Featured by Inside Line: There is a ton of tech in our Audi A8L — so much that we could blog about its myriad features incessantly (as we have, and will), and so much that we had forgotten to set up the WiFi network. It’s not like Audi is alone in offering an in-car WiFi router, but I love the idea of having this feature in the car, and getting it working was my first order of business. Yet, I’m not sure it’s something I’d use every day. Indeed, the Google Map data that’s part of the WiFi service is cool, but since I’m usually driving, and not sitting in the backseat with an iPad using Facebook, I’m not realizing the full benefits of the WiFi.
Where WiFi really becomes useful, in my opinion, is when you’re out on the road and need a signal strengthener for your smartphone or, more important, when you need to blog and don’t feel like carting your laptop into Starbucks. Audi has chosen T-Mobile (aka, Deutsche Telekom) as its exclusive provider, and despite that company’s so-so coverage in the U.S., it’s still far better than nothing. During the cross-country barbecue adventures of Scott and Scott, their phones were picking up the Audi’s WiFi signal, but they were unable to connect. Upon their return, we realized we had spaced and forgotten to insert the SIM card, which explains this “SIM card no good” display…
Straightening out that issue was as simple as inserting the SIM card in its designated slot under the nav screen. Here you can also see the SD card ports, which are one means of transferring music to the A8’s 20GB hard drive. Although Audi’s MMI system is probably the most straightforward and user-friendly of its kind, the WiFi password (which had already been entered and saved in the car before we got it), is a little bit hidden in the Telephone menu. Here’s the sequence of steps in photos (I shot these in the safety and comfort of the garage, so that’s why the car has no 3G service). Probably the best thing about the process is the breadcrumbing at the top of the display — you never get lost in MMI. Audi provides a free data plan for the first six months. It’s yet to be decided who will pay the bill once that trial period is up.