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Revealed: the real cost of adding options to your car

Parking sensors, DAB, and sat nav are among the most wanted options on new cars

According to our research, it costs an average of £3,300 to add the most popular options to the most-sold cars in the UK.

In a recent survey, we found the most desirable options people want on their next new car are parking sensors, automatic air conditioning, DAB radio, sat nav and cruise control.

But how much do you need to pay to add this useful tech? To find out, we took the five most-sold cars in the UK and delved through the glossy brochures with calculator in hand. You can use the results of our research to make sure you don’t overpay for the options you want.

Which? car reviews are unique and use in-depth lab tests to reveal just how usable, practical, safe and economical a car really is.

Ford Fiesta (2017-)

  • Sold so far in 2017: 75,814
  • Cheapest Fiesta: £12,715
  • Cheapest Fiesta with options added: £16,345 (Titanium spec, plus parking sensors at £200)
  • Cheapest Fiesta with all features as standard: £19,345 (Vignale)
  • Minimum extra to pay: £3,630

Simply put, the Fiesta is incredibly popular. The most-sold car in the UK for years, a new version of the Fiesta came out in the middle of 2017 (see our first impressions Ford Fiesta 2017 video review).

We know from previous research that people in the small car market prize value for money especially highly, so prices need to be competitive.

And naturally we don’t expect small cars to come laden with tech, but those wanting to add the top five options to their car would have to opt for the high level Titanium trim level as a minimum, as the low- and mid-level trims (Style and Zetec) cannot be outfitted with automatic air-con.

The Titanium spec starts at £16,145 and has all desired options as standard except parking sensors, which costs £200.

If you can live with manual air conditioning instead of automatic air conditioning, you could spend £12,715 on the basic Style trim, and pay £1,550 to add parking sensors, DAB, sat nav and cruise control.

Ford Fiesta (2017-) first look review.

Ford Focus (2011-)

  • Sold so far in 2017: 57,526
  • Cheapest Focus: £19,635
  • Cheapest Focus with all features as standard: £19,635
  • Minimum extra to pay: £0

The Focus is the Fiesta’s bigger brother, competing in the densely packed medium car market alongside cars such as the Golf, which also features in this list.

Those opting for the Zetec trim, which is one above the entry-level model, would pay £19,635. And happily, it has all the five most popular options already included, so no need to start weighing up options.

But what is most strange about the Focus is that the entry-level Style trim is actually slightly more expensive than the Zetec version. The Style is only available with a diesel engine and six-speed manual gearbox, and costs £19,695. Then you’d have to add parking sensors for £225 and sat nav for £500, for a total of £20,420.

Or you could opt for the petrol, five-speed manual Zetec trim, and pay just £19,635.

Ford Focus (2011-) review

Volkswagen Golf (2013-)

  • Sold so far in 2017: 57,018
  • Cheapest Golf: £17,765
  • Cheapest Golf with options added: £20,020 (SE Nav spec, plus auto-air con at £415)
  • Cheapest Golf with all features as standard: £27,625 (GTD)
  • Minimum extra to pay: £2,255

The Golf is just as popular as the Focus, with only a difference of 500 sales between the new cars.

Though those looking to get the best deal will notice the Focus just edges the Golf in terms of the cost of the cheapest car with the most desired options.

The entry-level S version of the Golf costs £17,765, but you don’t have the option to add automatic air conditioning. The next version up, the SE, can’t have sat nav added to it.

However, the SE-Nav has everything as standard except automatic air-con, which can be added for £415, making it (slightly) more expensive than the competing Focus, in this regard.

Volkswagen Golf (2013-) review

Nissan Qashqai (2014-)

  • Sold so far in 2017: 53,197
  • Cheapest Qashqai: £19,295
  • Cheapest Qashqai with options added: £23,070 (Acenta trim with parking sensors at £595 (part of the Smart Pack) and sat nav at £795 (part of the Tech Pack)).
  • Cheapest Qashqai with all features as standard: £23,805 (N-Connecta)
  • Minimum extra to pay: £3,775

The Qashqai has not only led the crossover revolution, but overtook the Fiesta in the last monthly sales data – it will be interesting to see if the Fiesta can be knocked off the top spot in the next year or so.

The price tag just under £20,000 for a decent sized crossover may look tempting, but you can’t add automatic air-con and sat nav to the entry level version (Visia) of the car.

Instead you can either go one trim up to the Acenta, and if you add the Smart Pack for £595, and the Tech Pack for £795, you’ll have all the five most popular options, plus a number of extras, for a total of £23,070.

Alternatively, you could go one level up again for the N-Connecta trim, which has it all as standard, isn’t too much more at £23,805, and has other interesting flashy features such as a 360-degree colour camera. When manoeuvering, this will generate a 360 view of your car (making it look like you’ve got your own personal satellite) and can really help when trying to squeeze into a tight space.

Nissan Qashqai (2014-) review

Vauxhall Corsa (2014-)

  • Sold so far in 2017: 46,600
  • Cheapest Corsa: £10,635
  • Cheapest Corsa with options added: £14,395 (SRi trim with parking sensors at £300, automatic air-con at £415 and sat nav at £650)
  • Cheapest Corsa with all features as standard: N/a
  • Minimum extra to pay: £3,760

The Corsa is the car with the lowest entry-level price in this list, and competes directly with the super-popular Ford Fiesta.

There’s an incredible 10 trim levels to choose from, so the brochure can certainly make for confusing reading. But in a nutshell, the entry-level Sting and Sting-R trims are out as you cannot add air-con, DAB or sat nav to these versions of the car.

The trim level you can add them to is SRi; this has a basic cost of £13,030, but you’ll have to add parking sensors, automatic air-con and sat nav at a cost of £1,365, for a total of £14,395.

That’s a reasonably big price difference compared to the sparsely equipped the entry-level version, but it’s still £2,000 cheaper than the competing Fiesta with the most popular options added, and the cheapest car in this top five.

Unlike the other cars in this list, the top Elite trim still doesn’t come with everything as standard.

Vauxhall Corsa (2014-) review

Worth doing your homework

Pouring through the brochure and making sense of the trim levels, options and option packs can certainly take a lot of time – but it’s worth it.

We’ve shown that on all these cars above, with the exception of the Focus, that it is cheaper to buy a lower-trim version of the car and add the extras you want as opposed to buying the version of the car that takes it all as standard – and these options may make great bargaining chips when you’re negotiating the price with the dealer.

So to ensure you get the best deal, make sure you do your homework before heading to the dealership.

Sales data from the SMMT (Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders), all price data correct as of 20 October 2017 and subject to change. Car-options survey conducted during September 2017, with feedback from 1,344 respondents. Average figure excludes Ford Focus.

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