The price charged for luxury cars and their options seems exorbitant for the anyone who believes the purpose of a car is to get from point A to point B safely and in a reasonable time. For the rest of us, a car means so much more. It is a representation of who we are, our tastes and preferences. Perhaps for that reason, we are willing to pay a bit more for options that make our cars stand out and meet our personal standards.
Many buyers believe that luxury cars cost more than regular cars because of their high-quality parts, superior performance, better options, and more expensive materials.
A natural leather seat cover, for example, does cost more than one made from cloth or vinyl, but the cost difference is not extraordinary. The same applies to luxury features like heated seats and steering wheels, all glass roofs, and more.
The costs of luxury options are typically incremental and have little to do with the price car dealers can charge for them. In the words of industry expert and consultant Jim Hall (of 2953 Analytics), "Automakers profit hugely [from luxury packages] ...the incremental cost of adding the new materials and features is way short of what they can charge [for the upgrades]."
Here are some examples of luxury car options. Are they worth the price? You be the judge!
20 Porsche Panamera Leather Sun Visors: $740
There is nothing like the subtle, smooth, pliant feel and pleasant aroma of genuine leather. Whether it’s a fashionable bomber jacket, a plush leather recliner, or the interior of a luxury car, leather reeks of “money.”
“It’s an assumed indication of wealth and status,” said Adam Garel-Frantzen of Chicago. “Leather cushions make you feel good, and the car look good.”
The demand for leather interiors, partial or complete, has increased in the past few years, prompting new car manufacturers to offer leather interior as an option even on mid-range cars.
Kevin Tynan, an analyst for Bloomberg, says: “You’re seeing luxury content moving down further into lower-priced vehicles…”
In contrast to leather jackets or luggage, the leather installed in car interiors must be sufficiently durable to resist years of abuse in the form of dust, spilled drinks and people. Mercedes even tests their leather upholstery by installing it in the back of German taxis.
The quality of car interior leather is so vital, car manufacturers even look at the source (while still alive), preferring the hides of cows that live in colder climates. Their skin is thicker, and they tend to have fewer biting pests that leave blemishes on the finished product.
But $740 for leather sun visors? Porsche, the makers of the Panamera, think they are worth it and so do many of the car’s buyers.
19 Maserati Quattroporte WiFi Hotspot: $1,030
“Millennials, and the generations that follow are shaping technology. This generation has grown up with computing in the palm of their hands. They are more socially and globally connected through mobile Internet devices than any prior generation…” Brad D. Smith
We are living in an age where connectivity is king, with WI-FI offered in nearly every office, coffee shop, restaurant, hotel and via cell phone service providers. However, until recently the open road has been one location where the online generation failed to connect.
More than 20 vehicle manufacturers now offer built-in Wi-Fi as an option on their 2018 models. The option turns a vehicle into a Wi-Fi mobile hotspot using fast 4G LTE systems for wirelessly connecting multiple devices.
Tethering a cell phone to set up a hotspot is no longer required. In these vehicles, a laptop or tablet, can remotely connect to office networks, play movies or access any Internet website while the car is rolling down the road.
On the Maserati Quattroporte, the WiFi Hotspot option is $1,030. While the price may seem exaggerated, it is in line with the cost of other luxury upgrades offered by Maserati. What’s more, the driver and passengers can stay connected while accelerating from 0-60 mph in just under 4.5 seconds, on the way to a top speed of more than 180 mph!
18 Mercedes-Maybach Rear Seat: $1,950
The Maybach is distinguished from most other luxury cars by its extended length. Nearly 18 feet long with a wheelbase of 11 feet, it exceeds the length of the traditional S-class sedans by almost ten inches.
While the vehicle’s length and bold grill with vertical lines give the car its distinctive look, the interior features make the car exclusive. The added length of the car benefits rear-seat passengers most with 6 inches more legroom than the S-class sedan.
Priced at $198,700, the most opulent version of Mercedes-Benz’s flagship S-Class sedan, the Maybach offers an incomparable, sumptuous rear compartment. Back seat passengers enjoy the extravagant comfort provided by power-adjustable seats and leg rests with cooling and heating functions, and a massage feature.
