A couple of years ago we were able to buy a brand new car for the first time in our lives. Choosing options for it was like trying to select sweeties from a box. There’s such an array of goodies and so much to think about. Now we’ve lived with our car for a while, here is my guide to ordering new car options. In no special order:
1. Seat Fabric
Leather is as lovely to sit on as it looks, but that is the only fabric upgrade worth considering. We didn’t bother but the dealer’s fabric protection option is always worth it.
2. Metallic or special paint colours
Always more exciting in the showroom than they are for the rest of a car’s life. Do pay for the paint protection option.
Garages can add these but they should always be factory fitted to get the best quality. We used to have one in our Seat and it was good to have an opaque cover. In the heat a sun roof just can’t compete with air conditioning. When open it increases drag and fuel consumption.
I would happily use a portable one and this option is usually too expensive. Satnav often comes as standard now.
5. Parking sensors
These are a godsend in my opinion. So many modern cars have tiny back windows and then there’s the issue of low bollards which are out of sight.
6. Rear parking camera
To my surprise, this has been a huge success. It has a lovely wide-angle view.
7. Self-parking mode
Quite useful if you do a lot of parallel parking around town. I have to watch out as it prompts me to use spaces that are very small. It does NOT help you wiggle out! A lot of people who have this option can’t remember how to use it. I’m a fan.
8. Air conditioning or climate control
I do prefer climate control where you can set an internal temperature and let the car work out how to get there. However it can be a much more expensive option than air conditioning. I wouldn’t be without air conditioning at least
9. Heated seats and steering wheel
Other people love theirs, and find it really pleasant. I personally feel like a fried egg.
10. Carpets and mats
It’s so annoying when dealers charge extra for these, but you really need mats that fit well. Otherwise they could slip and interfere with your pedals.
11. Spare wheel, space saver or a can of foam
Spare wheels are forgettable until you need one, then suddenly you will think it is the best option on earth, ever. I’m actually quite happy with a space saver. It feels funny but you’ll only use it for one day. Cans of foam are a seriously awful alternative and I don’t know anyone who has had a good experience patching a tyre with foam.
12. Cruise control
I would not be without this. It makes motorway driving far less tiring and considerably safer. Once you get used to the buttons it will keep you feeling fresher and more in control of your speed. I wish more motorway drivers used it.
13. Adaptive cruise control
In our DSG auto, this has been a life-altering piece of genius and deserves a blog post all to itself. The car does much of the motorway driving by itself and all you do is steer and indicate.
14. Body Trims and Alloys
If you get a car with really good spec and a nice engine but skimp on trims, it will look odd. Equally if you add all kinds of rails and body trim to a car with the slowest available engine, you will look pretentious. Find a balance. Buy trim at – or just above – the overall spec level of the car.
15. Keyless entry
I find it hard to see what is so difficult about remote locking that someone needed to invent an improvement.
Save money by adding it later through an independent fitter. There’s no loss in quality by doing this.
17. Dog guard
I don’t have any experience with this but I do know there is nothing worse than something rattling in the boot because it doesn’t fit properly. I would consider buying this from the dealer.
18. 12 Volt sockets
We have an extra one in the car boot and it’s great for road trips and camping with an electric cool box.
19. Music system
This is very much personal choice and I hesitate to offer advice. Our car has an SD slot for music, all controlled through the main display. We also have one CD slot which is less useful.
Some of these car options will not be available or may come standard on the model you pick. Are you wondering about choosing car options on your next vehicle? Research your selection on cars.com or leave your questions in the comments below.
Part ex or private sale? Find tips in How I Sold My Old Car.
Take your comfy new car to the continent: Driving Routes from France to the UK: Your Options.