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Test driving the new A3 TDI S-tronic: initial findings

Discussion in 'New A3/S3 (8V Chassis)' started by sebtomato, Jul 26, 2013.

  1. sebtomato
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    sebtomato Member

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    Hi,

    Finally, Audi has agreed to give me a car on loan for a few days, so I can compare the new A3 2.0 TDI S-tronic SE against my current one (previous A3 2.0 TDI model, although Sport version).

    My initial findings:


    • TDI engine is much more refined and very smooth. Seems also much quieter and vibrating less.
    • Stop and start is not very smooth and very noticeable, but probably ignore after a while
    • The S-tronic gearbox works very well, and it's more enjoyable to leave it in manual than before
    • Suspensions on the SE model are much nicer than my current car: car drives very well without making the ride too hard
    • The standard screen is quite low resolution/pixelated and dim: the brightness setting does not seem to do anything
    • I have put some MP3 on a SD card, and they are showing by folders: however, can't find an option to display by artist or other attributes. Most artwork does not display.
    • I don't like the LEDs used for the oil temperature and fuel tank: standard dials were better, easier to read and looking better
    • The integrated Sat Nav is quite poor. I currently use Tomtom Live in my car, and I don't understand how people in this forum can think that the Audi system is better: map/directions very hard to read (not a clean 3D view like the tomtom), useless traffic information (Tomtom live is a lot more precise without doubt), no speed camera warnings, no Google search etc. Having the pop-up screen in the middle means positioning the Tomtom on the windscreen will be a pain. I don't know if it's possible to prevent the screen from popping out when the engine starts
    • Not too keen either on the new air conditioning buttons: they look cheap and out of place in term of colour/design. Pressing the "auto" button used to link both sides to the same temperature. I don't know how to do that now
    • The rear and side mirrors are smaller than the previous model, so harder to see
    • The air vents look flimsy compared to the previous model
    • So many buttons on the central console and on the steering wheel. Before, I had one volume button and one track button (forward/rewind) on the steering wheel. Now, no more simple forward/rewind. I think they overcomplicated it and it is hard to control everything without looking, like finding the back or menu button. An iPod can be controlled with one scrolling wheel and one button in the middle. Scrolling seems to go the opposite way of what is expected
    • The steering seems much lighter than on my current car, not sure if it's a good thing, or if it's a way to sell the optional adaptive steering
    • The glove compartment is tiny compared to previous one, and so are the door storage. Overall, storage is much worse
    • The front arm rest seem to have lost its storage. Let's hope it does not squeak as much as the previous one after a while
    • I don't know where the mileage of the car is displayed

    I think the car is much better from a mechanical and driving view-point. Not sure the new dashboard and interior is actually a lot more premium than my current car. I think the previous A3 looked more consistent inside.

    If I was to order one, I am not sure if it's worth upgrading the screen (is the larger one brighter and Sat Nav improved? What are the other benefits?) and also going for sport suspensions. I like the look of the S-line, but car might look strange with large wheels and standard suspension.

    I have the car for a few more days, so might find some other comments to share, but feedback appreciated.

    Thanks,
    Seb
    #1
  2. Fragup
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    Fragup Member

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    I think a lot of the list of niggles you have with the new A3 above could be overcome, if you loved the car and wanted to buy one.
    As you said you are comparing a SE to an old Sport, a few things above might compare more favourably with a like for like comparison and ticking a few options, plus spending a bit more time adjusting settings on the car, as its surprising how many things can be set up differently to suite you . On sport as you had before, you get upgraded steering wheel (still more controls on it though) and upgraded climate controls (plus lots more). The tech pack option with upgraded screen and more artwork etc. would be a good option for you. Storage pack would be another option, so I think you could get around most things on you list if you liked the car and wanted to, but I think you'll find the over whelming consensus on here is they love the new version, but there is normally something that doesn't suite everybody.
    #2
  3. hittchy
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    hittchy Member

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    Did you take some time to read the handbook? After 4 months and 5000 miles, I agree on the mirrors and the storage. I'd add in tyre noise being louder. For all the other points, I couldn't agree less! Many of the points you mention are available - e.g. Mileage display, dual air con linking. You just need to read the manual.

    I had 3 8Ps - a Sport, an S-Line and an S3. The 8V is a far better car. In fact, if I was changing cars today, I'd order another which is very rare for me as I like a change.

    I assume you didn't have stop-start on your 8P? The 8V is a real step up from Audi's previous offerings. On my A4 it was a bit slow and jerky. However, on the 8V it's instant.

