Through the provider, AT&T, data plans will offer speedy 4G LTE service through AT&T, at prices of just $99 for six months or $499 for 30 months. Those two rates shake out to less than $17 per month, and they're within pennies of each other on a monthly basis.
Audi is officially the first automaker to offer 4G LTE speeds (typically 5-10 times faster than 3G on a throughput basis) in the car, although GM is also in the process of adding it to its vehicles—with many GM models slated to get it by the end of the year.
Quicker maps, more features, tethering potential
In the 2015 Audi A3, the faster connection will allow better responsiveness when using the Google Earth and Street View features that are included in Audi's navigation system, plus new integrated picture navigation, news headline-reading, social-media alerts, and Web radio. As well, the system allows you to share the connection with up to eight devices, essentially using the vehicle as a wifi hotspot.
But don't rush to have too many of your passengers and family members planning to tether their tablets, phones, and game consoles; that's because data caps for those two plans are just 5 gigabytes and 30 GB, respectively. Yes, that's for the entire plan duration, not just per month. Audi says that customers can get e-mail alerts as they approach those caps, and it's likely that overage charges would apply to heavier use.
As you might note, the key difference is that the longer term allows more flexibility—as well as an extra 5 GB over the term.
Replacing a slower T-Mobile 3G service
Under the previous (and still current, for some of the lineup) Audi Connect service, owners get T-Mobile 3G service for $30 a month, or $450 up front for 30 months ($15/mo.).
That service has no official data cap, although we observed with our extended test-drive of an Audi Allroad last year that in ideal conditions that connection was barely quick enough to stream Netflix in its lowest-resolution setting on a tethered laptop—and that was when we weren't tapping into any of the vehicle's built-in services.
Owners who have other devices on AT&T plans might save additional money by putting their Audi data connection alongside their other devices as part of a Mobile Share data plan.
The 2015 Audi A3 is just the first; Audi plans to roll the upgraded connectivity out to all of its models as they're refreshed or redesigned.