April 15, 2024


With the future looking to be served by all-electric vehicles that have fewer moving parts that don’t have to be serviced as often, automakers have been looking for other sources of revenue. One such avenue leads straight to hell: subscription-based features. Automakers will build vehicles with features, lock those features behind software, and then force you to pay for it. Audi, which has already been testing subscription-based feature waters, is now diving right in with its refreshed A3 for European buyers.

2025 Audi A3 Allstreet

2025 Audi A3 Allstreet
Image: Audi

Audi has refreshed its compact A3 for 2025, giving it a new fascia, as well as an all-new, tall-ish hatchback model called the A3 Allstreet. The bigger news, though, is the A3’s features, and how Audi wants buyers to pay for them.

In its release for the A3, Audi attempts to soften the blow by calling it subscriptions “functions on demand” and using terms like “digital experience,” “customization,” and “flexibility” as a way to conveniently gloss over the fact that buyers will have to spend yet more money to use built-in parts of its car.

2025 Audi A3 Allstreet interior

2025 Audi A3 Allstreet interior
Image: Audi

Audi loading up on subscriptions is bad, but the kinds of features that Audi is locking behind a paywall only add insult to injury, because they’re features that would otherwise be considered standard components of a car, or features that could be purchased through a package or upgrade in trim level.

If you want to access features like dual-zone climate control, adaptive cruise control, or high beam headlight assist, you’ll have to pay a subscription fee. If you want to use Apple CarPlay or Android Auto, you’ll have to pay to upgrade the entire infotainment system to unlock smartphone integration. Again, these are the kinds of features that other automakers already offer, either as included in the base model or available as a one-time package add-on purchase.

Subscriptions can come in one- to six-month terms; if you know you want a technology for a longer amount of time, you can subscribe on one- to three-year terms. Audi will also allow you to pay outright to permanently unlock certain features — though it is a bit annoying to have to pay ever more money to use features that your car was built with.

And the worst part of it all? You can’t even subscribe to these features if you don’t pay extra for Audi’s MMI Navigation system, as Motor1 pointed out. That system then gives you access to Audi’s app store, where you can browse all your feature options. Yes, that means you’ll not only have to subscribe to features, but you’ll have to pay money to access the ability to subscribe.

Thankfully, this Audi A3 subscription frenzy is still limited to the European market. It is currently unclear if Audi plans to implement similar subscription systems for North American buyers; we’ve reached out to Audi for comment and will update this post when it replies.

This article originally appeared on Jalopnik.



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