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Should you buy the base model of a car?

Should you buy a base model?

Whenever a new car is launched, the price quoted in the headlines happens to be the entry-level one for the base model. This is basically done to lure people into showrooms. But how many of us actually buy the cheapest, base variant. Let’s find out. Does it make sense to go for the cheapest model? Let’s find out.

Buying a top-variant not worth it?

The Indian market, to some extent, seems to prefer the mid and base variants in the under Rs 10 lakh segment. The reason is clear: prices are typically a lakh more for basically the same car with some extra features. Also, for most, the ‘amount’ of car they are getting for the money is seen as the best deal. It is thought that the extra features in higher-end variants would not really fetch a better price in a re-sale.

These days car-makers give extra features, including, we might add, safety features, which are seen as not required by many. Some are not concerned if six airbags or dual airbags are worth the extra investment — there is a grave disregard or lack of knowledge so far as safety is concerned.

Another reason for buying base variants is that it allows you to customise a car: for example, one can go for a aftermarket audio system suited to one’s taste and budget.

Should you buy a base model

The other angle

For cars costing upward of Rs 10 lakh, the story is quite the opposite.

Hyundai for example is seeing more demand for the top-end Venue and Creta that form the bulk of its sales. The Kia Seltos and MG Hector too see a big demand for their respective top-end trims.

The reason is the wide gulf in the features and functions offered in the base and top-end trims. For such the headline grabbing features, customers do not mind paying more.

Also, in the pricier segments, customers are less price sensitive and more likely to be wanting features and luxury. Typically car-makers also do not keep stock of their base model cars in Tier 1 cities, as there is much less demand.

Are you short-changed?

If you are buying a base model, are you getting a good deal? Car manufacturers cut many features — even visually appealing stuff such as alloys — from their base trims. Even the interiors of the base model cars is more bare-bones and devoid of many features. Thus, we think it makes the mid-level variant the one to go for.

Resale value?

Due to the changing Indian market dynamics and growing awareness, the resale value of an entry level trim car might be affected — one may find it tougher to sell a base model

Verdict

Thus, while buying a base model may make short-term sense from a price point of view, in the long run, it does not seem to be a good deal for the customer.