Buying a new car is an exciting business. It’s also a very expensive one, and if you choose the wrong options, it can prove even more costly. In an effort to make the right choices when speccing up a new SEAT Leon ST Ecomotive, I sought an expert’s advice.
Prices for this version of the Leon start at £20,485. The Ecomotive model is essentially the mid-range SE specification so it’s already a well-equipped car meaning I should be able to get a car to my liking for minimal extra outlay. Dr Richard Parkin from Glass’s Guide nonetheless warned: “It’s easy to get carried away ticking boxes but you must remember options will generally depreciate faster than the car. If the car is worth 70 per cent of its value new at the end of the first year, the options will be worth much less than that.”
There are however some extras that buck the trend. Dr Parkin explained: “Anything that you can see on the outside such as lowered suspension, DRLs and privacy glass will help add value. Things on the inside tend not to, although navigation does. Used car buyers are increasingly expecting second-hand cars to have sat nav. It’s the same with Bluetooth and USB sockets. They’re becoming ‘must haves’ rather than ‘nice to haves’.”
This connectivity is standard on all models and SEAT is adding further value to people’s cars come resale time by offering all Leon models with free DAB radio, daytime running lights, and satellite navigation, all lumped together in a £1075 Technology Pack.
I should explain that my original intention with the Ecomotive was to create an 85.6mpg motor with the visual appeal of the hot FR version. Privacy glass was £175 but I think worth it to give the Leon more attitude. I also wanted to up the wheel size to 17-inches. However, these particular wheels came off my cunning plan before I’d even put them on. In Ecomotive guise, I discovered, the Leon can only be specified with 16-inch rims.
Still the £375 I saved meant I could be adventurous with paint. The cheap choice of flat red or non-metallic saw me opt for £495 Apollo Blue because it’s neither boring and staid nor sufficiently outrageous to put anyone off. Dr Parkin agreed with being conservative here. “Out-of-the-ordinary ‘lifestyle’ colours should be reserved for top of the range or sporty ‘lifestyle’ models. With more regular cars, you need regular colours to appeal to the mass market and maximise your return on investment.”
According to Dr Parkin, the £150 I spent on the Convenience Pack primarily to add the auto-dimming rear view mirror will enhance its desirability but I won’t recoup that cost at resale. These plus some other little tweaks have bumped the Leon’s cost up to £22,810. Should I feel bad? “When you buy a used car, you invariably compromise by accepting some things that you may not like. With a new car, you can have it exactly as you want,” he reassured me. “Think of it as paying a premium for that privilege.”