Would you like your fuse box trimmed with leather, sir?
History is littered with unusual optional features for cars. Some have been complete head-scratchers, like the Toyota Century’s cassette deck option that was still available in 2016. Some have been quite brilliant but solving a problem very few people have, such as Volvo’s intruder heartbeat sensor that warns the via the key fob if someone is waiting in the car. Some are almost laughable now, like the 1950’s option for a glove box drink bar in your Cadillac.
We love to peruse the option lists for cars, and things haven’t changed much. Some options are as baffling as ever while some borderline on the genius. These are the more unusual and unique options we’ve come across more recently.
Porsche is usually quite restrained about its luxury features. In fact, removing features is often an option. However, if there’s not enough luxurious refinement for you in your Porsche, then you can have the companies Exclusive department wrap anything you like in leather, including the air vents, steering wheel surround, seat belt buckles or, if you’re really obsessed about leather, the fuse box.
If you’re going to stereotype an Italian car, then having the option of an espresso machine is the way to do it. The portable Espresso machine for the 500L requires a 12V socket available in a package upgrade that includes the machine, although Fiat will sell you it separately later. We’re still waiting for a pasta maker or special storage area for Armani suits though.
Bored of carbon-fiber trim? Tired of leather everywhere? Fed up with cleaning fingerprints from piano black plastic? Don’t worry, Bentley will trim your car with a stone veneer so you can feel like you never left your kitchen. At less than 1 millimeter thick, adding weight shouldn't be a concern plus it looks pretty cool. Unfortunately, Mercedes owners may look down on you for being so excited, they had an option for granite trim years ago.
No word on the pasta maker yet, but Fiat will happily kit your 500 with a perfume diffuser to go in the cupholder which is basically an upmarket Glade Plugin. You could also option a makeup holder because, well, why not? Or, you could pick up Fiat's own cologne or perfume for him or her.
Back in the day, the Pontic Aztek got a bad rap for being ugly. However, it was a vehicle with good ideas for an active lifestyle that included the option of an attachable tent. For Audi’s take on this idea, the tent is rolled out from the SUV’s roof rack, inflated and then assembled. Its designed to be erected in less than ten minutes, but unfortunately the Audi Q3 tent is not an option available in North America.
Nobody really understands the Nissan option on the Cube that entails having a small round piece of shag carpeting mounted on the dashboard. Possibly, it’s something to do with stress relief as it is pleasantly tactile and plush, but that really is a guess. No actual reason has been given other than it being listed by Nissan as a "design element” but Cube owners have been known to claim it holds things like pens and sunglasses well enough to be useful.
The idea of building in a small vacuum cleaner in the back of a minivan is one that should really have been around since the inception of the minivan. It makes perfect sense. Currently, you have to option your Honda Odyssey to either Touring or Elite elite spec for the convenience of always being able to clean up after your beloved little monsters.
Speaking of good and obvious ideas, not draining your electric vehicle's battery so much by using air-conditioning, radio or headlights by supplementing power with a solar panel seems like a slam dunk. It’s not too costly as an option on the Nissan Leaf, and seems like a no brainer when ticking boxes on the order form.
The heated central armrest could be the most Mercedes of Mercedes options out there, and what could possibly go better with heated seats and a heated steering wheel in your E-Class or S-Class? No longer does your elbow have to suffer from the chill of a winter's morning. And the thing is, it makes perfect sense. Your luxury vehicle should really warm up everything it can for you to get comfortable as quickly as possible.
For those that like to drive to places and then take part in an activity that requires wearing clothes with no pockets, such as a wetsuit, or doing something where a key could fall out of a pocket and get lost, then Jaguar has you covered. The Activity Key is a waterproof wristband that simply unlocks your vehicle when you’re close and locks it again as you move away. No doubt it’s complicated technology inside but, for the user, it’s a simple solution to a simple problem. Once you've gotten over the weird feeling of deliberately locking your keys in your car, anyway.
For just $5,815 you don’t have to perch on the tailgate of your Range Rover anymore. Instead, Range Rover offers a choice of black or tan leather for the two seats that can be stored underneath the trunk space floor. Perfect for enjoying a glass of champagne while watching an outdoor symphony orchestra, or really showing off in the parking lot where your local football team is playing.
Tesla really does understand the value of marketing, and this gimmick shows off the HEPA filtration system the company uses for its Model X and S lines. Bioweapon Defense Mode pressurizes the cabin for "maximum protection against hazardous external conditions.” Tesla is adamant it's not a marketing thing, and even tested the system and released some impressive results, but the reality is that it's still a gimmick. Saying that, for people with bad allergies or are stuck in traffic a lot it may actually be useful once in a while.
Rolls-Royce's Starlight headliner is made using fiber-optic lighting to give the impression you're wafting along in your Roller directly underneath the stars. It manages to be both a strange and wonderful idea, and sitting under one brings a real ambiance to your ride. It's not cheap though at a little over $12,000. However, if you can afford the $450,000 or so a Phantom costs in the first place, then you may as well tick the box and wow your passengers even more.