For those who seek more individual comfort and control, the bench seat can be replaced with two individual seats, folding tray tables, and a full-height center console for a mere $1950.
Rear seat occupants may want to celebrate a recent successful business venture or perhaps a personal best golf score. For such occasions, Mercedes offers a refrigerated box in the rear for an additional $1,100 to keep the drinks cool. But the real enjoyment comes from sipping the bubbly in silversmiths Robbe & Berking handcrafted silver champagne flutes that will set customers back $3,200.
17 Tesla Model S Third-Row Seat: $3,000
In the first quarter of 2018, sales of the Tesla Model S in the U.S. beat all other brands in the large luxury car category. Out of 10 car models, the Model S achieved a notable 34% of sales. The Mercedes S-Class was second with 23% of sales.
Tesla’s success may be attributed to several factors including gorgeous design, superior performance, advanced tech, smooth electric driving experience, superb safety, and zero emissions. The car also seats seven passengers counting the optional third-row seats that face backward under the car's giant hatchback and cost an additional $1,500 each.
While $3,000 seems a bit steep for two seats suitable only for small children, they include instructions for proper cooling from the CEO himself, Elon Musk.
Matthew Feinman wrote, “Put the kids in the rear of my in-laws' Tesla S & went for a 20 min drive. Air was set as cold as possible, but the kids were dehydrated & drenched in sweat after the drive. Turns out there's no air circulation back there. Any ideas? Love the car, but that's dangerous.
Elon Musk responded, “If there is anyone in the third row, turn off air recirculation. Third-row cooling happens by air entering from the front and exiting through the vents in the rear bumper.”
If you want answers, go right to the top guy!
16 Audi Bang & Olufsen Speakers: $6,300
Sounds (no pun intended) outrageous: $6,300 for music in a car? Specialists from Bang & Olufsen and engineers at Audi have made a significant investment of time and money to develop a genuine 3D sound system that creates an orchestra hall feeling in the back seat of a full-size sedan.
The challenge, Audi’s experts explain, is that unlike a studio or concert hall, a car is one of the most difficult environments for designing a quality audio setup.
Thomas Ott, an acoustics expert at Audi, says, “It’s difficult in every way…the room, the reflections, the glass. It’s another planet, you know. And that’s interesting…you can’t use the same system in every car [model].”
In the 2018 Audi A8, the optional 3D Advanced Sound System includes 1920W of power, 23 channels of amplification, 23 speakers, and a new arrangement of speakers.
The speakers are precisely positioned only after scrupulous testing and attention to temperature requirements. Woofers are individually boxed for minimum noise leakage and housed in all four doors. A huge sub-woofer resides in the rear deck shelf. They appear in the car’s A-pillars, and there are even several speakers built directly in the ceiling, for mid-to-high frequency audio from above.
Whether your preference is Beethoven’s Symphony No. 5 or the Eagles’ Hotel California, the Audi sound system may be worth the additional expense.
15 Chevrolet Camaro 21-Inch 2SS Wheels: $6,480
Larger rims and tires can make any vehicle look better, even a nondistinctive sedan, but they are essential for a high-performance car.
Upgrading the size, whether from the factory or the aftermarket, requires consideration of the stock aspect ratio. The overall diameter of the original wheels and tires which must be maintained is typically achieved with thinner tires. The bigger the rim, the smaller the tire must be to maintain the original diameter.
Other than the improvement in appearance, plus sizing wheels and tires offer other benefits. Handling, cornering, and braking are improved with the wide tire stance. High-performance tires feature wider tread designs and stiffer sidewalls that enhance traction. Larger diameter rims and smaller tires can be more fuel efficient.
However, riding comfort is inversely proportional to wheel size. The larger rims with thinner tires provide less cushioning to absorb road impact, resulting in a bumpier ride. Thinner tires cost more initially and wear out more quickly.
Tires and rims are essential to every vehicle’s exterior theme, an eye-catching feature that can set the mood or destroy the flow of the car with just a glance. To achieve that exceptional look on the Chevrolet Camaro is simply a matter of upgrading to the factory 21-Inch 2SS wheels at a cost of $6,480.
