Opinion: Base models are best

Right. You’ve got the cash to buy that second car which is going to be the one you take out on Sundays. You know the make, you know the model, but which variant?

When we are looking to purchase a new car or go after a used car we may have had our eye on, we often tend to go after the hero in the range. Usually it has the best of everything, all the good stuff you want on a car, and it also gives you a sense of pride that the one you’re driving is the ultimate expression of the model.

But I’m going to make a case for the base model. The one with the least power, the one lacking some mechanical goodies, maybe missing a few other bits and bobs, and the slowest of the range (at least according to Nurburgring lap times).

Usually the base model is specced and priced to entice customers in, and because of this will miss out on things like an LSD, extra power, more powerful brakes, lighter rims, clever suspension, and so on and so forth.

With base models using less exotic or complex parts and components, they generally cost less to service and repair

The fact it’s cheaper is already a positive. Let’s face it, cars are expensive, especially when you start looking at performance models and those from Europe such as Porsche and co. So when it comes to luxury cars having a base model gives more people the chance of ownership and enjoyment.

This is especially true when looking at the used market. These days the rarer more highly specced models command a premium right out of the showroom like Porsche’s GT2/3/4 models while the base models are in a depreciation cycle.

With base models using less exotic or complex parts and components, they generally cost less to service and repair. They are also more often cheaper to insure.

But there’s another reason why I believe the base model may be the better choice.

These days car manufacturers are so accomplished when designing and engineering a car that no stone is left unturned, so when it arrives to the market it’s built as close to perfection as possible. Thanks to electronics and other engineering advances, cars can now come out of the factory lowered, with big wheels, and an engine which can reliably produce decent torque and horsepower.

A large part of car ownership in the past was upgrading everything that the manufacturers were unwilling to do because of cost or otherwise. There was a lot of scope for improvement as manufacturers left a lot on the table. The base model is almost like a blank canvas for those of us that like to add a little something to the car to make it our own. It’s up to us to choose the suspension, wheels, brakes, exhaust, and even parts of the interior that will enhance the car and make it unique.

You could argue the cost of enhancing your car is the same cost or more of buying the higher spec model in the first place. But that would take the fun out of creating something yourself, doing it your way, and making the car feel like it’s truly yours. You may end up creating something better than a higher spec factory model.

When it comes to driving, base models also tend to be a little slower which given decreasing speed limits, increased road use, urban sprawl, astronomical fines etc it’s difficult to extract anything from the chassis and engine unless you plan on going warp speed. So going a little slower would actually be a more rewarding drive.

Which model would you choose the base over the range topper?

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