Car configurator overkill: how not to spec your new car

We have fun with online car configurators, including those of Audi, BMW, Nissan and more, to see just how expensive certain models can get

Choosing the specification of a modern car is a potentially baffling process that’s been made a lot simpler by the advent of online car configurators. These invaluable tools can also be great fun, if you feel like really cutting loose and configuring a fully-loaded car with a wallet-crushing price tag.

Here we’ve done exactly that for some of the UK’s most popular cars and revealed just how expensive these models can get if you throw caution to the wind with the options list in hand. It’s sobering stuff that really highlights what a few choice car options can soon do to inflate that tempting list price out of all recognition.

Best new cars 2016

This is, of course, just a bit of fun; paying £38,000 for a MINI Clubman or £53,000 for a Volkswagen Passat Estate is a silly move if you have any regard for your car’s future depreciation figure. The trick is always to hit the specification sweet spot by creating the car that’s going to give you the most pleasure, practicality and value within the confines of your budget.

Despite certain manufacturers having more extensive (and expensive) options lists than others, we tried our best to pick a range of brands, just to show what is possible with a completely devil-may-care approach to options list box ticking. These are not, repeat not, our recommendations for the car specs you should ask your dealer for - although his eyes would definitely light up at the prospect if you did.

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We made a special effort to feature models from most classes of car – from the supermini to the crossover SUV and the sports car. You’ll find them ranked by price in ascending order by clicking the links below or at the top left of the page. Plus, to see where all of the extra costs come from, we’ve given the prices of some noteworthy options on each car.

The downside: how speccing up can drive used values down

Of course, while creating massively personalised cars like we have is great fun, do it in reality and you run the risk of losing a lot of money at resale.

Rupert Pontin, head of valuations at Glass’s Guide, told us: “It’s better to go for a higher spec car, rather than adding options to a basic one.

“Once a car is three years old, a £2,000 option might only be worth between £250 and £300 extra on the used market.”

Philip Nothard, retail and consumer specialist at cap hpi agrees: “From a financial point of view, many options don’t make sense, as the value of them would be lost over a typical 36 month/60,000-mile ownership period.

“The trick is to differentiate between the ‘must have’ options and the ‘nice to have.’”

Steering clear of extrovert colours, like on our Porsche 911 Carrera S, is also a wise idea. Explained Rupert: “From a return point of view, you’re creating a car that’s tailored only to you. You could find the price people are  prepared to pay is a lot less than you think.”

Philip concurs, adding that “a premium used car without the right, if any, additional options could significantly reduce not only its sale value but its audience.”

With manufacturers increasingly encouraging customers to personalise their cars, it’s important to keep these points in mind. Residual values are crucial to the total cost of owning a car and showing some restraint when presented with that options list is always advisable.

Our crazy car configurator builds:

£29k Nissan Juke£38k MINI Clubman£39k Vauxhall Cascada£42k BMW 3 Series 3cyl£47k Volvo V40 Cross Country£53k Volkswagen Passat Estate£54k Mercedes-AMG A 45£71k Range Rover Evoque£100k Audi Q7£130k Porsche 911 Carrera S

Can you do better than us? Have you made any ludicrous car configurator builds in your time? Let us know in the comments below or share them with us on Facebook and Twitter!

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