Review: Cheap double buggy that fits in a hatchback

Joie Aire double buggy fits in small hatchback

Tl;dr it’s the Joie Aire double buggy.

When my oldest child was 18 months old I got pregnant again. I really wanted a close age gap but the practicalities were daunting.

Most things were going to be hand-me-downs but I didn’t know what on EARTH to do about a pushchair. I looked at several options: A buggy board, a sling, a tandem double and a one-in-front-of-the-other double.

The only type that would meet all our needs was a tandem (side-by-side) double. I really spent sleepless nights stressing about this. Because my perfect pushchair, the OutnAbout Nipper, wouldn’t fit in my VW Golf.

In fact, every single double buggy, whether side-by-side or one-baby-in-front, wouldn’t fit in my car.

I couldn’t afford a new car. I barely afforded my 2006 VW Golf Mark V 1.6 FSI petrol engine. I was in a real pickle. I spent hours trawling through website after website and going outside with a measuring tape to check if this one would fit in my boot.

I exhausted everything on Argos (UK and IE), Samuel Johnston, Pramworld, Smyths Toys, and every Mumsnet-reviewed double buggy.

Only one would fit and it was £500: The Mountain Buggy Nano Duo should fit in a VW Golf hatchback and looks great in other ways too.

I once bought a car for £250, I didn’t have £500 for a Mountain Buggy (I *wish*). It looked incredible but I couldn’t afford it. Covid, post-natal depression and emigrating to Ireland have bankrupted me and wrecked my business.

So I thought maybe I should get a universal buggy board and attach it to my Jane Trider. I really wanted that idea to work out but I had two issues with it.

First, I have long legs and I regularly kick the luggage carrier on my £20 umbrella pushchair. Adding an extra sticky-out bit between me and the wheels seemed like a recipe for perpetually-bruised shins and stubbed toes.

Second, my oldest is currently awaiting the full autism assessment but has had two preliminary assessments (the one-hour one and the two-hour one) and both have moved him further into an autism diagnosis. He has a severe speech delay and struggles to co-ordinate his movements which means he just can’t sit or stand still on a buggy board. He’s now two years and seven months, and he can’t even hold my hand consistently, yet, and often runs out into traffic, and 9 times out of 10 he doesn’t answer to his own name. A buggy board would be a cheap recipe for disaster akin to serving Kwik Save No Frills Baked Beans to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.

For the same reason, a baby carrier seemed like a beautiful idea (and we do use our soft baby wrap) but I would basically be carrying a two-year-old and a newborn most of the time since Jellyfish still needs to be picked up a lot every time he’s out of the pushchair such as at the park, out and about on the street and at soft play.

Ideally, he also needs a safe space to be able to lie down for when it all gets a bit much because he sometimes goes into sensory overload and gets very upset.

A one-in-front-of-the other pushchair wouldn’t be ideal but I was open to getting one if it was all I could fit in my car.

So I was in an impossible situation. I needed a double pushchair for my two babies, but I couldn’t find an affordable one that would fit in my car and I couldn’t afford to upgrade my car.

I’d about given up on this whole situation and was two weeks before my due date, and my husband had decided we should ask the in-laws if we could borrow the £500 Mountain Buggy as a baby gift.

I loved the pushchair but hated that idea. These were our babies and a pushchair is pretty basic, essential kit so I didn’t want to borrow money for one or be indebted to anyone for it. I wanted to be able to provide a pushchair for my babies that ticked all our boxes. It shouldn’t have been so hard to get a double buggy that didn’t require an SUV.

And I started to get annoyed because prams have been around since at least Victorian times and no one needed an SUV to ferry kids around in the 60s, 70s, 80s or 90s before SUVs were invented! It was starting to feel like a big conspiracy between pushchair designers and SUV companies. Why wasn’t there one single double buggy that fitted in a small car? AKA, a normal car, as we used to call them!

