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Archive for February 23rd, 2018

I like our new car a lot, even though it is more than three years old. Buying a second-hand Audi has consequences, one of them being the difficulty of upgrading the maps and POI data for the navigation system. The 2014 Audi A3 uses an SD-Card to store its data. Unfortunately, there is no simple way to update that card, since it seems to be protected with special encryption and/or certificates, possibly even linked to the VIN. The Audi website offers no solution, not even as a paying option.

The MMI (the car configuration and navigation interface) has no way to add POI manually. That is a shame on a car that is only worth its higher cost if you can run on CNG as much as possible… but finding that fuel type is difficult when the list of gas stations in the car is outdated by four years! Neither has the 2014 MMI the possibility to use Apple Car Play or Android Auto (how hard would it be for Audi to add that option? It would relieve them of the need to continue and support navigation and other apps to “older” cars!).

So I had no choice but to install a smartphone holder to use my phone for all the latest apps with realtime road information. Luckily, I took my time to research the possibilities. I am not keen on suction cups and glue-based solutions, but what are the alternatives?

Well, in the case of a few Audi models (the A3, the TT and the Q2), there is the Clearmounts solution. It’s an aluminum bracket that you can easily mount between the circular vents in the dashboard. The bracket can take all kinds of cradles and holders, as long as whatever you want to use can be fitted to it. I haven’t tried it yet, but I pretty sure the cradle for my Garmin Zumo will fit onto the bracket as well – at least the reverse, mounting Clearmounts holders on the suction cup of the Zumo, works perfectly.

The mounted bracket

I went for the charging cradle, but you’ll get a simple cradle as well as a magnetic holder (with magnets to glue to your phone or slip into its case) in the same package. Mounting is simple and quick, and I like the result. Too bad there is no simple way to hide the charging cable, because that would make the complete setup perfect.

The charging cradle on the bracket

You might think that I have installed the cradle upside-down, but that’s how I prefer it: this way, the release button for the clamp is on the underside of the cradle, forcing me to have a hand below the phone, thus preventing it from falling to the floor. All in all, this is I a solution I can strongly recommend.

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