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Old 22nd February 2020, 07:05   #1
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Default Base variant + aftermarket accessories versus Top variant

Hi All,

Nowadays most of the cars are available with basic safety features from base variant. Do you think it will be wise to buy a base variant and add all necessary aftermarket accessories or go for a top model which meets our requirements?

For case study let us consider Nexon 2020. Safety and security features are common across all the variants along with power steering, reverse sensors, projector headlights and DRLs The main difference are car infotainment and comfort features. If you are budget conscious, is it wise to get base variant and add aftermarket accessories like android touchscreen head unit and speakers, shark-fin antenna, remote central locking, rear power windows, roof rails, fog lamps etc without voiding warranty? All these can be managed in a 50k budget. If you want model with all these features, then you have to stretch your budget for another couple of lakhs.
Another question to consider is what are the advantages and disadvantages of aftermarket accessories? Fit and finish? Durability?

Mods: Kindly rename the heading or merge with suitable existing thread.

Last edited by Aditya : 22nd February 2020 at 09:50. Reason: Typo corrected, thank you!
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Old 22nd February 2020, 07:36   #2
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Default re: Base variant + aftermarket accessories versus Top variant

An interesting thread and think of this each time I buy a car.
I find myself getting the lower-mid variant and speccing it up to my taste. I have done this for my past few cars, and was pretty happy with my logic.

Now however, I am now finding that safety items such as multiple airbags, ESP etc are increasingly important and my approach is failing in this regard as in India safety bells and whistles are generally only offered in the highest variant.

By going for the highest variant I generally have to accept things like larger dia wheels (17in-18in) and a sunroof, items that from experience, I find unsuitable for India and hence do not want.

I do wish Indian manufacturers begin to offer a 'safety pack' option in lower variants.

Last edited by KMT : 22nd February 2020 at 07:40.
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Old 22nd February 2020, 09:31   #3
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Default re: Base variant + aftermarket accessories versus Top variant

Variant choice depends on requirements. The lowest variant which fulfills my requirements is the one I prefer. I keep my cars for long term and, in such cases, extra bells and whistles have a detrimental effect on reliability. Even mid-variants come with decent features these days. However, when it comes to aftermarket accessories, I'll not go beyond alloy wheels and a touchscreen ICE. Anything that spoils the stock look (aftermarket power windows, for eg.) is a big no no.

Here's a related thread with some insightful details: (Analysis: Which is the most popular variant?)
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Old 22nd February 2020, 10:07   #4
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Default re: Base variant + aftermarket accessories versus Top variant

Depends on segment.

First of all thanks to the regulations, ABS and Airbags have become a norm. These cannot be done in aftermarket and all these years Automakers had prohibited them for the heck of differentiating higher variants. Given that we have basic safety available at lower variants, it makes sense to go for an aftermarket upgrade.

The automakers know this already. Today, most commodity segment cars are quite well priced between variants. However, this comes as a package. One may not need all features of a higher variant, and an aftermarket would be more beneficial. Generally I feel mid variants are quite well balanced. For example, Vxi or Vdi of Brezza/Ciaz already feature remote locking, parking sensors, projector headlamps and so on.

On the other hand, the benefits can be significant in luxury segments where price differentiation doesn’t add up well for features.
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Old 22nd February 2020, 11:29   #5
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Default re: Base variant + aftermarket accessories versus Top variant

I think nowadays, many people are increasingly choosing the top end models, or the one just below that (which usually also has a great set of features). Gone are the days when people used to buy the lowest LXI variants and then add accessories. In fact, the accessories market has seen a considerable hit because things like music systems and touchscreens have now become standard on most variants. Id personally choose the top variant and if it is completely out of budget, then the one just below that. Nothing beats OEM fit and finish in these matters.
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Old 22nd February 2020, 11:31   #6
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Default re: Base variant + aftermarket accessories versus Top variant

I would prefer the top variants of cars for the factory fit and feel. Going for a base variant with after-market accessories means tampering with the factory fit of the car plus risking the loss of warranty, in case something goes wrong due to after-market accessories, let's say due to a faulty wiring. Manufacturers are much more strict with after-market electrical fittings and their effect on warranty.

