Should you special order your new Audi?

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Special ordering has become an increasingly attractive way to buy or lease a new Audi. By waiting just a few short months, you can get your new Audi customized to your exact specifications and save money at the same time.

A new Audi can be customized in a seemingly unlimited number of ways, many car buyers can be frustrated tying to find their ideal vehicle. Each Audi dealer has a limited number of vehicles on their lot and their first choice is to sell you one of these. If they have the one you want, great. If not, you can decide on a “close-enough” car on the lot, visit another dealership and hope they have a better fit, or order the vehicle exactly the way you want it. (Cartelligent can help you search inventory throughout California (and beyond if necessary) to find the closest match, or place a special order for your dream car.)

What is a special order?

A special order, or factory order, occurs when a consumer orders a specific vehicle with the color and options they want. Typically, the individual will configure the vehicle online with the exact features desired and then place the order either directly with a salesperson at the dealership or through a car buying service like Cartelligent that helps clients manage the process. Consumers cannot special order a car directly from Audi or most other major car manufacturers.

What are the benefits of a special order?

There are a number of cases where special ordering can be a great strategy. 

  • You don't want to pay for features you won't use
  • You want the vehicle configured a specific way
  • You want a vehicle that has little to no inventory available 


We’ll expand on each of these in turn:

You don't want to pay for features you won't use

When your ideal car has limited inventory, it can be appealing to take an in-stock model that has similar features. For example, the only Moonlight Blue Metallic S8 you’ve found can be very tempting even though it's equipped with the $3,000 rear DVD player you don't particularly want. Ordering the car takes a few months more but saves paying for expensive features you won’t benefit from.

You want the vehicle configured a specific way

While many vehicles can only come in a handful of available packages, a new Audi can be configured in hundreds of ways.

Take the example of the Audi Q5 vs the Toyota Highlander:

2016 Audi Q5 2016 Toyota Highlander
Can be configured over 1,000 different ways Can only be configured about 100 different ways
Average inventory of 10/dealer  Average inventory of 20/dealer
Approximately 500 vehicles in state of California Approximately 2,000 vehicles in state of California


With only seven trims available in nine standard colors, the odds are pretty good you’ll be able to find the Highlander XLE in Silver Sky Metallic in stock. Meanwhile the Q5 Prestige SUV in Cuvee Silver Metallic with the Black Optic Package will be much more difficult to locate exactly the way you want it.

In this case, special ordering the Audi can be a fantastic option that allows you to get exactly the color and features you want. 

You want a vehicle that has little to no inventory available

Sometimes a newer model like the Audi A3 Sportback e-tron or a rare vehicle like the R8 can be extremely difficult to locate at any dealership. In this case, your best options are to special order the car you want or find another model that you like just as much.

How much can special ordering an Audi save?

At a bare minimum, ordering a vehicle saves dealers the insurance, lot fees and other costs involved with having a car sit in inventory. This can make them more motivated to negotiate on price since the vehicle costs them less than an in-stock unit. Additionally, as discussed above, ordering avoids paying extra for unwanted features which can add up to even greater savings.

How long does a special order usually take?

Special ordering takes longer than buying a vehicle off the lot—typically around 6 to 10 weeks for the majority of Audi SUVs (which are built in the US) and 8 to 12 weeks for vehicles built in Germany. Audi also offers pick up of special orders in Germany for those who want the fun of driving their new car on its home turf (See European Delivery: Want a European vacation with your new car?).

How do I decide what I want?

The Audi website is designed to make the ordering process simple. They offer interactive features that allow you to compare and contrast colors and options so that you can visualize the vehicle and determine exactly what you want. Your Cartelligent agent can also help walk you through your options and decide which are important to you.

Can I still negotiate on the price of the vehicle?

Yes, but this should be done before the order is placed. Once you’ve ordered the vehicle, it will be much more difficult to get the Audi dealership to be flexible on price. However, if the vehicle has low inventory and extremely high-demand, the dealership may not be willing to negotiate much on price as they only have a set number of units they can order.

Can I take advantage of current lease and finance incentives?

Audi will not allow you to lock in the lease and finance rates when you order the vehicle, but you will be eligible to take advantage of special offers available at the time the vehicle is delivered. 

How much money does it cost to place the order?

Most Audi dealers may request a deposit at the time of order (Cartelligent clients very rarely pay this). This deposit is typically refundable if the client decides not to purchase the car when it arrives.

What happens if I change my mind?

Nothing—you can change your mind at any time until you pick up the vehicle and sign the final paperwork. If you have put down a fully refundable deposit, this should be returned to you.

What if I need my new Audi immediately?

If you need a new car immediately, special ordering is probably not your best option. If the car you want is not available, you will need to compromise on color and options, or look at cars that have similar features that will meet your needs.

Can I lease an Audi that is special ordered?

Yes. We often recommend special orders to our clients who are currently in leases since they know precisely when they will need a new car and can take advantage of that time frame to order the car exactly how they want it.

How do I place a special order?

Unless you go through a car buying service like Cartelligent, you will need to go into a dealer to order and negotiate the price of your special order. Be prepared to stand your ground and don't be swayed by the car on the lot that's the wrong color and has the wrong options. Their preference will be to sell you an in-stock car rather than wait a few weeks for the commission on an ordered car. Let them know that you're there to place an order and you expect them to help you do so.

If you have the flexibility on your timing or can start the process in advance of when you need your new car, special ordering can be a fantastic way to get your new Audi configured exactly how you want it. Whether you're considering a special order or a vehicle that's readily available, Cartelligent can help you get a great deal on exactly what you want. Call our team of car-buying experts at 888-427-4270 or get started today.