The ERF (extended rear facing) i-size car seat problem

Government guidelines in the new i-size car seats (which will likely be law from 2015) will mean that toddlers must stay rear facing until 15 months minimum. In countries like Sweden it is 4yrs old.
This is a GOOD thing. Small children have large heads and weak necks, and can suffer catastrophic neck injuries in even low speed crashes no matter how safe the seat. However if rear facing the forces are taken up by the seat and the head isn’t thrown forwards. This is not subjective, it’s fact.
Watch this video:

Children are five times safer rear facing.

There are now plenty of ERF seats available in the UK. There’s only one problem. They are massive. I have a BeSafe Izi Combi isofix and it takes up about 84cm.
I recently sold my Audi A6 Allroad. It was a superb, faultless car. However due to the size of the seat I kept bashing my poor son’s head on the ceiling each time I put him in the car. Plus it was awkward getting him buckled in due to the low roof profile. The last, and most important issue was that of passenger leg room. It was OK ish in the Audi, but not great.
No problem, I thought. I’ll get a 4×4. They have plenty of leg room. Right?

All the photos are with the BeSafe seat fitted and the front passenger seat as far back as it will go (touching the back of the Besafe seat as per fitting instructions)
First up was the outgoing model BMW X5 (the new one is bigger inside and is fine). With the seat fitted, passenger leg room was just about tolerable for me (6ft).
BMW X5 (08 plate)


The NEW one, I hasten to add, is perfectly big enough.


Moving on to the Land Rover Discovery, I was shocked to discover that it was awful for space. My knees were jammed up against the dash so I had to sit sideways. This is neither safe nor comfortable.


The Audi Q7 is gargantuan and sure enough leg room was ok.


Finally, I tried the ultimate family 4×4, the Volvo XC90. It fits! Well, it is Swedish, where they use these seats all the time, and Volvo asked women to help design the car.


We are going to buy a used XC90 until such time as the new X5 comes down in price in a year or so, unless the as-yet unreleased new XC90 is a blinder. We shall see!
Although the Q7 is also a contender, it’s just too huge for my liking.

So be warned: Don’t assume your i-size or ERF seat will allow passenger leg room! Especially if either of you are anywhere near 6ft…
Try different makes of seat and consider that you might need to change your car. MPVs will have the most room….

Helpful links: (has a useful list of seat sizes)


  1. rachel says:

    I always get but the cat seat won’t fit in my car or my car’s only 3 doors, well go swap your car for another one with 5 doors I think your kids safety is more important than the inconvenience of you having to change your car x

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