Configuration Nation!

I love online car configurators. Back in the day when I had free time on my hands (I can barely remember it), I used to spend hours building all my dream cars. From what I hear, the Next Generation is now carrying on that tradition.

This evening, after a long workday, I decided to wind down by returning to my old pastime. While I am generally familiar with the car models that are out there, I no longer have any idea about available colors, options, etc. Beyond doing nerdy research for my own purposes, I thought it would also be interesting to see how the configurators have changed over the years. I was particularly interested to see if the manufacturers would make it easy for me to build some cars and share them with you guys.

The answer? Sort of.

I’m on an S-Class kick lately, so I started off at Mercedes-Benz. First I built an S550 (starting price $92,900), but I added so many options that my build cost began to approach the starting price of the S63 AMG ($139,500). So, in the manner of all great justifiers, I determined it would be most economical to just go with the AMG. I thought it was a good sign when I read, under Options, “This vehicle is equipped with a high level of standard equipment. No additional options are available.” See?! More economical.

I proceeded to build a beautiful Anthracite Blue over Silk Beige/Espresso Brown monster sedan. My only addition was the (most necessary) Burmester High-End 3D Surround Sound system.

Grand total? $153,025. Economical indeed.

Mercedes will let you share a configuration via Facebook or Twitter, but I would have liked a link I could paste here, or the ability to generate a PDF.

BMW does generate a link, in addition to offering share options via Facebook, Twitter and e-mail. So you can see the lovely Estoril Blue over Oyster Dakota Leather M235i coupe I built here. Nifty, eh? And infinity extra points to BMW for still, uh, making cars with manual transmissions. Are you listening, Mercedes??

Next, I hopped over to Audi to build my dream RS 7. In my humble opinion, Audi builds some of the most beautiful cars on the planet, and the RS 7 is one of the most beautiful Audis. I was really impressed with Audi’s configurator – it has improved by leaps and bounds in the last few years. I’m doubting that has anything to do with the ranting survey response I sent them several years ago, but you never know…

And here’s a small rant – the RS 7 has a base price of $104,900. At that price point, they should not charge you $500 or $1,075 extra depending on the exterior paint. Unless it is inlaid with diamonds and was blessed by the Pope himself, I don’t intend to pay extra for paint on a six-figure car. Just saying.

Here’s an interesting discovery – Audi’s blue is called Estoril Blue, too. Is this a German thing? It’s not like “Estoril” is the most common word. You’d think someone in the corporate espionage department of either carmaker would have figured out that their competitor was using that name.

Oh, well. Who cares. I’m going with Panther Black crystal, a delicious deep purple. Audi can subtract the $1,075 when we draw up the paperwork.

$1,300 for aluminum/black wood inlays?? Nope. But I’ll accept $5,900 for the Bang & Olufsen Advanced Sound System. Priorities.

Audi doesn’t allow you to share your configuration via Facebook or Twitter, but it does have a PDF download option.  Here’s my mad beast of an RS 7.

Next, the Jaguar F-Type. It’s been on my mind ever since my Jaguar excursion in Houston last fall. I’m typically a coupe kind of girl, but the short romp I had in the F-Type convertible is still lodged in my cerebral cortex. So the convertible it shall be.

Jaguar crams a ton of information and options into its configurator, and in an innovative layout. I admit to having been slightly overwhelmed by it all. But, overall, Jaguar had by far the most engaging configurator. By the time I had built my beautiful British Racing Green F-Type S convertible, I longed for the car in a way I hadn’t with the others. Impressively, Jaguar offers innumerable ways to share configurations. Most of the methods were so hip I didn’t even recognize them.

Parting conclusions: Jaguar has the best online configurator. The Germans need more synonyms for the word “blue.” And I just wasted about an hour.

It was fun, though! Share your own configurations in the comments!

Advertisements