    Each to their own, but with no many negatives, you're probably better off looking elsewhere. The things you dislike tend to be the things that most owners love. Maybe it's just not the car for you. :redface:
    #3
  4. mjcourtney
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    mjcourtney Active Member

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    I would agree about the LEDs for engine temperature and fuel gauge, give me analogue dials any day! The Sat Nav is good, I've come from using a standalone Garmin and to be honest the Audi system is more flexible and has a big benefit of being integrated into the car. You can link the dual air con by holding down the Auto button for approx 3 seconds.

    The weight of the steering is adjustable with Drive Select (standard on Sport / S-line), default setting is very light. I leave mine in Dynamic as I prefer the heavier feel. Better MP3 support (artists etc) is available on the Tech Pack (£1,500 option mind you), this also gives you a larger and higher res screen. You can prevent the screen from popping up by turning off the MMI system before you turn off the car by holding the power button for 2 seconds.

    The radio controls have been simplified, you can nudge the small volume control left or right to skip / scan through albums and tracks. Essentially you can overcome most of your niggles by changing the settings on the car, there are many many many different options to play with!

    At the end of the day if you don't like the over-all lay out of the dash (some people won't like all the controls being in front of the gear lever) then it might be best to look at other cars, interior design can be a very personal thing.
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  5. cemerson
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    cemerson Active Member

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    Sounds identical to the 8P I used to drive then, and the Q3 I drove a few months ago briefly. Has this actually changed?
    #5
  6. mjcourtney
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    mjcourtney Active Member

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    It is the same as the 8P, hence I found it straight away! I like to have them linked when it's just me in the car.
    #6
  7. dieseldoug
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    dieseldoug Member

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    Quiet simple if you don't like it don't buy it, seems there are a lot of people want to slate the 8V. Everyone has their opinion on the car but I believe at present Audi have the Market on the A3 size of cars
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  8. PhilConran
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    PhilConran New Member

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    2k miles and 2 months of ownership of a 2.0 tdi Sport SB with SE suspension, the only thing I find a niggle is the lack of storage space and a struggle to get the ongoing average above 50mpg. Nowhere for coins, sunglasses, camera's etc which my previous Honda Accord had in abundance. But otherwise, it's a beautiful car to own (lease!). And I really can't complain at the average MPG given that most of it is short journeys at the moment. Sooo quiet, terrific design touches, especially with the electronics, instant power when you need it. And the Active Lane Assist even steers the car for me while I have a nap......
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  9. sebtomato
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    sebtomato Member

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    On the car I have, you can indeed link the two air con buttons by holding "auto" like before. HOWEVER, as soon as you touch the right/driver temperature control, the controls are unlinked. Exactly the reverse as before (buttons were unlinked when the passenger was changing temperature), or maybe it's still set for left-hand drivers. It makes no sense.
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  10. sebtomato
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    sebtomato Member

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    Thank you, I thought I had to buy it since they gave me a car on loan for a few days. I am relieved now!
    #10
  11. cemerson
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    cemerson Active Member

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    Interesting - could be an actual problem with the car then as this makes no sense
    #11
  12. mjcourtney
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    mjcourtney Active Member

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    That does sound like it's been set up for the other side of the road! On mine once you've linked them they stay linked even after adjusting the drivers side, and then unlink when the passenger adjusts theirs.
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  13. sebtomato
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    sebtomato Member

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    Yes, that's the behaviour of my own car. I couldn't find the way to link on the loan car since everytime I was touching the driver dial, it would get unlinked. I am glad to know that it's not expected to be that way on the new A3.
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  14. sebtomato
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    sebtomato Member

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    Thanks. Unfortunately, the car on loan is an SE, so does not seem to have Drive Select. I am not sure why they would give people an SE as a loan car to be honest. Last loan car I had from Audi was an S-line.

    Regarding the Tech pack, the price is really ridiculous, considering the actual price to them of getting a better screen (probably £20), a 40GB hard drive (£10) and unlocking some of the features.
    #14
  15. cemerson
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    cemerson Active Member

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    plus the MMI touch pad, the sat nav (including the 3D view you wanted I believe) so there's licensing costs there. Also, if you are only looking at the value of the extras as just the cost of the components, you are really looking at it the wrong way!
    #15
  16. sebtomato
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    sebtomato Member

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    No, I didn't. I think it's quite noticeable on the diesel engine (might work better on a petrol engine), but at least, braking lightly does not stop the engine.
    #16
  17. sebtomato
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    sebtomato Member

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    The 3D view is probably just disabled on the standard device. Not sure about licensing cost compared to the SD card sat nav. The MMI touch pad is probably another £20, so I reckon they sell something £1000 on top of the SD card version, probably costing them £100. I also know that my 5 inch Tomtom live device worth £200 is far superior, and that's my main issue: spending £1000 in something less good than a £200 device.
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  18. cemerson
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    cemerson Active Member

