Are special trim packs worth it?

  • Are trim upgrades tempting enough over regular spec models?
  • We look at the pros and cons of manufacturers' special trims
  • From SEAT's latest Copa range to the Fiat 500byGucci

Manufacturers will employ all sorts of methods to get you to part with your cash - special incentives, discounts, 0% finance, extended warranties, free insurance etc - but these are all in-yer-face deals that have obvious benefits.

Then there are those tempting trim upgrades that promise bags of kits for little extra outlay. They make the cars look like good value but are they really worth it?

We've assessed five manufacturers' 'special trims' to see if they do represent good value for money.

SEAT Ibiza - Copa

 

 

 

The claims...
SEAT claims that, for some models, it is throwing in more than £1,000-worth of goodies for nothing. The new trim level is available in three Ibiza bodystyles - the SC, five-door and ST estate - and in one designation, SE Copa. It's available with a choice of two engines: the 1.4 16V petrol or 1.2 turbodiesel.  

The differences
If you buy a 1.4 Ibiza SE Copa you get 16-inch 'Fabula' alloy wheels, climate control (including refrigerated glovebox), rain and light sensors for automatic wipers and lights, dark tinted rear windows, leather steering wheel and gearknob, auto-dimming rear view mirror, and bespoke Copa upholstery. Standard Ibizas offer cruise control, six-speaker MP3 compatible radio/CD with aux-in and steering column-mounted controls, alarm, immobiliser and electric windows all round. 

To buy or not to buy?
Buy. As far as kit is concerned you get climate control free on the Copa whereas you would pay £255 for that if you were buying a standard SE. However, both are listed at £12,405, so it is worth shelling out for the Copa. 

Mazda MX-5 - Black Edition

 

The claims...
The 'Black' edition of the MX-5 is based on the Sportech model but has a black folding hardtop and 17-inch alloy wheels, black leather seats, a plaque telling you exactly which model you've bought and some other black interior touches to differentiate it from other MX-5s. Like the Sportech you get climate control, a Bose sound system, Bluetooth handsfree, cruise control and fog lights. Only 500 will be built. It'll cost you £22,995 with a 2.0-litre petrol engine with six-speed manual gearbox. Where as the Sportech costs £22,635.  

The differences
For your extra £360 you get a plaque, some details inside, a black roof, different colour alloys and a unique paint job. 

To buy or not to buy?
Don't buy - unless you really are dead set on a fancy paint job and a nice plaque. 

Fiat 500 - byGucci

 

 

 

The claims...

This is for the style-hungry wanting to make a 21St Century statement about their car. Apparently, it's the result of  an 'intensive creative collaboration' between Fiat and Gucci. Seems handbags and sunglasses aren't enough.  

The differences
Fiat 500byGucci features exteriors in two colours: black or white and both enhanced by the exclusive paint with glass. The same colour combination can be found on the key cover. The black version features shiny chrome details and a black and white interior and the white version has satin chrome details with ivory/black interiors. Both run on 16-inch spoked alloys embellished with"diamanté" on the spokes. The hubcaps are marked "GG" and "Gucci" is written in italics on the tailgate and on the door pillars. The version equipped with the 1.4 engine comes with brake callipers painted green. There's also a red and green Gucci signature that runs along the entire perimeter of the car purportedly connecting the exterior and interior and it's also featured on many interior details, such as the seats, the gearleaver, mats and seatbelts. It is bling at its very best/worst. 

To buy or not to buy?
Unless your name is Paris Hilton, we would suggest not. The 500byGucci will be available in the UK with two engines: the 1.2 litre, which will cost £14,565 or the 0.9 litre TwinAir, priced at £15,765, which is extraordinarily expensive for nothing more than a city car with fancy paint job. You can get a perfectly decent Fiat 500 with either engine for around £11,500 and suggest a little discipline when choosing options. We would, however, suggest you pay £775 for 16-inch alloys and around £300 for a nice paint job. If you want a bit of bling, spend about £150 on some stylish stripes. Keep it simple - the car's design speaks for itself-  and save your hard-earned cash.

 

Skoda - Octavia SE Plus

 

 

 

The claims...

The newly introduced SE Plus is available on all Skoda models and the Czech firm reckons you can make savings of up to £1,310 with the addition of extra kit. The SE Plus sits between SE and Elegance trim and two new engines are exclusive to SE Plus trim. By incorporating bluetooth handsfree, a multi-function steering wheel and a touch-screen sat-nav system on the Octavia. Skoda hopes to boost the appeal of SE Plus for both retail and corporate buyers.Since Skoda claims the largest saving will be made on the Octavia we thought we'd focus on that.   

The differences
Additional features above SE trim include unique upholstery, rear parking sensors, Isofix front passenger seat, touch-screen satellite navigation system, multi-function steering wheel and Media Device Interface (MDI) with connecting cable Bluetooth telephone connectivity. 

To buy or not to buy?
Buy. Manufacturers add in trims to fox customers and make extra cash on the sly. Sometimes they'll add some bit of detailing on the interior to justify exhorbitant prices, however the SE Plus does really represent good value. The Octavia SE Plus with the 2.0-litre 138bhp diesel engine has a list price of £19,440, while the same SE costs £18,480, however you do get £2,270 worth of extra kit, which, in effect, saves you £960.

 

 

Renault Wind 1.6 VVT Gordini

 

 

 

The claims...
The Gordini badge is essentially a badge of honour for Renault drivers. The Gordini name has attracted a sizeable cult following. Indeed, its fan community on Facebook has over 28,000 fans, while the Gordini iPhone application has been downloaded more than 115,000 times. The Gordini name harks back to an F1 racing heritage which ultimately spawned tuning company Renault-Gordini. Its colour scheme, featuring blue paintwork and two central stripes running down the middle of the car is the hallmark of a Gordini car highlighting French style and great dynamics. As well as the Wind there are Gordini versions of the Twingo and Clio. 

The differences
First up there's the blue colour scheme with twin stripes, white door mirrors and rear wing and gloss black roof.  The cabin features special 'Gordini' black and blue leather upholstery, blue and white door straps and a blue leather steering wheel with the signature white stripes on the centreband. A leather gear lever gaiter and polished metal gearknob bearing the Gordini name complete the look.

To buy or not to buy?
Buy. The Gordini Wind costs £16,095 while the standard GT Line on which it is based will set you back £14,795, but if you want the gloss black roof you'll pay £410, then £435 for metallic, pearlescent or illusion paint, a further £970 for leather seats making a total of £16,610, so in that respect the Gordini represents a good buy.

 

 

 

 

Special trims - our verdict
In the main the special trims are worth it, particularly if you are looking to buy a mainstream car. Manufacturers can throw more kit at cars at little extra cost so you can find yourself with a decent level of equipment without having to break the bank - option-box ticking can be an expensive business. However, be careful not to just go for the more expensive special trim if there's loads of stuff on it you just don't want. 'Boutique' trims, such as the Fiat500byGucci don't really represent good value at all, because it's just a lot of extra detailing without much in the way of useful equipment.