Best In-Car Connectivity — under £25,000: Audi A3 2016
The latest edition of Audi’s premium hatchback does exactly what we’ve been asking car manufacturers do for years: offer the same features across the whole range, not just in the most expensive models.
It has both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto on offer as standard across the range – an unusual move, as this is something manufacturers usually charge extra for. In fact, Audi A3 customers now no longer need to specify the costly in-car satnav at all. They can simply plug in their smartphone and use that to get access to maps and apps on the car’s centre console screen.
There’s an impressive range of optional extras, too. Our favourites are the novel Audi phone box – which provides Qi wireless charging and automatic pairing with the car’s hands-free system – and Audi Connect, which adds 4G hotspot connectivity within the cabin and access to a range of Audi-specific online services.
The Audi doesn’t neglect the basics, though, offering the full range of ports and connections, from a pair of SD cards, two USB sockets and a 3.5mm aux input, to a CD player to keep happy those with old-school leanings.
Running the Audi close is Ford’s latest and greatest infotainment system, SYNC 3, which we saw make its debut earlier this year at the CES technology show in Las Vegas.
With SYNC 3, Ford has radically overhauled the way its cars connect with owners’ smartphones, with support for both Android Auto and Apple CarPlay adding to Ford’s existing AppLink system, which lets you use compatible apps on the centre console screen. SYNC can piggyback off your smartphone’s Wi-Fi to provide internet connectivity, and call emergency services for you if there’s been an accident, too.
It’s the CarPlay and Android Auto integration that impressed us most about SYNC 3, however, with a much more intuitive way of switching between the SYNC 3 interface and the Google and Apple front-end than any other car we tested.