As far as Android system are concerned, I doubt the longevity of these systems as these are more like having an Android Tablet with choices mainly limited to 1GB or 2GB of RAM. Our phones with much higher RAMs start showing their age in 3-4 years. Would love to hear feedback of long term users of these systems though they have become the rage only in the last 2-3 years.

There are other factors like quality of the after-market fitments, which are generally inferior compared to stock(unless you spend a lot and thus negate the whole reason to buy a base variant).

The worst thing which I have seen both online as well as in my own circle, is people buying a base or lower mid variant and then adding accessories to it to make it look as the lower mid or the higher mid variant. Ultimately, you are paying almost as much as you would have paid had you got the next variant at the time of purchase itself. One of my colleagues got himself a Baleno Delta and then spent 22k for alloys, 3k for OEM armrest, 2k for MGA leather wrapped steering and then about 5-6k for foglamps and chrome door handles. The difference between the Delta and the Zeta was 55k and my colleague had already spent close to 35k on his car. He would have surely been able to afford that extra 20k. This will vary on case to case basis, but you get the gist.

I would personally advise buying the best variant that you can afford, and if you still feel like adding something, take the after-market route.

Last edited by AYP : 22nd February 2020 at 11:38.
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Old 22nd February 2020, 11:32   #7
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Default re: Base variant + aftermarket accessories versus Top variant

Originally Posted by K_Drive View Post
Hi All,

Another question to consider is what are the advantages and disadvantages of aftermarket accessories? Fit and finish? Durability?

Mods: Kindly rename the heading or merge with suitable existing thread.
Not a big fan of buying lower models and then fitting after market fittings. Disadvantages are
1. Fit and finish may not be as good as factory fitted accessories
2. If something happens to the external part after some years, authorised service center will not repair it. And if that part is discontinued in the market, you will have to get an entirely new one.
3. Most important disadvantage is the company warranty. Nowadays most car manufacturer s are strict with any after market electrical fitting. This will lead to warranty being void.

Last edited by Lambydude : 22nd February 2020 at 11:34.
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Old 22nd February 2020, 11:58   #8
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Default re: Base variant + aftermarket accessories versus Top variant

For me, it would depend on the individual car. Though safety features have become common on base variants there are plenty of cars out there those who only offer 2 airbags in the base variant vs 6 or more airbags in the top variant. Then there are some cars those who only have front disc brakes in the lower variant vs all four disc brakes in the upper variants.

Let's take the Nexon 2020 for example. The base variants miss out on the rear defogger which is an important safety feature according to me. It is practically not possible to retrofit such features through the aftermarket route.

Then there are some feel-good features such as a leather-clad steering wheel, sunroof, etc which cannot be matched by the accessory guys in fit and finish as compared to the factory finish.
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Old 22nd February 2020, 13:17   #9
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Default re: Base variant + aftermarket accessories versus Top variant

Since I keep cars for a very long duration with the maximum possible warranty, I tend to stretch and go for the topmost variant, both in case of new and pre-owned. Its difficult to find the topmost variant of older cars such as the first generation Swift in ZXi trim or older Baleno in VXi trim but the specifications are a bit future proof direct from factory (ABS and Airbags 10 years ago were very limited outside top variants). 10 years down the line, it could be a reverse camera, touch screen, UV cut windows, rear wipers and many more which would be limited to the ZXis, Alphas, Astas and Titanium+ of the vehicles. Any aftermarket modification can't be factory-fit as many have rightly said. This also increases the risk on the wiring as we do not know what is the quality of the wiring and components that are installed, especially in case of smaller cities where spurious components are widely available. This is where factory-level components provide some sort of assurance to me. This also helps in simpler insurance (in addition to warranty claims) and lesser risk of rejection due to tampering.
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Old 22nd February 2020, 13:22   #10
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Default re: Base variant + aftermarket accessories versus Top variant

Base variant in most entry level cars are just bare bones, without any pre-wiring or options to add accessories. IMO a Mid variant is more viable.

My pick would depend on few factors,
- Complexity of wiring or modifications involved
- Cost ratio (next grade vs added accessories)
- Warranty (though it is least priority)

Originally Posted by K_Drive View Post
android touchscreen head unit and speakers, shark-fin antenna, remote central locking, rear power windows, roof rails, fog lamps etc without voiding warranty? All these can be managed in a 50k budget.
All these cannot be managed with 50k or without voiding the warranty.
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Old 22nd February 2020, 13:35   #11
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Default re: Base variant + aftermarket accessories versus Top variant

It all depends upon the car and the price difference between the two variants which one would eventually upgrade to.