14 The Rolls-Royce flying lady, the Spirit of Ecstasy: $10,075
Adorning the hood of every Rolls-Royce since 1920, the ornament Flying Lady is the most exclusive and expensive hood decoration in automobile history.
The figure was modeled after Eleanor Thornton who had a decade-long secret affair with Lord John Montagu of Beaulieu. A passionate motoring enthusiast, the wealthy Montagu fell in love with Eleanor in 1902 while she worked for him on his magazine, The Car Illustrated. He wanted an attractive hood ornament for his car, so he commissioned a sculptor to put Eleanor on the front of his Rolls. In some of the earlier versions, the statue shows her with a finger to her lips as a nod to their secret love.
Normally made from polished stainless steel, the exclusive and expensive hood ornament can be ordered in frosted crystal or 24-carat gold plating at a cost of $10,075. Rolls-Royce designed it to guarantee that none of its owners will have to face the threat of driving without the Spirit of Ecstasy in plain view.
The iconic hood ornament is mounted on a spring-loaded mechanism which automatically detracts the 3-inch tall statue of Eleanor into the radiator shell if touched from any direction, making theft nearly impossible. Rolls-Royce drivers can also raise and lower it from inside the cabin, ensuring that no Flying Lady ends up in the wrong hands.
13 Rolls-Royce Starlight Headliner: $12,925
“For my part, I know nothing with any certainty, but the sight of the stars makes me dream.” Vincent Van Gogh
In many ways, Rolls-Royce owners are just like everyone else. Occasionally, on a warm summer evening, they enjoy sitting outside on the veranda gazing upward to admire the abundance of stars and constellations that illuminate the sky.
However, Roll-Royce owners have something none of the rest of us have. Should the evening sky be cloudy, the city lights so bright they wash out the view, or the outside temperature a bit too cool for comfort, they can go for a drive and create their own “starry night” with the Starlight Headliner.
A series of fiber-optic lights mounted inside the ceiling of the car, the headliner transforms the roof of the Rolls into the illusion of a star-filled night sky
The unique effect is accomplished by fitting the strands at different angles and varying depths. The light shines in multiple directions and at diverse intensities. The brightness of each “star” can be adjusted to suit the viewer’s pleasure: bright enough to relax and read, or dim enough to create a relaxing, romantic atmosphere.
For a mere $12,925 Rolls-Royce owners can slide onto a hand-crafted leather seat and gaze up at a headliner that seems to twinkle like a starlit sky, even when it rains!
12 Ferrari 812 Superfast Golf Bags and Luggage: $10,439
The Ferrari 812 Superfast boasts a front-mid mounted 6.5-liter V12 that generates 789 hp and 529 lb-ft of torque, a 7-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox, and four-wheel steering. It features electrically assisted power steering integrated into the chassis and electronic systems to ensure unique handling dynamics. Safety is enhanced with traction control and ABS along with Ferrari’s stability control system.
Although all wheels are steered, only the rear wheels drive the Superfast from 0-60 mph in just 2.8 seconds and through 124mph in 7.9 seconds on its way to a top speed of 211mph.
The interior is made with the highest quality material, and the leather bucket seats are lush and supple, suitable for a comfortable cross-country trip. The Ferrari 812 Superfast has an MSRP of $350,000, but most buyers spend much more with selected upgrades.
One of the options essential for the traveling golfer is the Ferrari golf bag and accompanying luggage specially designed to make the most of the available storage space. The personalized luggage articles are custom made to match the type and color of the interior leather. The stitching can even be coordinated with the interior upholstery.
The golf bag and trunk luggage add $10,439 and $13,651 respectively.
11 Lamborghini Warranty Extension 4th year: $11,600
Car buyers who spend on average more than $30,000 on their new vehicle expect trouble free operation during the factory warranty period. To extend the life of their significant investment, many consider purchasing an extended warranty.
With the inclusion of technology, cars have become more complicated in recent years and as a result, more expensive to repair. Minor issues can become enormous fixes with extravagant costs.
However, most car buyers who purchase a new car extended warranty never use it. According to a Consumer Reports survey of more than 12,000 subscribers who purchased an extended warranty, nearly 55 percent of owners did not use it for repairs during the lifetime of the policy. The remaining warranty holders spent hundreds more for the coverage than they saved in repair costs even though the average price paid for the coverage was just over $1,200.