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    If you are just talking about the sat nav, but you aren't. Nor are you talking about the sum of components still, or even components + licensing. Audi charge a premium for options, it's a lot of how they make their money. Luckily though, they are optional, so you don't have to have them if you don't want to pay for them!
    #18
  19. sebtomato
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    sebtomato Member

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    Well, the tech pack is about £1000 on top of the SD card sat nav, and this already has licensing for maps etc, so I think you pay around £1000 for something worth £100 in term of hardware upgrade. Even by Audi standards, that's a bit steep!
    If they were selling it for £250, they would still make a decent margin and probably a lot more profits, since more people would get it.
    #19
  20. cemerson
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    cemerson Active Member

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    How do you know they use the same licensing? The sat navs are different
    #20
  21. RossR
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    RossR Member

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    The tech pack also has a different CPU/GPU to drive the fancy graphics and better voice recognition.
    The development cost is probably much higher than you imagine, especially with the MMI interacting in complex ways with safety critical systems. IEC 61508 is expensive to implement.
    Car manufacturers always have high margins on options though and Audi is perhaps worse for this than others.
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  22. sebtomato
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    sebtomato Member

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    On the basis that a standalone device starts at around £50, I don't really see licensing explaining the high cost.
    #22
  23. A3sportbackMark
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    A3sportbackMark Member

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    It may only cost Audi a fraction of the selling price to produce the teck pack, however, there will be a finite time for Audi to sell it before technology moves on. From a business perspective, Audi will have to sell so many units over a set period of time to recupe their administration, development and production costs and that's why the tech pack is the price it is. They will have done there homework and know from experience that people will buy this product, and some people will not.

    I agree, it does seem an excessive price for what it is, but human nature shows us that people always want the latest technology and the 1st to have that technology.

    I think Audi do a great job in providing and developing all types of technology, long live "vorsprung durch technik"!

    And where to the profits from this go?...probably to develop the next technology we will see in the future.
    Last edited: Jul 26, 2013
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  24. cemerson
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    cemerson Active Member

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    That raises a good point as well - what do you think the volumes sold of standalone devices vs entire cars, and not only entire cars, but cars with that option chosen? Audi have to recoup all the R&D cost over orders of magnitude less sales than (eg) TomTom
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  25. sebtomato
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    sebtomato Member

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    Audi does not make those units: they are bought from third-party suppliers (even though the "skinning" may look different), the same way as tyres or most of the electronic components of the car. If you think Audi R&D came up with S-tronic, ESP, ABS, lane assist, parking sensors, distance control etc, you are mistaken. They would however be responsible for the engines and chassis.

    Granted, the number of units of car sat nav sold is going to be much lower than standalone sat navs, hence the higher cost, but I think the option price is just ridiculous, and a bit of an insult for people buying cars already worth a lot of money. I wish they would at least do a partnership with Tomtom (as some other manufacturers have done) and have top of the range functionlity for top prices.

    And BTW, if they make say £900 profit on that option, then maybe £50 will go back in R&D, and £850 will go back the shareholders.
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  26. sebtomato
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    sebtomato Member

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    I don't think they have: not many people are going to spend £1500 for a slighly improved version, whereas at £300 (and still making a profit), the volume would be much higher.

    In the UK, they don't really sell "full loaded" cars with many options included (for instance, a "S-line" with tech pack etc): a large portion of buyers of A3 will be company buyers, leasing their car. Depreciation on options is 100% as opposed to when it's part of the standard package, so expensive to buy. This shows for instance that they haven't done their homework, don't understand the profile of their UK buyers, and therefore don't understand what would be better for them...

    The tech pack for a person retaining the car for 3 years would cost about £40 a month to that person (100% depreciation over three years). The same tech pack included in an S-line spec for instance would cost £15 per month...
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  27. cemerson
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    cemerson Active Member

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    Just don't buy it then! God forbid that a business should try and make a bit of money for its shareholders!
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  28. h5djr
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    h5djr Active Member

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    A3s for the UK market come with a lot more as standard when compared with Audi's home market of Germany. This is mainly down to Audi UK wanting a lot of options as standard because a high percentage are sold as company cars. In Germany most people buy their own cars and therefore add and only pay for whichever options are important to them. In the UK we have to pay for a lot of the options whether we want them or not.

    As far as Audi not doing there homework, at the moment they seem to be able to sell as many A3s as they can or want to make which is why there is a long waiting list. If they were to open new factories and built a lot more they would become a mass market car and loose some of their appeal.
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  29. Gordo77
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    Gordo77 Member

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    I think you need to hold the Auto air con button for 3 seconds to "link" driver and passenger temperatures. Pressing it briefly enables or disabled the special "eco" mode, I think.

