Six times manufacturers charged more for less

11th June 2021
Laura Thomson

You know the feeling; you settle on a car that you really like, test drive it, picture it parked on your driveway – only to find out that the stereo that sits in the dealership’s demo is actually optional. The sports exhaust? Just a few thousand pounds more… 

But how about the other way around? Have you ever had to pay a manufacturer to take something off? Believe it or not, it’s a surprisingly common conundrum, especially on higher-end automobiles. 

Drawing from the GRR team’s collective knowledge, we’ve put together a list of those annoying and costly downgrades. 


Badge deletes

De-badging is a matter of personal choice, with some drivers using it to disguise the fact they’re driving the lowest spec model, and others choosing it for the sleeker appearance and ease of cleaning. And while de-badging is often done via a variety of homebrew methods, we’re not referring to these awkward Astra or boy racer BMWs. 

No, we’re talking about the manufacturers who charge you to not put the badge on there in the first place. While most are now so kind as to do the job for free, in the past, many used to charge – although we’re not sure exactly what for…


Why anyone would buy a performance model and then pay to remove the very element that enhances its performance is beyond us, but believe me it’s possible. 

There are plenty of aftermarket deletion kits – for example, to remove the wing from a 911 GT3. However, few manufacturers will let you pay to remove their handiwork at the factory for fear of ruining the driving experience that they have worked so hard to create. 

But Koenigsegg will, and on the most insane of its models, the Jesko, no less. After spending more than 3,000 hours on aerodynamic analysis for the hypercar, the manufacturer launched the Jesko Absolut, a low-drag variant, which replaces the large rear wing with ‘vertical stabilisers’ inspired by the F-15 fighter jet, which aid high speed stability, reduce rear turbulence and help to bring its drag coefficient down to an incredible 0.278Cd (compared to the Bugatti Chiron’s 0.36Cd).

The Absolut also loses the front arch louvres and bonnet vents, plus some of its ride height, while gaining length and rear wheel aero covers. The result? A hypercar like no other, with a top speed in excess of 300mph thanks to its 1,625PS (1,195kW) 5.0-litre turbocharged V8.

It costs a huge $3,419,000 (£2,421,968), compared to the standard Jesko’s $2,800,000 (£1,983,478), which seems like an awful lot just to remove a few components… 



This one makes sense: removing tech to lighten the load and thus improve performance. And while you may think removing expensive options such as infotainment and air conditioning may result in significant savings, alas you’d be wrong. On some Porsches, specifically the 911 GT3 and GT3 RS, and a few Caymans, you will even find yourself paying for radio and AC deletes.

In a similar vein, various German performance packages will include the speed limited software removal, at a not insubstantial cost to the buyer. 


Back seats

Another obvious weight saving, removing the back seats from a car is usually something you’d do yourself, right? 

Well not always, it seems… A number of manufacturers offer the option to specify models without any backseats at all, and charge a small fortune for the favour. 

Take the Jaguar XV SE Project 8, for example, on which the optional Track Pack removes the rear seats and replaces them with a rear roll cage for a nominal £10,000 – that’s on top of an OTR price of £149,995. I guess it’s not that bad, as you do get carbon fibre bucket seats and four-point harness up front and a weight saving of 12kg. 

Other cars where you can expect to pay more for less include the Abarth 695 and the Alfa Romeo Giulia GTAm.


Drivetrain and running gear

The argument between manual and automatic drivetrains rages on, and has now extended to the two-wheeled side of life, with Honda offering the surprisingly capable DCT on a number of its models. 

Admittedly a tenuous argument, this involved removing the clutch lever and gearshift, and counts a £900 premium on the 2021 CRF1100L Africa Twin, with the standard model costing £13,049 and the automatic £13,949. 


Gear lever

And a bonus one, because it’s been bothering me ever since I rode the Royal Enfield Meteor last week. As standard, it comes with a heel-toe gear lever – the kind where you press your toes to go down a gear and your heel to go up. That's all very well if you’re accustomed to such a shifter, but on a bike targeted at ‘learners and returners’, it seems overly-complicated and entirely surplus to requirements. You can specify a standard shift, but only at an additional premium.

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