|February 8, 2009
Long Term Update: 2009 Audi A5 3.2 quattro S-line - iPod Integration
We decided early on that driving a new car meant having "new car amenities". Our Long Term A5 is pretty well stocked, indeed, but we were missing one accessory to take advantage of the B&O sound system - the ability to jack in our iPod.
As with many new Audis our car came pre-wired and ready for the iPod with the exception of the requisite cable. In a perfect world the cable is the glove box on delivery of the vehicle, only Audi knows that as ubiquitous as the iPod is, it still isn't a must in the car for everybody.
A quick trip to the dealer and $85 later we are in possession of our very own Part # 4F0-051-510-K "Adapterkabel" and literally ready to rock 'n roll.
iPod integration could not be easier, either the physical connection or subsequent operation. We opened the glove box, snapped the cable into place inside and then hooked it to our iPod at which time the Audi rings appeared on the display. Then, using the CD/AUX button on the center console, we accessed the iPod via the MMI system. The iPod will charge while in its glove box cradle and we have access to our entire music library.
The typical interface is setup showing artists in alphabetical order. The user dials up or down the desired artist, hits the center button and can drill further into each artist by album or by all songs. At that point it is just a matter of selecting a song, while all the song control buttons work similar to a CD (fast forward, reverse, advance, pause, etc.)
Speaking of the aforementioned B&O system it is natural to wonder how MP3s perform compared to, say, Satellite Radio or a CD. Well, as most people know, it really comes down to the quality of the source, i.e. the sample rate. Our collection is comprised almost exclusively of VBR (variable bitrate) recordings which have the advantage of producing a better quality-to-space ratio by allocating a higher bitrate to more complex segments of songs and less space allocation to less complex segments.
In any case, the result is that our tunes sound remarkably well. Sure, some of the dynamics that might be present on an all digital CD are slightly compromised - but it is automotive audio after all. We have always subscribed to the point of view that true high fidelity and automotive sounds systems are mutually exclusive and searched for the happy middle ground where our music sounds great even despite road noise, weather and (generally) sub-optimal speaker arrangement.
In actual fact, our iPod gets a fair dose of competition from Sirius Radio in the Long Term A5. Satellite Radio sounds great and has reached an overall level of diversity that we can almost always find something interesting to listen to. Where the iPod integration really shines is when we are in the mood for a specific artist or song and can dial it up immediately with little effort.
With the iPod installed, how is life in general with the Long Term A5? We will be brutally candid and say that upon taking delivery of this vehicle we were infatuated with its look, but had a mental roadblock about the fact that despite looking nearly identical it was not a big-brother S5 with the lusty V8 under the hood. Having recently parted with a B6 S4 in our own personal garage, we had S-car envy.
1900 miles later those thoughts have all but vanquished, and here's why. This A5 is very, very good at doing everything we ask of it. Shift Audi Drive Select to Dynamic and the car stiffens up, shifts aggressively and feels sporty. Facing a long drive prompts Comfort on the ADS and gas mileage soars while we suddenly feel like we are in an A8-esque highway cruiser. Go for a night on the town and the A5 generally gets valet'd out front with the other finer vehicles. Strangers at the airport, at the gas station and at the gym have gone out of their way to either ask what the car is or to simply offer a compliment.
The A5 has grown on us and quickly earned its spot. Stay tuned to learn more about everyday life with a 2009 A5 S-line.