight of a baby leaning into the seat, parents with older children might struggle to adjust it smoothly. She also noted that, as with all buggies that use a strap for recline adjustment, altering the seat position could sometimes be a little stiff and jerky.
The carrycot recline, however, is a really great feature and, as you'd expect, it lies completely flat for a newborn. It has high sides and the apron covers it well for extra security. Because it has been converted from main seat unit, you can also still strap the baby in if you prefer.
She also noted that the carrycot was overly roomy for a younger baby, so she used a thick blanket for extra padding and kept the belly bar on as well.
When it came to the apron, it felt very secure and was easy to fit, although it could be kicked off at the end by wrigglers so an extra popper by the feet would have be handy here.
Our tester was pleasantly surprised with the Zelia when she took it out and about. Due to price and how lightweight it is as a whole, she was expecting a harsh journey for her baby, but this wasn't the case at all.
The Zelia handles the everyday bumps (kerbs, uneven pavement etc) really well and is ideal for walking to the shops and around town.
The storage basket is possibly the biggest we tested and easily takes three to four shopping bags and a changing bag with extra room for a few impulse buys too.
But, while the large storage basket made this pushchair a good shopping companion, the wide frame did make some smaller shops a challenge.
One element that bothered our tester and her six-foot partner though was the adjustment in the handles. She found the handles only raised in height by a couple of inches so the positioning for both adults wasn’t exactly where she would like it. A little more range in this area, like the Nuna, would make all the difference.
And what about the fold?
The Maxi-Cosi Zelia has a flip-style mechanism that makes it easy to fold and unfold, but you do need two hands.
Also keep in mind that it can only be folded with the seat facing forward and can't be folded with anything in the storage basket, which isn’t ideal if you need to fold your buggy on the bus or train.
It lays flat, so it can be stored upright and, if you remove the seat, it’s even slimmer to store. Our tester was really impressed with the size of this buggy once folded as it was so small and compact compared to some of its competitors, such as the Mamas & Papas Ocarro, yet it had the feel of a bigger travel system when fully assembled.
As a result, the Zelia slipped effortlessly into the boot of our tester’s car leaving plenty of space for extras. There is also a carry handle (although it looks more like a bar than a custom handle) for easier lifting.
"The carrycot converts into a seat, which saves space in the house and it means the carrycot doesn't become obsolete once the baby is sitting. The basket underneath is really big which is always a bonus. I love it!"
How safe is it?
The frame is lightweight, but it has a wide base making it feel surprisingly sturdy. The Zelia went on the school run and shopping trips as well as off-road weekend romps, and our tester ensured it was fully loaded to identify any topple concerns. There were none as the Zelia allows you to hang a nappy bag or shopping on the handle up to the weight of 2kg.
While the five-point harness is safe and secure, our tester did struggle with the fact that the shoulder and waist straps shared a clip, so her child’s arms had to be bent through the harness.
Her concern was that, with a tantruming toddler, it would be harder to get them in or out of the pushchair. She found it helped to fully loosen a strap, put the baby’s arm in, then tighten before doing the same with the other side.
Once fastened, the baby couldn't wriggle free, aided by the well-positioned belly bar.
The brake is positioned on the right side of the bar, but effectively locks both rear wheels. It clicks on and off easily and can even be managed with flip-flops or bare feet. Once applied, the brake holds really well.
What about the extras?
The sunshade is included as standard and is UV 50+-protected. Our tester found it very useful and a great size, covering the baby completely in a protective cocoon to safeguard them from the elements. The included apron will help to keep out any wind too.
The same was true with the rain cover, which was also included in the package. It was easy and quick to fit onto the pram, although it took a little more time when the seat was lying completely flat, and was also a good size – it covered the whole buggy whether the seat was upright or in carrycot mode.
While the bundle is short on extras overall, there’s plenty to choose from in the Maxi-Cosi range including a changing bag, parasol, footmuff and handlebar gloves.
How easy is it to clean?
The dark colour fabric of the model we tested was hardwearing and still looked brand-new after the testing period. Grey specks helped to hide any marks created during the day and the fabric was easy to scrub down with a damp cloth (and dried quickly) if there were any stains.
Our tester and her seven-month-old put it through rigorous spillage tests, including spilled milk and bits of dried baby food, and all wiped off easily.
Because the comfort cushion and cover are not removable, they need to be washed with water, soap and a sponge. Regardless of this, the buggy still looked great.
While it may have a lower price tag than most of the travel systems we tested, the quality of the Maxi-Cosi Zelia is still hard to beat.
The two-in-one seat is a major selling point for any new parent and its lightweight frame means this pushchair is easy to handle while also standing up to the rigours of everyday family life.
Overall, the Zelia exceeded all expectations and is an ideal choice for any family whether you're on a tight budget or not.
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All prices correct at time of publication