I'll give an example of Creta which we had bought for my friend. We selected the base variant which was 1.4 E+ diesel. The price difference between E+ and S variant was more than 2 lakh. Safety features like two airbags and ABS were common in both the variants. IIRC, apart from a few things like rear arm rest and rear defogger, we installed all the major accessories like touchscreen ICE, steering mounted audio controls, front fog lamps, alloy wheels, sunglass holder with integrated cabin light, etc for 50,000 approx. So there was a net savings of ~1,50,000. Even if there is any need to claim warranty, hyundai can only deny us warranty for suspension because of aftermarket alloys. They cannot deny electrical warranty because no wires had been cut and all the electrical installations were simple plug and play. Last month itself we had got the A.C. thermistor replaced under warranty without any questions being asked.

All in all it will depend upon case to case basis.

Last edited by auto_enthusiast : 22nd February 2020 at 13:39.
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Old 22nd February 2020, 13:41   #12
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Default re: Base variant + aftermarket accessories versus Top variant

Quite interesting thread and very much in sync with my thought process these days. As I am researching for my next car I watch a lot of you tube videos and recently I have been watching many new cars getting modified. One trend which has caught my eye is many people buying SUV style vehicle in base model. Mainly Seltos, Brezza, creta etc and bringing it to Karolbagh. Spend anywhere between 50k-1lac and converting it to almost a top model feature wise. Now a Hypersonic android unit which I see people mostly go for, it costs around 15k and its really fluid and feature packed. Throw in decent components and couple of tweeters and you got a great system all around. Leather seats, alloys, roof wrap, roof rails, chrome kit, DRL, led lights etc are most common modifications and enhance the look of base variant a lot. Even Electric ORVM are available as accessory.

There are features which we can't get after market like 6 airbags, a proper sunroof etc but they aren't deal breakers for most. Personally if my budget permits I will try to buy the highest of variant as I am a sucker for OEM factory finish and wont like to tinker too much with the car. However, now I see great value in buying the base or middle variant and spending some money and make it equivalent to top variant. Especially when my office is in Karolbagh and I see so many people doing this daily. You can easily save couple of lacs doing this. Food for thought.

Last edited by harry10 : 22nd February 2020 at 13:42.
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Old 22nd February 2020, 14:52   #13
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Default re: Base variant + aftermarket accessories versus Top variant

It depends on the available aftermarket accessories for that specific model with decent fit and finish.

For example, plenty of accessories are available for Creta like steering mounted control, sunglass holder etc. But I do not think if the same is available for Nexon or Marazzo. Not even sure if you can retrofit a standard 7 inch ICE on Nexon base as there was no standard 2 din slot available.

Before I bought my Ertiga ZXI+, I checked the feasibility of retrofitting steering mounted music control and electrically adjustable ORVM on the base Marazzo, but didn't get a positive response from dealer or accessory guys. Whereas, for Creta E+, for my colleague, the dealer itself was ready to install steering mounted controls, sunglass holder etc.
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Old 22nd February 2020, 16:01   #14
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Default re: Base variant + aftermarket accessories versus Top variant

There are two things that we did:

1) Pick the top variant (that's what I do). Nothing can beat the factory fit and finish.

2) When we picked the Jetta, we went in for the mid variant keeping budget in mind. 7 years later, we have added a lot of features that the current Jetta doesn't have. Even though all accessories are genuine (from the VW parts bin), there's been few hiccups during installation. Again - factory fit and finish statement from point 1. But in this, we were able to accumulate funds and added accessories when needed.

Having said that, I would always go with point 1.
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Old 22nd February 2020, 22:03   #15
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Default re: Base variant + aftermarket accessories versus Top variant

I'm in the lookout for a car (New or Used) with a budget of 8 to 12 lakhs. I prefer an automatic car with good ground clearance. Options are Freestyle, Brezza, Nexon, Scross, XUV 300, Creta, Seltos, Duster, BRV, Hexa, Corolla etc as new/used.
Ecosport loses out on back seat space and WRV does not have an automatic. Freestyle is the only non-automatic in consideration (A Car within budget with 6 airbags, ESP, TCS, good ground clearance etc is too tempting to be not considered at all, but automatics are more preferred).

