When you see an ad for a new car – whether it’s online, in print, or on TV – you know the starting price is often a hoax. No, that doesn’t mean the car’s starting price is arbitrary. The entry-level cost is accurate. However, finding that bare-bones base model borders on impossible. Often, these trims lack features such as alloy wheels, advanced infotainment technology, and, sometimes, power window. But Audi takes the idea of entry-level seriously. The base Audi A1 Sportback – the cheapest trim you can buy in the automaker's native region – is picked over like a skeleton of its former self.
Right out the gate, the A1 lacks a radio – like, any radio at all. There isn’t even a basic head unit and four speakers. There’s no radio. Nothing. At least not in the traditional sense. Instead, it's integrated into the instrument cluster. A slab of cheap black plastic with a cubby covers the gaping hole that would be there if the all the automaker did was omit the feature. Thankfully, the German luxury automaker spared a few cents for a black plastic cubby. It's crazy to think you can buy a new car – even the entry-level trim – without a traditional radio. Also, the area usually occupied by the speakers at the bottom of the doors is covered in plastic. Speakers are placed in the A-pillars.
You can spot the trim’s fleet-lot aspirations from the outside, too. Black plastic and simple design elements cover the front. The headlights look like units straight from the VW parts bin. These cost-cutting measures aren’t a bad thing; they’re just interesting to see coming from a luxury automaker. Move to the side profile of the A1, and you’ll notice the steel wheels poking out from under simple spoked hubcaps.
The A1 Sportback is cheap transportation that could be hard to find at the dealership. However, it may well serve someone who needs a new car. Then again, for lacking a radio and alloy wheels, the base A1 isn’t as cheap as you’d think – or hoped. The base trim starts at $25,122 (€21,700). That’s enough money for a non-luxury vehicle from a different automaker with a few options for added comfort and convenience. Or you could go for an even cheaper base model like the VW Polo – a car heavily related to the A1. It’s just as bare bones and about $10,000 (€10,000 ) cheaper. Then again, if you want an Audi — and you’re on a budget — here’s your chariot.