Buyers confused by extensive options lists are spending less on cars as a result

Twenty per cent of new car buyers are being left confused by the ‘bewildering’ number of optional extras, trim levels and engine derivatives, a survey has found.

Furthermore, of those who had been confused during the car buying process, 50 per cent ultimately bought a less expensive car or one from another brand.

The findings, from a study of 1,500 new car buyers by consumer outlet What Car?, found that confusion is still rife in the industry despite manufacturers simplifying their ranges in recent years. This has been driven by complex new emissions regulations, which take into account options fitted to cars.

Buyers also reported that the number of vehicle specifications to choose between was the most stressful part of the buying process.

It’s not just optional extras or equipment packages, either. What Car? found that the average number of petrol derivatives has risen from 15.6 per model in 2013 to 16.5 today. Meanwhile, hybrid model derivatives have risen from 1.4 to 4.6 in the same time frame, with only diesel derivatives falling in recent years.

Steve Huntingford, editor of What Car?, said: “Some new car buyers have embraced the ability to personalise their vehicles, but for others the old saying, ‘less is more’, rings true. This is certainly the case for the one-in-five car buyers who are even more confused after the research phase of the car buying process than before they started.

“Manufacturers can help by simplifying their model line-ups, or consumers can look for our online reviews to find out all they need about the various specs available, including which make most sense.”

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