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.
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.
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!
- 1Introduction - currently readingWe have fun with online car configurators, including those of Audi, BMW, Nissan and more, to see just how expensive certain models can get
- 2£29k Nissan JukeNissan’s Juke crossover can usually be seen as good value.
- 3£38k MINI ClubmanThe funky MINI Clubman is an acquired taste due to its estate-like shape and six-door layout.
- 4£39k Vauxhall CascadaVauxhall is usually known as a value brand but things can get costly quickly when you add a lot of trimmings to the Vauxhall Cascada convertible.
- 5£42k 3cyl BMW 3 SeriesThis one is a little different to the rest of the cars on this list.
- 6£47k Volvo V40 Cross CountryIf you’ve got £47,000 hanging around in your back pocket you could go all out on the jacked-up version of Volvo’s premium hatch.
- 7£53k Volkswagen Passat EstateAlong with quite possibly the longest car name on sale right now, you could easily push a Volkswagen Passat Estate upwards of £50,000.
- 8£54k Mercedes-AMG A 45It’s already an expensive car as it is, coming in at a smidge under £40,000, but adding a wealth of driver aids, performance packs and a rather tasty looking grey paint finish means that you can have a hot hatch that will drain your wallet faster than the A 45’s 4.2-second 0-62mph time
- 9£71k RR Evoque
- 10£100k Audi Q7 If you go mad with the price list of the new Audi Q7, it could land you with a bill of more than £100,000.
- 11£130k Porsche 911 Carrera SSimilar to the BMW, we didn’t go all out on the range-topper with the 911 – instead we chose the sweet spot in the range.