    It sounds like you are looking for reasons and justifications NOT to buy the car, and almost argue that the old model is better. I never owned or had even driven the previous model so can't comment on the whole whether its better or not. I know that the new A3 is possibly the best all round car that I've owned and driven.
    #29
  30. markjames
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    The dealer showed me how to link. I can't remember the button names off the top of my head, but you need to press 'auto' and the similar button on the passenger side together. This links them!
    #30
  31. sebtomato
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    sebtomato Member

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    Yes, pressing auto for a few seconds should link the two temperature buttons. It was the same on previous model. However, on my loan car, it seems to be set-up in reverse or left-hand drive.
    #31
  32. sebtomato
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    sebtomato Member

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    I just like objectivity, and don't like people who can't find anything wrong with something they have bought, just because they need to justify their spend. The new model is surely better in many respects, including driving. However, it's a bit a step backward in a few areas, such as storage. I will end up buying it, but wanted to know if people had noted the same drawbacks.

    I don't also like when they artificially restrict a model: the 3D mode in sat nav navigation, and the browsing of MP3 by album or artists should come as standard, does not require faster hardware or bigger screens. I am going to buy a £27,000 car, and I can only browse MP3s by folder...Will also have to pay £70 to have lights in the windscreen sun shades. I think there is premium and then there is milking customers.
    #32
  33. Gordo77
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    Gordo77 Member

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    Maybe an Audi is not for you?

    I also believe that people who set out to find something wrong or to look for faults are in general quite negative. Everything is relative... yes other manufacturers might do some things better. If you are looking for the ideal car, with all the options you want and work exactly as you want and all at the ideal price, then I wish you the best of luck! ;)
    #33
  34. jet_andy
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    jet_andy Member

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    But maybe other people don't want what you want - everyone has different priorities as to what options are important and what aren't. Why be forced to pay for something you don't want or need by making it standard?

    The amount of options and combinations available these days is tremendous, and by making them 'optional' it gives people the choice to tailor their car to how they want it.
    #34
  35. hittchy
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    hittchy Member

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    I'm pretty sure if you plug in an iPod it'll browse that way. Sat Nav is an optional extra on most cars in this class. With Audi you get two options. The SD navigation at £500 is a bargain as far as I'm concerned when these systems used to command a £2k premium just a few years ago.


    I shortlisted a BMW 320d M-Sport when I ordered my A3. Basic spec went to £35k. Then when comparing like for like with Mercedes and Audi, it had no Xenons (£1000) or even split rear seats (£300). Now that's milking...
    #35
  36. hittchy
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    hittchy Member

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    I guess the crux of this is

    a) You don't have to buy it. The car is perfectly functional without the nav. Just use a TomTom if you prefer it.
    b) Audi will have adopted their own perfectly logical business model which works for them.

    Think of it this way. Let's assume 10% of new A3s are fitted with the tech pack.

    Scenario A: they're selling the nav at £1500 and making £1300 profit.
    Scenario B: they sell it at £300 and make £100 profit.

    They need 13 times more cars fitted with nav to make the same amount profit. As 10% of cars are already taking up the tech pack, this wouldn't be possible. Yes, it's simplistic but they've probably played with loads of permutations and decided that £1500 is the most profitable price point. There will be some buyers happy to pay and others that are unhappy. However, they have the choice. Personally, I'd pay about £800 for the tech pack... hence why I don't have it in my car. It's just not worth £1500 to me (or even £1000 when it was on offer at the time of my order).

    There are millions of people out there that think spending £25k on a car is insane. ;)
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  37. Daveotto
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    Daveotto Member

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    including the Mrs, cost me a new kitchen on top of the car price and a half decent holiday!!!!!
    #37
  38. hittchy
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    hittchy Member

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    Owch!

    Should've lied about the price. ;)
    #38
  39. Daveotto
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    Daveotto Member

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    I did that's why only a half decent holiday :think:
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  40. sebtomato
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    sebtomato Member

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    Good point, thanks. I will try that, and it may work better than storing MP3 on the SD card.


    Sorry, but something costing £2,000 before and now down to £500 does not make it a bargain, when it's still inferior in functionality from a £100 device. To me, it would be a bargain if it was costing less than something with better functionality (and given that it comes with a car worth £20K already, it should be discounted rather than the other way round).

    I think they should just have a slot in the glove compartment where you can insert a PC card/box, and therefore have the functionality you want on the built-in screen. We would then see who buys the Audi module at £500... It would also allow for frequent updates of the software and hardware.

    The EU should actually force car manufacturer to implement this, in the same way they force mobile phone makers to have a standard micro USB port.
    Last edited: Jul 31, 2013
    #40

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