I believe my grandma used to ferry her four children around in a Morris Minor. Later, when I was little, in the 90s, she ferried me and my three cousins around in her Austin Allegro — or the Yellow Peril as we called it. There were no seatbelts, rear doors or car seats, and you just had to squish into a space. My mum used to get 4 kids in a Robin Reliant for the school run. My sister would often go entire car journeys without sitting down because she liked to see where she was going so she’d stand in the footwell and cling onto the passenger seat to balance.

My point isn’t that dangerous cars and kids are a good mix–they’re not–but that people managed multiples with normal-sized cars for a very long time.

As a last-ditch attempt to find something, on the day I was due to give birth, I decided after my hospital appointment to go into Smyths Toys in Letterkenny yet again to see if anything had changed. My husband literally joked to me that madness is doing the same thing over and over, and expecting different results.

I agreed with him but asked him to humour me just in case.

We went to the back of the store with low hopes as we’d been so many times and found nothing.

This time was different. There it sat. Our perfect pushchair. The Joie Aire Twin Buggy, resplendent in powder pink and storm blue (each seat a different colour) with a soft grey hood.

And I looked at it and thought, that might just fit. We’d already looked at the Joie Aire dimensions on Argos and I think Argos are on crack to be honest because their poor product descriptions were the cause of all this stress.

I asked the sales assistant at Smyths if we could get the folded dimensions. She did one better, and took the demo model to our car for us to check if it fitted. It does, if you turn it on its side (either side works). You also need to remove the parcel shelf. I did this myself, at nine months pregnant, to check I would be able to manage this pushchair if I was out by myself.

Reader, I bought it.

In the four months since owning it, two different blokes have helped me pack my car and got the pushchair in right-way-up but I don’t have the strength to jiggle it the way they did.

Jellyfish enjoying a scone at Costa in his pushchair

Pros of the Joie Aire Twin:

This double buggy fits in a VW Golf so should be good for other large hatchbacks if you remove the parcel shelf. Will ace an estate, SUV or Chelsea Tractor. Might even go in a motorcycle sidecar, not sure.

Lightweight

Massive shelf

One-handed pushing

Max weight 30kg

Raincover as standard

UPF-50+ hoods that adjust separately, as standard.

Full recline, suitable from birth

Fits through a standard household door and most shop doors

Wheels don’t have tyres so you will never get a puncture

Suspension is decent and it’s not as hard on your wrists or finger joints as cheap umbrella buggies.

Very nice steering and a tight turning circle.

It’s passable off-road. Ours has managed forest walks, the beach, hills and parks without major complaint.

The centre of gravity means staircases and kerbs aren’t awful if you tilt it backwards and go up/down on two wheels, although I never love taking a pushchair up or down a step.

Happy newborn in her cosy pushchair

Cons

You can’t put a car seat in the pushchair frame at all so you always have to move a sleeping baby to transfer them from pushchair to car seat or vice versa (however babies will get better sleep lying down in a pushchair anyway so it’s not much of an issue for me).

When both seats are reclined it’s really hard to get at the basket under the pushchair

People think it’s bigger than it actually is, they panic a bit and tell you that you won’t fit through their door/checkout etc. You probably will because it’s the same width as a wheelchair so if you can’t fit, neither can a standard wheelchair. The only place I ever struggle is one particular charity shop because they don’t plan their space effectively for free flow of people, they just stuff things into any available space and they assume all their customers are bipedal.

You have to put the shopping in the rear footwells behind the car seats. It can be hard if you do big monthly shops to fit everything in. I recommend getting a roof bag and fabric “roof bars” if you need a lot of storage space in your car eg when you’ve packed for a staycation.

Joie Aire double buggy fits in small hatchback
Sleeping toddler and dozing newborn side by side in their double buggy. For reference he’s 15.4kg at time of photo and in some age 3-4 clothes and fits this pushchair in his thick coat.

The bottom line

This is the best sub-£200 double buggy on the market and I 10/10 recommend it for anyone who needs an affordable double pushchair that fits in the back of a small car. Obviously all cars are different and mine isn’t the smallest one out there so do check it will fit in yours. I bought mine for €169 in November 2021. As of the time of posting it’s still fab.

The Joie Aire twin buggy isn’t available in the US but the Mountain Buggy Nano Duo is.

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