Audi Connect hands-on review

4G, baby

Audi Connect

Rather than be content with boring old 3G, the Audi A3 Saloon has a device in the glove box that can accommodate a 4G-enabled SIM-card – making it the world's first car to do so.

Sadly, we were unable to test out the loading speeds afforded by super fast mobile broadband as the test venue was out in the sticks of Ascot. On a mere 3G signal it's not instantly snappy but proved plenty fast enough for our needs.

Usefully, next to the SIM-card slot are two SDXC clots so you can add music to a 10GB flash drive or even a few pictures. This feature, however, is reserved for the aforementioned Technology pack in the A3 Saloon and the new S3/S3 Sportback so you will need to shell out the best part of £1,500 to get it.

A wheely good screen

Audi Connect

Fortunately, that extra dosh makes the wheel into a touch control. Rather than type out letters using the control wheel, you can draw a letter on top with your finger for a postcode; Audi Connect will work out what letter it was and put it on screen. In case you need to add a space, you can draw a horizontal line. Clever stuff – and surprisingly accurate in practice.

Features galore

Audi Connect
Audi Connect

So what exactly can Audi Connect offer you? Well, it has navigation based on Inrix data, so getting from A to B should be a painless process. The benefit of Inrix is that Audi Connect can tell you where the nearest petrol station is and, better still, the price of the fuel. Handily, our petrol A3 Saloon only gave us petrol prices, so no confusion there.

To make life very easy, it only takes an extra press to then navigate to the nearest petrol station – or one with a price per litre you deem acceptable. The navigation will open up and guide you turn by turn to fill up on liquid gold, sparing you those frightening moments when you think you are coasting on fumes.

This same system is applied to all other features. You can look for local events and then see when the event is going on before choosing to navigate to it. There's also flight information, train times, weather forecasts and parking information, with details on exactly how much you will be ripped off, sorry, pay.

Just in case you're worried Audi is asking you to read lots of text, a robotic-sounding woman will read out a news story, event details or whatever else you have on screen, so you can concentrate on driving. This voice works out useful and comical in equal measure because some words and names sound utterly ridiculous when pronounced by her dulcet tones.

Yes, we mentioned news. A spokesperson for Audi tells us that you can customise your news sources using the myAudi website – so in theory you could have the latest musings read out to you as you commute to and from work. Failing that, there are a number of preset sources to keep you informed about global goings-on.

Last but not least is the Picture Destination function. This allows you to navigate using Google Maps through a StreetView-esque interface – certain buildings appear in 3D, so it's easier to identify where you are.

Cleverly, if you set your home as an address, Audi Connect will only use a picture of your home street, not your actual house (unless you live at the end of a cul-de-sac, in which case, that's unlucky). This is in case your car is stolen and the thief tries to work out where you live. In this scenario, you can also disable the Twitter and Facebook access using the myAudi website, so no worries about them posting “lol I just got my car nicked” on your Twitter feed.