Fans of RECARO child seats have long-awaited a rear facing only car seat to join their Performance line up of convertible, combination, and booster seats. Wait no longer, because the Performance Coupe is here.
CSFTL Quick Stats:
Weight range: 4-35 lbs
Height range: up to 32″
Shell height: 21″
Lowest harness position: 6.5″
Expiration: 6 years
Handle position: Rebound position required in vehicle
2 Position adjustable crotch strap: 3″, 5.5″
Adjustable recline foot with Quick Flip
Euro belt routing
No re-thread harness with five harness positions
Push button lower anchor connectors
Safety Stripe System
With the Base
The Performance Coupe base allows for installation using either lower anchors or seat belt. The lower anchor connectors are premium, push-button style with a single tail to pull the strap tight. There is a tidy little storage slot for the connectors when they are not in use. Unlike many premium rear facing only seats, the Performance Coupe does not have a seat belt lockoff. This is a disadvantage for many families who may want to install their newborn’s seat in the middle of their vehicle, where many vehicles do not have lower anchors.
The Performance Coupe base is not a small one – measuring at 20.5″ long. This may cause the seat to be incompatible in vehicles with shallow vehicle seats if too much of the base hangs over the edge. The manual doesn’t specifically address overhang, but upon my inquiry, RECARO has stated to follow the industry standard of no more than 20% of the car seat base overhanging the vehicle seat.
The recline indicator is a bubble that must fall in between two black lines for a successful installation. The Performance Coupe has a vast array of recline adjustments, making it a snap to achieve the correct recline in just about any vehicle. There is a knob on top of the base, referred to as the “micro adjuster knob” which extends and retracts the foot with a twist of the knob. If that isn’t enough, the quick flip foot extends the recline foot even further.
Without the Base
The Performance Coupe can be installed without the base, and offers two methods for installation: standard belt routing and European belt routing. The manual recommends using the European belt routing if possible, however I found two things difficult. First, the carrier is large and my seat belt was only just barely long enough to successfully route the shoulder belt around the carrier, a problem I have not experienced with other Euro-routed seats installed in this vehicle. Second, the shoulder belt has to be routed underneath the release handle to unlock the carrier from the base. In order to do this, one must route the seat belt around the head of the car seat, lift up that release handle in order to slide the shoulder belt underneath it, all while using every inch of seat belt available and trying to keep the seat at the correct angle. It was cumbersome to say the least, and I could’ve used another set of hands.
Using the Carrier
The Performance Coupe has four handle positions and requires that the forward rebound position be used at all times during travel. The carrier snaps easily into the base, and removes by pulling a handle at the head of the seat.
The no re-thread harness has five positions which adjust using a squeeze-handle on the back of the seat. The crotch buckle has two positions that can be adjusted by threading the retainer through the slot on the bottom of the carrier. The manual does not state a specification on when to change the buckle position.
The carrier does sit a little ways back in the base, which is great for leg room for an older infant, but contributes to the large amount of front to back space that is required to use this seat correctly.
Fit to Child
The Performance Coupe states it can be used from 4-35 lbs, up to 32″ as long as the straps are at or below the child’s shoulders and the child has at least 1″ of shell above their head. There are two newborn inserts: a body insert and a head insert. The manual says they can be used from 4-12 lbs and can be removed earlier if desired, as long as the child fits correctly.
With a substantial newborn body insert and bottom harness slots measuring a respectable 6.5″ with that insert, I had high hopes for the Huggable Images Preemie doll to fit in the Performance Coupe. The 17″, 4 lb doll, sadly, did not fit properly. The straps were right at her shoulders, but the harness left far too much slack around her small body.
The Huggable Images Newborn doll fit perfectly in the Performance Coupe. He measures 17″, 7 lbs and had a nice, snug fit using both newborn inserts, the lowest harness position and inner buckle slot with the straps snug enough to pass the pinch test.
Grace is near the upper limits of the Performance Coupe. She is 21 months old, weighs 22 lbs and is 31″ tall. she is well under the weight limit, but just slightly under the 32″ height limit. She fit with just over 1″ from her head to the top of the shell, but her shoulders were very cramped in the seat. Grace is small for her age, but I appreciated that the Performance Coupe offers a long life span for those who prefer the convenience of an infant seat for as long as possible.
The Performance Coupe carries over the Safety Stripe and Hero harness system from the rest of its Performance line. The Safety Stripe system features stitching on the side of the harness straps to make it easily visible for the caregiver if the straps have become twisted. The Hero harness pads are somewhat fixed into the back of the seat and also help keep the straps free of twists while providing comfort around the child’s neck. One downfall I noticed with the Hero straps is that with an older child, they sit so far back in the seat that they don’t really protect the child’s neck from the edges of the straps, which may not be comfortable. It was also a little difficult to make sure the Hero pad stayed in the proper position when moving between harness positions.
The main cover can be easily removed without un-threading any of the harness, but must be hand washed if soiled. The harness must be un-threaded to remove the Hero harness cover portion. Under the cover, the Performance Coupe is fully lined with EPS foam. around the head and torso area and features memory foam in the seating area. It comes in several bright colors and neutral options as well.
The Performance Coupe has a suggested retail price of $269.99, placing it in line with other premium rear facing only car seats. It packs a lot of features, but a few disappointments as well with its lack of a seat belt lockoff and not providing a secure fit for a premature child. The large footprint of the seat also may not fit in many small vehicles correctly. The wide variety of recline adjustments and clear labeling on the base made for an easy installation, and the generous weight and height capacity make it a long-lasting option. If the Performance Coupe might be right for your Little, you can find it on Amazon.com.
No compensation was provided for this review, opinions, as always, are all our own!
Originally written by Emma Douglas. Edits maintained by CSFTL.