Dom Joly: Which car options are essential, and which should you avoid?

It’s not only the stupidly rich who are being targeted

Dom Joly: Which car options are essential, and which should you avoid?

YOU CAN spend almost as much on optional extras these days as you can on the car itself —  from ceramic brakes to carbon-fibre wheels costing £10,000.

Search for and buy your next car on

For its Continental GT model Bentley even has an optional paint colour it calls “liquid metal” available from just £25,000. If you go for this option, know this: God is telling you that you have too much money and you’ll be punished for it.

It’s not only the stupidly rich who are being targeted: the Vauxhall Adam can also be personalised — with a million or more combinations of options. Or so the company says.

As for me? I’d say my favourite option is not to bother with any option.

Car manufacturers now all have very sophisticated websites where you can “build your own car” by clicking and dragging various options onto your virtual model. It’s a thing they call “the car configurator”.

Of course, you aren’t actually building anything at all. Instead  you’re probably just throwing loads of  money out of the window, even before getting anywhere near a new car in a dealer’s showroom.

You see, having spent a while looking at configurators, as well as  prices on, I can tell you that not all options are worth having — not by any means.

Indeed, some options can even reduce the value of your car rather than increase it. But then again, it’s also the case that not having certain options on a modern car can make it almost impossible to sell.


Five car options you can’t afford to go without

1 Metallic paint

Non-metallic paint is a throwback to the era of the prehistoric automobile.

2 Parking sensors

Amid a host of modern gadgets, these are rare for being genuinely popular. Many people see them as an essential rather than a luxury. Their downside is that within two days you’ll lose your ability to reverse a car by yourself.

3 Sat nav

But only on larger cars and SUVs. If you’re after a Ford Fiesta-size car, don’t bother. Just use your smartphone like everyone else does.

4 Air-conditioning

Standard on most cars but not all (stand up, Dacia Sandero). But don’t worry, as we’re not due another summer for 25 years.

5 Automatic transmission

A must on cars bigger than a Mondeo.


Five car options you should avoid

1 Towbars

They scream that the car has been used for heavy towing and has enjoyed off-road “car-cations”. Also that you sport a mullet — buyers should run a mile.

2 Personal-statement colour

Pink might be your colour of choice, but unless you know you’ll be selling the car on to Jodie Marsh or Katie Price, just forget it.

3 Ride-ruining wheels

20in alloys do look great on a Bentley, but don’t look anywhere near as good on a Vauxhall Astra: on cobbles, they might actually shake you to death.

4 Flashy body kits

Does this require explanation? Nah.

5 Adaptive suspension

Expensive and doesn’t make much difference unless you’re a real geek.



Go to our guide of the best ‘63’ plate new car bargains