At one point, cars might’ve been deemed a means to an end. A way of getting from A to B quicker than you could do on a horse. Fast forward a hundred years or so, however, and they’re more of a Swiss Army knife on wheels.
Just about every type of driver – and even passenger – is catered for, with cars now capable of doubling as multimedia systems and massaging your back as you go. There are even BMWs fitted with a 30-odd-inch 8K screen and cinema-grade sound system.
To see how far we’ve come in the last 10 years alone, Vanarama compares the spec lists of some of the UK’s most popular cars between 2013 and 2023. We’ve analysed a decade’s worth of progress and calculated how much better off today’s drivers are, based on the value of car features that are now included as standard.
- On average, drivers in 2023 are £25k better off when it comes to car features
- Today’s Ford Focus comes with more than £30k of extras as standard, compared to 2013’s model
- The average new car comes with £25k of features as standar
- The Audi A3 has the smallest post-inflation price increase since 2013 (+£2,029)
Ford Focus Drivers Today Get More Than £30k Of Extras As Standard Compared To 10 Years Ago
We trawled car brochures and spec lists from 2013 and 2023 to determine what car features were once charged for but are now included as standard. The Ford Focus family hatchback comes with £32,727 in standard features – more than any other car in our study – and for only £8,996 extra than the Focus’ list price in 2013.
Back then, buyers had to cough up £8,971 for LED daytime running lights alone, and £7,035 for a satnav system. Even electric door mirrors added £4,137 to the cost a decade ago.
Today’s Drivers Are £25k Better Off When It Comes To Car Features
Overall, car buyers in 2023 get £25,210 of extras included at no added cost, compared to what manufacturers were charging for them in 2013. And that’s an even better deal considering the average list price has increased by only £6,459
Of the individual features, LED daytime running lights have the biggest value; manufacturers wanted £5,454 on average to fit a set of DRLs a decade ago. Just behind are satnavs (£4,031) and lane assist (£3,162), which alerts the driver if they unintentionally move across the white line.
Automatic light function, parking sensors and 16-inch alloys occupy the other end of this table, with a value of between £1,945 and £2,564. Interestingly, the alloys are the only cosmetic extra here, with the rest focusing on safety and convenience.
The Polo And Corsa Score Strongly On The Value Of Features Now Included As Standard
The latest VW Polo comes with more than 30 grand’s worth of extras included (£31,141), eclipsing the model’s £9,046 list price increase since 2013.
But the Corsa is arguably the winner, with a value of extras that is almost six times the increase in price since 2013 – today’s Corsa owners get £30,609 in features for no extra cost, despite the model costing only £5,809 more than it did 10 years ago. Back then, drivers paid £8,390 for black detailing, a cosmetic feature that has no impact on performance or convenience, and £4,582 for cruise control.
One explanation for this is the increased competition at every level of the UK car market, forcing manufacturers to increase the appeal of even entry-level models by offering a greater degree of safety, tech and convenience features.
The latest BMW 3 Series, for example, has ‘only’ £7,657 of extras included as standard but has also upped its game with the likes of the BMW Curved Display, a dual-screen dashboard system that wasn’t even available as an option ten years ago.
Of The Most Popular Cars, The Audi A3 Has Had The Smallest Price Increase In The Last Decade
Comparing post-inflation figures to give the best indication of change, we tracked the list price of the UK’s most popular cars from a decade ago to today. And despite being one of the more premium models in our study, it’s the Audi A3 that benefits from the smallest price change.
First appearing more than 20 years ago, the A3 has had a post-inflation price hike of only £2,029 since 2013 – just over £200 per year – but now comes with over five grand (£5,460) of features included as standard. On list price, it even undercuts rivals seen as more affordable, such as the Vauxhall Astra (£25,290) and Volkswagen Golf (£25,675).
Next is the Nissan Qashqai with a jump of £4,598, which is still almost two grand shy of the average price increase (£6,459). The entry-level model, however, comes with £8,590 of features as standard, including stop-start tech that Nissan charged £3,947 for in 2013.
The models researched include some of the UK’s most popular cars that were also around in 2013, allowing us to analyse a decade’s worth of progress in the automotive industry. Car brochures and spec lists from each period were compared to determine which features once demanded a fee (or required upgrading to a costlier trim) but are now included as standard.
All 2013 values, including both list price and feature values, were put through an inflation calculator to allow for direct comparisons.