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Driver dilemma

From air-con to massage seats: Which optional extras on a car are worth paying for?

Not all options are a wise investment.

THE TRIM LEVEL (or grade as it is sometimes called) is the specification of a car. Cars are usually offered in different versions and each version has different features and equipment. As you move from one up to the next the features and equipment levels increase, but so does the price.

For example, the Skoda Octavia is offered in four trim levels; Active (priced from €19,750), Ambition (€22,250), Style (€24,750) and L&K (€33,550).

The first trim level is sometimes referred to as the ‘base model’ or ‘entry-level’.

The Skoda Octavia Active is the base model; it includes the fewest features and has the lowest price of the three. The L&K is the most luxurious and feature-rich version.

Some entry-level models are more sparsely equipped than others. But nowadays, basic trim levels might include keyless entry, six-speaker sound systems, CD/MP3 players, USB ports and Bluetooth connectivity.

With the higher trim levels, buyers can expect items such as larger alloy wheels, leather interiors, electronic and heated seats and mirrors, a premium sound system, a larger touchscreen and better infotainment system and a rear-view camera. Often on higher trim models, there are more powerful engines offered too.

In addition to trim levels, car manufacturers may also offer options and packages to add extras on to the car. An option is one feature a buyer can add and a package is a bundle of options.

It is personal preference when it comes to trim levels and comfort and performance. However, the specification of a car can have a big impact on resale value.

If you have a base-level car and the market is saturated with the same model in a higher trim level then it can impact the trade-in price.

High spec cars are more desirable but not all options will add value to your car. Items like massage seats, illuminated door sills, refrigerated centre consoles and ventilated seats are certainly nice to have and they may help your car sell quicker – but they probably won’t help it sell for more.

Meanwhile practical items like parking sensors, reversing cameras, decent infotainment systems, leather seats and factory-fit air con and Bluetooth will usually help you car fetch more when you come to sell it. (That said, in-car tech is changing rapidly – if you hold on to your car for a really long time before selling it the cutting-edge and expensive tech may not add anything to the resale value as it could be outdated.)

When deciding on a trim level you want to make sure that the benefits of the features and equipment warrant the price increase whilst still maintaining the car’s affordability.

READ: Review – the Volkswagen T-Roc is ready to roll into the competitive compact crossover segment >

READ: How do short journeys affect diesel particulate filters? >

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