The Consumer Reports study also showed low customer satisfaction with automobile extended warranties, and only a quarter of respondents said they would purchase it again.
The factory warranty on a new Lamborghini is three years, unlimited miles, and includes basic coverage, drivetrain, and corrosion. The extended warranty costs are $11,600 and $22,200 for the fourth and fifth years respectively. While these add-on costs seem outrageous, they may be a bargain for a vehicle with a price tag starting at $402,995.
10 Infiniti QX80 Blind Spot Warning System: $12,750
Infiniti’s Blind Spot Intervention System is technology that alerts the driver to vehicles that have entered the blind spot area. The innovative system uses radar to monitor both sides of the vehicle notifying the driver with an indicator light if a vehicle is detected in the blind spot area. If the turn signal is engaged, the indicator light flashes and an audible warning sounds.
If a vehicle occupies the blind spot area, Infiniti’s Blind Spot Intervention system will detect an attempted lane change and apply brakes to steer the car away from a potential collision. However, blind spot monitoring systems are not flawless.
Megan McKernan, engineering manager of the Automobile Club of Southern California, warns, “Some blind-spot monitoring systems we tested had a short detection range, which meant that a vehicle was already in the blind spot before the alert came on…the lane-departure warning system on several vehicles experienced false-positive and miss-detections, which resulted in an inconsistent driver warning.”
AAA also found that blind-spot monitoring systems have difficulty detecting fast-approaching vehicles in an adjacent lane. Additional tests determined that blind-spot monitors were less sensitive to motorcycles tripping an alert 26 percent later than passenger vehicles.
While the blind spot warning system is an excellent concept, the price of $12,750 seems excessive for a system that can’t guarantee at least 95% reliability.
9 Rolls Royce Phantom Drinks Cabinet: $19,450
The new Rolls-Royce Phantom offers numerous options to make traveling much more enjoyable in the base model, $400,00 car. While some of these extras may seem marginally useful, one item is essential: the $19,450 rear seat drinks cabinet.
With the drinks cabinet option no longer will the chauffeur need to search for the nearest MacDonald’s drive-through when passenger thirst strikes (even with a GPS this can take some time). No more waiting in line or trying to decipher the words spoken by the attendant on the other end of a worn-out drive-through speaker less audible than an airport PA system announcing the last boarding call.
No more searching for change to pay at the pick-up window and no more paper cups and straws occupying the cup holders and littering the floor.
In the Phantom, the drinks cabinet looks like a miniature bar. The center console is easily accessible to rear seat passengers and includes whiskey glasses and decanter, champagne flutes, and cool box. However, it does require stocking with drinks before departure. Tack on another $14,000, and the rear seat passengers can enjoy their libations in comfort with rear “theater” seats that give them additional room to stretch out. The chauffeur will appreciate it!
8 Bentley Continental Liquid Metal Paint: $31,175
One of the most important decisions a new car buyer must make is the choice of color. The options are endless. However, it is not only the shade itself but the abundance of paint finishes that are bewildering.
Paint finish options fall into several categories: basic solid paints, usually included in the original vehicle purchase price, matte satin paints, metallic paints, pearlescent paints and special paints.
While the Bentley Continental GT offers several expensive paint jobs, liquid metal paint is in high demand. The exclusive paint can be applied for an additional $31,175; expensive but not nearly as extreme as the $63,000 liquid metal paint job on the Porsche 918 Spyder.
BMW also offers exclusive paint jobs and claims the high price is partly due to the pains-taking application process and partly due to the expensive paint material used to prepare the color, often costing 40 times regular coats.
BMW’s Pure Metal Silver color has a chrome-like finish and extraordinary brilliance. The paint comprises thousands of ultra-thin aluminum flakes giving it a uniform and luminous surface.
Owners of other exotic cars also choose the higher priced finishes. An owner of a McLaren who opted for special paint at a cost of $60,000 says when viewed from different angles the car changes color, making it a rolling chameleon.
7 Rolls Royce Phantom Divided Rear Seats: $34,400
The 2018 Rolls-Royce Phantom VIII seems to evolve naturally from the familiar dominant stance and comfort found in the Phantom VII but with a few smoother edges and curves to distinguish it from its predecessor.
