10 most ridiculous optional extras on a luxury car
Luxury car option lists are the ultimate proof that money and taste are often strangers to each other
Gold leaf paint: a ridiculous no-no
Bentley moves into the furniture business
Rolls Royce Starlight headlining: unfortunately that’s not an open sunroof but rather little star-like lights built into the roof lining
We’ve all splashed out just a bit too much at one time or another. Did your TV really need gesture control, and have you ever actually used it? Why have you got a 750gb hard drive when all you use your computer for is YouTube and Facebook? And did you absolutely have to have the extra large onion rings with that sandwich?
Mind you, these personal excesses pale into insignificance compared to what some people are prepared to shell out for. Buying any luxury car is in and of itself excessive (after all, you could get around just as easily and comfortably in a Ford Mondeo…) but some buyers take it just that stage extra, and the car makers and tuning companies are more than happy to indulge their expensive, profitable whims…
10. Audi Design Selection leather
Ah, Audi. The company that gave us four wheel drive performance cars and utter domination at Le Mans. The company that says you can find advancement through technology. The company that created Audi Ultra - a rigorous programme to shed the weight and fight the flab to make its cars more efficient. The company that offers you leather seats that cost as much as an entire other car.
Seriously. If you buy an Audi A8 (and, as Barry Norman never actually said, why not?) and tick the box for Design Selection package in either Balao Brown or Marble Grey, you’re going to add €19,254 to the price of your car. That’s enough to buy an entire extra Octavia or Leon. Or two Ups. All that for some leather seats (they are made of nice leather, right enough) and some extra climate control buttons.
Sublime or ridiculous? Both at the same time.
Or you could have bought: A 1.2 TSI Seat Leon S.
9. Gold leaf paint
Carlsson, in spite of the rather Swedish-sounding name, is actually a German tuning company founded in 1989 by brothers Rolf and Andreas Hartge. The firm specialises in tweaking and modifying Mercedes-Benz models and will happily bling up, to your spec, anything from an A-Class all the way to a seven-seat R-Class. They even do kits for the Vito van. For the 2014 Geneva motor show, Carlsson really decided to push the boat out and presented a modified version of the new Mercedes S-Class. Only 25 of the CS50 Versailles model will be made, and all will come with modified 700hp V8 engines. And gold, lots of gold, so much gold that Auric Goldfinger would think it was a bit over the top. This isn’t just faux-gold trimming either, this is the real, weighty metal stuff, hand-beaten and applied to the instrument panel, the door cards, the window switches, even the cupholders. There’s even gold in the paint, just in case you were worried that you weren’t quite pulling off the South American tinpot dictator look. Cost? At least €800,000 to land one in Ireland, and that’s before Revenue create a special VRT category for gold leaf…
Sublime or ridiculous? Neither; just unbearably naff.
Or you could have bought: A 5-bed mansion on two-thirds of an acre just a stone’s throw from Adare Manor.
8. The Aston Martin Cygnet
Now, this is, strictly speaking, an entire car and not an option. However the original plan was for Aston Martin to offer its smallest, most efficient car ever only to those buyers who were already signing up for a new Vanquish, DB9 or whatever. At a price of around STG£30,000, it was certainly not cheap but hey, it was an extra car with an Aston Martin badge on the bonnet so bargain, right?
Not so fast. The Cygnet was nothing more than a tiny Toyota iQ tarted up with an Aston-style grille and some nasty-looking quilted leather seats. Aston suggested that it would make the ideal in-town runabout for those Aston customers who didn’t want to risk parking dings on their precious V12 Grand Tourers. A fair point, but then a normal Toyota iQ which cost about a third as much to buy would have done the same job. The whole idea was cooked up when Aston boss Ulrich Bez bumped into Toyota boss Akio Toyoda in the back of a garage at the Nurburgring 24hrs race. Both must have been inhaling a few too many tyre fumes that day. Essentially, buyers were being asked to pay way over the odds for a tiny car whose real purpose was simply to drag down Aston’s profligate corporate Co2 emissions. It was quietly taken out back for a meeting with the vet late last year.