Some of the features that I consider as 'must haves' for my car (if I buy New Brezza, Nexon, Scross, Venue or XUV 300) are:
1. 2 Airbags, ABS, EBD, Reverse parking sensor
Standard in today's cars.
2. 4 Power windows, Speed sensing auto door lock, Remote Key (for lock, unlock), Electrically adjustable mirrors
Present in all base models in consideration (or to be precise, in all Base Automatic Models since Automatics don't come in base models for most cars)
3. Height Adjustable front seat headrests
Standard in cars in consideration.
4. Steering mounted audio-phone controls
This seem to have become a premium feature for New Nexon as its present only from XZ.
Car - Present only in x model from base / total models
Nexon - 3rd variant/ out of 5
Brezza - 2/4
S-Cross - 2/4
Venue - 2/4
XUV 300 - 2/4
5. Height Adjustable rear seat headrests
My car will have elders in rear seats for long trips and hence I consider this as a must have feature. Tough to retro fit.
This is a top of the line premium feature in Nexon. Applauds to S-Cross and XUV 300 to provide this from base model.
Nexon - 4/5
Brezza - 2/4
S-Cross - 1/4
Venue - 3/4.
XUV 300 - 1/4.
6. Height Adjustable driver seat
Not possible to fit in after market.
Nexon - 4/5
Brezza - 3/4
S-Cross - 3/4
Venue - 3/4.
XUV 300 - 3/4.
7. Front Arm rest (can be fit in after market)
8. Touchscreen audio system with android auto and reversing camera (can be fit in after market)
So, the minimum model variant I need to buy for the above minimum features are:
Nexon - 4th/out of 5
Brezza - 3/4
S-Cross - 3/4
Venue - 3/4.
XUV 300 - 3/4.

Manufactures are positioning Steering mounted audio-phone controls, Height Adjustable rear seat headrests and Height Adjustable driver seat as premium features. These are hard to fit in after market and hence buyers like me are pushed to buy the top 2 trims without needing most of the features that come in those top trips. I do not consider these as premium features, neither do these look like costly additions for the manufacture.
Middle variants lacking these features make them not-fit-to-buy variant for most cars. I'm worried about my elders not getting rear adjustable headrests in my new 12 Lakh car when my friend's 11-year-old Wagon R had them. I don't think a lot new research would have gone in to these features in the past 10-20 years and hence they should not command a premium.
It feels like being pushed to go for a higher variant. All manufacturers push buyers by restricting features like these to top variants.

Some even provide cruise control, alloy wheels, push button start, touchscreen, projector headlamps, Auto AC in lower variants compared to what I consider as must have.
PS: 'Must Have' features will vary between different people based on respective use cases. These are features I feel are must have and essential based on my use case. Also, please pardon if any of the features are not correctly mapped.
PPS: Some feature distribution observations/rant - Honda shamelessly does not provide rear adjustable headrests even in top variants of some of their cars. Creta and Hexa top AT variants miss out on ESP even after cost around 20Lakhs. Suzuki does not provide 6 airbags in any of their cars on sale. Top end Nexon and XUV 300 costing 16 lakhs with an AMT gearbox is absurd. Ford does not provide an Auto gearbox in any model below Ecosport. Duster current BS4 petrol auto is bare-bones.

Some examples of Nice to have features worth paying extra or going for higher variant for are:
1. ESP, Traction Control, Break Assist - Applauds to Nexon for making these standard.
2. 6 airbags
3. Halogen Projector headlamps - Standard in New brezza and Nexon
4. Electrically foldable mirrors and Rear central arm rest
5. Torque converter or CVT automatic
6. Automatic climate control

Some examples of features I do not wish to be Forced to pay for getting basic features:
1. Push button Start-Stop
2. Cruise Control
3. Sunroof
4. Leather upholstery
5. Heated seats and heated mirrors
6. Dual zone climate control

I would buy the variant with the features I 'want' (i.e. all the features I feel are essential and then pamper myself with some of the nice to have ones based on cost/budget). If there is a feature in a higher variant which I want and I can get it added to the lower variant at a nominal cost without voiding warranty, I would add that feature in lower variant instead of going for top variant.
Looking at the current feature distributions, it does look like I will end with lots of nice to have features while fulfilling my essentials list
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