The interior is spacious, and the Phantom rear-hinged rear doors open wide making it easy to get in and out, a critical feature for elegantly dressed passengers arriving at the opera or a Michelin rated 3-star restaurant.
Inside two adult passengers have an enormous amount of space to stretch out. The lounge bench accommodates three, but Roll-Royce offers divided individual rear seats suitable for two at the bargain price of $34,400. For those who need even more room (perhaps professional basketball players), the long-wheelbase “EWB” version of the Phantom is the solution.
The individual seat configuration is also available with a fixed center console and the newly introduced sleeping seat for the long trips to the grocery store. The console can be enhanced by integrating a drinks cabinet with champagne flutes, whiskey glasses and decanter, and cool box.
Rear seat occupants can relax in their individual spaces, sip their favorite beverage and enjoy the new “Gallery” feature, which permits viewing the owner’s personal choice of art.
6 Ferrari Forged Diamond Wheels: $47,440
The sleek aerodynamic characteristics, subtle natural curves, and stylish lines of an exotic sports car often arouse the senses and evoke feelings of admiration and envy. However, another feature also contributes significantly to making an impression: the wheels.
Forging and casting are the two common methods for making wheels. A forged wheel is created when extremely high pressure is applied to a solid billet of aluminum forcing it between dies. This produces a dense, strong, and lightweight product.
While forged wheels are common for high-performance sports cars, diamond cut forged wheels use a procedure that results in a high shine finish. A close-up inspection reveals very fine groves precisely cut into the aluminum surface much like the backside of a CD. When light reflects off these groves, it gives the alloy wheel a very shiny appearance.
Ferrari has taken this process one step further. Diamond cut alloy wheels, while very attractive, do not gleam and sparkle sufficiently for their exotic supercar, LaFerrari priced at more than $2 million. So, they offer the buyer an upgrade to diamond cut wheels finished with actual diamonds. The effect is spectacular.
Diamonds may be a girl’s best friend, and they may be forever, but for $47,440 they can also distinguish a limited production, run-of-the-mill LaFerrari from a one-of-kind supercar.
5 Maybach Granite Trim: $58,000
For the buyer of a Mercedes Maybach, an interior trim that features wood, aluminum or carbon fiber may not be sufficiently exclusive to satisfy an expensive taste. For those discerning shoppers, Mercedes Benz offers a stone trim option in its Designo customization option.
Designo stone trim is formed from granite, one of the hardest stones. Craft persons at Mercedes carefully select the best pieces, cut them into wafer-thin sheets, and finishing them according to a patented method. The granite veneer is then shaped as required for use with other interior materials. The stone veneer produces a unique sparkle that varies with changes in the light and gives the Mercedes-Benz interior a unique appeal. Although a stone interior sounds heavy, the granite layer is only 1mm thick.
It seems only right that a car with a base price of $169,595 (more than the cost of a small home, except, perhaps, in California) should be adorned with the same granite material used in gourmet kitchens across the country.
The basic granite interior trim on the Maybach adds an astonishing $58,000 to the cost of the automobile. However, there is also a pricier package for the Maybach Landaulet, and an even more expensive Luxury package available.
4 Pagani Huayra Carbon Option: $153,700
The price tag for the Pagani Huayra at $1.4 million puts it in exclusive company with other supercars like the LaFerrari Aperta and McLaren P1. Not only is the base price excessive, but its list of expensive options makes even Porsche upgrades look sensible.
The price affords buyers an AMG-sourced, twin-turbo 6.0-liter V-12 engine with 753 hp and 738 lb-ft of torque, active aerodynamics, carbon-titanium construction, and a stunning interior complete with genuine Italian leather and aluminum controls. While carbon-ceramic brakes, Bluetooth, and touchscreen navigation, are standard, the other available options require a significant investment.
Many of the more “standard” upgrade options are pricey, like the parking sensors for $2,000, backup camera at $6,700, and seven-piece luggage set for a cool $20,425. For buyers who like the interior brightwork anodized in black titanium, $10,900 is added to the bill. Nearly $8000 is required to apply the same treatment to the exterior chrome. The “Premium” leather upholstery tacks on another $10,800.
