Automakers like to play games with pricing, and one of the ways they can advertise that their starting price is lower than their competition is to exclude the destination fee. However, Audi seems to be a little extra sneaky about that on their online configurator.
Recently, I was working with a customer who wanted to order the all-new Audi A5 Sportback. Naturally, he did what we all would do and visited Audi’s website to build the car he would like. He selected his trim and options and got what he thought was the price of the car. According to the configurator, a 2018 A5 Sportback Prestige with a few options should cost $51,950.
Except when I submitted that build to a dealer to shop a price the store came back with an MSRP of $52,925. I thought this was odd and I went back to the website to see if I missed anything. Maybe there was an additional option I checked off. What happened was, I missed this little disclaimer that says “View key MSRP, speed” and MPG info on the Sportback homepage.
When you click that you get some fine print that says the following -
Starting MSRP of $42,600 for a 2018 Premium A5 Sportback 2.0T with automatic transmission. Model shown is a 2018 Prestige A5 Sportback 2.0T with automatic transmission in Monsoon Gray with available S line sport package, 19” S line wheel package and Driver assistance package with a starting MSRP of $54,625. Prices exclude $975 destination, taxes, title, other options and dealer charges. Dealer sets actual price.
I spend a lot of time on various configurators and I have never seen the destination fee straight up omitted from the final build. As you can imagine this can cause some confusion to someone who is building various cars to compare prices. Both BMW and Mercedes include their destination fee under the “summary” section of their respective configurators.
Here is an example from Mercedes:
By omitting the $975 destination fee and hiding it in some disclaimer, your average Audi buyer may not find out that their desired car will cost more than they expect until they speak to a dealership.
New luxury cars aren’t cheap and while $1,000 or so may not make or break a buyer’s decision to purchase one brand or the other it’s not too much to ask that brands provide accurate pricing on their online configurators.
Jalopnik has reached out to Audi USA and asked whether or not the omission of the destination fee was a technical glitch or if there was a specific reason for doing so. We will update this post if they respond.