Base model cars vs Added feature cars

We all know that car is basically a luxury item, and it makes no sense on spending additional money for features that are integrated only in higher models. People get really confused while buying a car, whether to go with base model or opt for added feature models with substantial difference in price of nearly Rs 1,00,000 to Rs 1,50,000. In India automobile market is price sensitive, and so many car manufacturers produce different car models with variant features.

If you check the prices, base models are always cheaper as they come with less features like ABS & EBD, air bags, front and rear power windows, central locking, arm rest, music system and others. However, some car manufactures provide certain added features for base models as well.

For instance – If you consider Maruti Suzuki Cars, the base models are equipped with power steering and front power windows which may not be available in some other base model cars.

Feature variations that are specifically seen in Maruti Suzuki Cars are –

  • L (Base Model) – Power steering, Manual AC, Front power windows
  • V (Full Option Model) – Front and rear power windows, Central locking, Rear center arm rest, Music system and ABS
  • Z (Added Feature Model) – All features of V + dual air bags, rear defogger etc

So, now you have a rough idea on how the features are aligned for each model, it becomes easy for you to decide on the car.

Next the key question arises – Is it cheaper to buy a higher variant car or install added features in base model? Before deciding on that, lets see how each extra features contributes to your comfort and safety.

ABS & EBD are electronic braking systems that stands for Anti lock Braking System & Electronic Brake force Distribution. ABS prevents wheels from getting locked during the time of brake. If the wheels get locked, car is subjected to traction and skids easily. EBD varies the brake force applied on each wheel, and it distributes force depending on the road conditions, speed and load. Higher model cars have ABS & EBD installed in them where as to add this feature on base model cars, you need to buy and install aftermarket part, which has no guarantee on quality. If you choose to install them, do prefer a trusted dealer and a good aftermarket brand as a single unit of ABS is going to cost you nearly Rs 1300 (x4).

Air bags
During accidents, air bags protect humans from severe head collision with dash board. When car impacts with another vehicle or an object like tree or wall, it opens the air bag present in the steering for a driver and one more in the dashboard for the adjacent person. Some manufacturers also include air bags in front windows, as form of extra protection in case of collisions from sides. There is less possibility of installing air bags in basic featured car, as the air bag requires different bumper structure. It is also expensive to add an air bag for your basic model which can cost nearly Rs 30000 to 45000 on each one, but may reduce your car insurance bill to some extent.

Audio system
Generally cars with higher models have good audio system, whereas in basic featured cars it is optional. In India we can find wide variety of audio systems for cars ranging from Rs 10,000 to Rs 1,00,000. Audio system which is not an original equipment from the manufacturer also works well, as long as you have installed a branded audio set and speaker from a good company.

CNG kit
CNG kit is exclusively for petrol car users, because the engine in both the fuels is same. A CNG kit which is installed from manufacturer usually costs around Rs 30,000. You can also install CNG kit from aftermarket dealer which costs less, around Rs 22,000, but you cannot claim warranty in case of a repair.

Alloy wheels
Alloy wheels have become standard for higher end cars as they enhance the look & style of the car and also improve quality of ride, and fuel efficiency. Base models can get alloy wheels either from original manufacturer at the time buying or can install after market part for their old models. The aftermarket price may vary anywhere between Rs 2500 to Rs 8000 based on the wheel size.

Other features
Front and rear power window, power mirror, rear window defogger etc help in the daily usage of the car. They can be replaced in the existing car models but installing them in a base model is a bit tough task.
So, now it is left to you to decide whether to buy a high end car with added features or buy a basic featured car and get the parts installed. You will definitely find price difference between them as higher car models with manufacturer installed parts are more expensive than the basic car models with individually installed features.
Lets calculate the difference for Maruti Suzuki swift variants Zxi & Lxi :

Added Feature variant car model (Zxi) :

  • Zxi Ex Showroom price: Rs 6.24 lakhs
  • Installed CNG kit with OEM: Rs 30000
  • Total price of the car: Rs 6.54 lakhs

Adding extra features to the base model (Lxi) :

  • Lxi Ex Showroom price: Rs 4.65 lakhs
  • Extra Installations:
  • ABS for all four wheels: 1300 x 4 = Rs 5200
  • Two air bags in the front portion = 30000 x 2 = Rs 60000
  • Music system with an average price of Rs 50000
  • CNG kit with OEM same as in case of above situation: Rs 30000
  • 4 alloy wheels to the car (taking minimum cost) : 4×4000 = Rs 16000
  • Total price of the car: Rs 6.26 lakhs

After adding all the features to the base model we have a difference of Rs 28000. So by installing aftermarket parts in base model we can basically save Rs 28000. (We added air bag to base model, in real it is a less probable case.)
The above calculation is made by considering the least price of the part and air bags too, where it is practically not so easy task and the difference is just Rs 28000. So, instead of getting aftermarket parts installed on the base models, it is viable to buy a high feature variant car, as the price difference is not huge between them.

Which is more feasible – Factory installed or Aftermarket?

Factory installed parts have higher quality and are more reliable than aftermarkets because a car which is manufactured in factory goes with all types of testing where as base model car with aftermarket parts installed will not be tested well. As an example, a person driving a featured model car, has higher probability of escaping a head injury when accident happens, as the air bags are factory tested for safety and comes out exactly on time from the steering. If the same case happens with air bag installed base model car, there is no guarantee that it is going to open on time as it is never tested for destruction. So, forget the comfort, if you are looking for safety features thinking life is more important than money, then go for factory installed instead of aftermarket parts. However, adding the comfort feature to the base model of a car is purely optional, which depends on your interest and budget.

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