11 Things that have surprised me about my 2017 Audi S3

The Audi S3 has been my daily driver for about 4 months now, and over that time I've learned a lot about the car, including a lot that has surprised me. My model is the 2017 Daytona Gray with the black optics and technology packages. I'm also not really much of a "car guy" (though I'm getting there) so maybe some of these things I've noticed would be obvious to more knowledgable people.

1 - Exterior upgrades were well worth the price. I was originally told that  the black optics package I wanted would add an additional 6 months to my car’s construction time. It didn’t take that long, but even if it had it would have been worth it. I think the black trim looks so much better to the chrome. And the red brake calipers? $400 well spent.

2 - The digital dashboard isn’t very exciting. I’ve basically just figured out the configuration that works for me and stuck with it. I found the live map to be a distraction, and most configuration settings reset at the beginning of each drive so it's not worth messing with most of the time. If I could do it again, I would probably opt not to get the technology package.

3  - Car Play is amazing. I mean, I knew Car Play would be amazing. But I’m a bit surprised about just how amazing it is. Being able to access Siri from the steering wheel, getting directions through the Maps app, controlling music or podcasts through Spotify and Overcast, and having text messages dictated to me. It’s all wonderful. The only downside is that wireless Car Play isn’t supported, so I need to plug my phone in every time I want to use it. For most short trips I usually just keep my phone unplugged and play music through bluetooth.

4 - MMI is Terrible. Every time you need to interact with Audi’s MMI system (which thankfully isn’t very often) it feels like such a chore. It’s fast enough, but the layout is inscrutable. Menu options are often hidden and require you to highlight an item and hit left/right buttons to see what additional options are available. When playing a song, MMI will usually display generic genre artwork instead of actual album artwork. And god help you if you want to use text input.

5 - The head rests can be adjusted forward and backward. I’ve never seen this before. Most American cars will let you move your head rest up or down which I guess can be nice if you have a particularly tall torso? But moving the head rest forward is nice because you can actually move it into a much more supportive and natural position.

6 - You can temporarily drop into manual mode. If you use the paddle shifters while in automatic mode, the S3 will obey your wishes and properly upshift/downshift and display which gear you’ve gone into. After about 10 seconds of not shifting, the car will return to full automatic mode for you. This can be really nice if, say, you want to downshift to pass someone on the highway.

7 - Each driving mode has an “S” option.  Pull back on the gearshift and you get an S (Sport?) mode for your current configuration. When in S mode, the car revs a little bit higher and can give you power a little bit faster. Also when in this mode, the car “blips” when it downshifts, which can actually be a little annoying.

8 - The cruise control stalk is wonderful. I’ve never driven a car with a separate stalk for cruise control before and it’s really nice. Hit the button on the end of the stalk to turn it on, move the stalk up to increase speed, down to decrease speed, or pull it towards you reengage.

9 - There are sidelights. When your headlights are on, if you turn the steering wheel past a certain point, extra lights turn on to illuminate the area  that you’re turning towards. Once you put the wheel straight again the lights turn off again. It’s a subtle effect, and is much nicer than other cars I’ve been in where the headlights pivot every time you turn the steering wheel.

10 - Keyless entry only works on the front doors. If you have the key in your pocket, you can unlock your S3 by walking up to the front doors and putting your hand on the handle. Or you can lock the doors by touching the little finger notch. This functionality doesn't work on the back doors, even though they have the same finger notches as the front handles. According to my dealer this is not a manufacturing defect - it's actually by design. It's just annoying if you spend a good amount of time opening and closing the rear doors like I do for my two year old. Speaking of which... 

11 - My two year old loves this car. Maybe he’s picking up on how much I like it, or maybe it’s just fun being a passenger in the back while I zip around and rev the engine. But whatever the reason, he’s always pointing the S3 out to me and my wife (“Dad’s car!”), and even pointing out other Audis on the street. His vocabulary isn't huge, but "Audi" is definitely a word that he knows.