The options that impact the Pagani Huayra’s appearance are the most outrageous. A two-tone color scheme with partially exposed carbon fiber is an exorbitant $81,300; more than the cost of a Porsche Boxster. Buyers opting for the fully exposed carbon-fiber bodywork will pay $153,700 for the exotic feature.
3 Bentley Bentayga Breitling Clock, $170,000
Only four Bentayga Breitling Clocks are offered per year on the Bentley, perhaps making it the most exclusive option available on a car, but certainly the most outrageously priced. A single craftsman at Breitling makes them at a pace of one every three months.
The Mulliner Tourbillon timepiece and its 28mm case is machined from a solid billet of 18-carat gold, either rose or white. The face can be rendered in white or black ebony mother-of-pearl. Eight diamonds denote the hours with 3, 9 and 12 o'clock called out by numerals. At the 6 position, a small window reveals the tourbillon, a sophisticated mechanical device characteristic of the Swiss movements in luxury watches. The back of the case has been hollowed out providing the timepiece with backlit natural light and allowing onlookers a glimpse at the inner workings and the 22-carat gold oscillator.
An analog device, the clock must be periodically wound. Bentley devised an electric mechanism to perform the task allowing the car to be unattended for extended periods without losing time.
With a price tag of $232,000, the Bentley Bentayga is in the high-end SUV luxury class, but the Breitling Clock option at $170,000 puts it in a class by itself.
2 Bugatti Chiron Bare Carbon-Fiber: $300,000
When Bugatti introduced the new Chiron, a replacement for the wildly successful Veyron Super Sport, the company declared it, "the world’s most powerful, fastest, most luxurious, and most exclusive super sports car."
While there is significant competition in the high-performance supercar class, Bugatti had an advantage. They only had to improve on the Veyron which reigned for ten years as the fastest street-legal production car in the world. The Super Sport achieved a Guinness World Record of 257.87 mph in 2010.
Although the Veyron generated 1,184 hp with its W-16 engine, the Chiron needed an upgrade to stay ahead of the competition, so Bugatti equipped it with 8.0-liter W-16 that delivers a cool 1,479 hp and 1,180 lb-ft of torque.
Not resting on their laurels, Bugatti refined the car even further with the Chiron Sport that produces the same power as the standard Chiron but achieves more speed with weight reduction. So meticulous are engineers at Bugatti they even changed the windshield wipers to carbon-fiber as part of their weight reduction program, saving 39 total pounds. The newer Chiron Sport also has a revised suspension and torque vectoring, all for a price of $3.6 million, about $1 million more than the standard Chiron.
If the buyer of either car feels the need to deduct more weight, the bare carbon body option is available at a meager $300,000!
1 Ferrari Carbon Fiber Front End: $333,500
Enzo Ferrari said, “Race cars are neither beautiful nor ugly. They become beautiful when they win…Aerodynamics are for people who can’t build engines.”
Profound comments from a man who founded a company that produces some of the most beautiful, exotic, and powerful sports cars in the world…at a price!
While the base price for all the Ferrari models is more than the price many people pay for a home, the options can make the total cost go ballistic. Even the “entry level” Ferrari Portofino with a 591-hp twin-turbo 3.9-liter V-8 at a price of $215,000 can double depending on the options selected. The Portofino starts with some luxuries like the retractable hardtop roof, a 10.2-inch infotainment display, and rear seats too small for normal sized humans.
Perhaps the most expensive option for any Ferrari is the Carbon Fiber Front End at $333,500, but even the most insignificant upgrades don’t come cheap: Painted Brake Calipers: $1,519. Foldable Rear Seat Back Rest: $1,687. Various Front Grilles: $1,687. Fire Extinguisher: $1,097. Front-Facing Parking Camera: $6,075. Colored Rev Counter: $776. Smoking Kit: $811. Colored Floor Mats with Ferrari Logo: $1,350. Apple Carplay: $4,219. One more, the essential Carbon Fiber Cup Holder will add $2,531 to the total bill.
Sources: alux.com, driversmagazine.com, topspeed.com, motorauthority.com