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4T : Reviews & Road Tests

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19 February 2009


2189-3423 Miles



Several months with the Audi S5 haven’t eroded the enjoyment of the ownership experience one bit. Every push of the starter button, every stroll from the supermarket to the car’s parking space back at home, every bend and every onramp remind us how truly loveable this car is. With time though, we have grown accustomed to the car and, as is becoming a ritual with Audis in the Fourtitude garage, it was about time to hook up the trusty Ross-Tech VCDS Scanner Tool (known better as a VAG-com) for a few tailored changes to the car’s settings. During this time, we also made a few other changes in the electronic arena with the addition of some optional XM Satellite radio channels to our Sirius subscription and the integration of a new iPhone from Apple.



Ross-Tech VCDS

The name may have changed, but the basic idea remains. The Ross-Tech VCDS is a great way to interact with your Audi and adjust personal settings beyond the basics afforded via Audi’s MMI system.



Novices should note, however, that you can do more harm than good here if you don’t know what you’re doing, and some settings may not be legal on the roads where you are. We highly recommend consulting with the crew at Ross-Tech (and checking your local laws) before making any changes to your vehicle. We can’t even claim that all changes made to our S5 are 100 percent compliant with the laws where you reside.



Lawyer-appeasing warnings aside, we’re happy to report that the new B8 architecture on which the S5 is based is an even better candidate for VCDS tweaks than past cars we’ve “adjusted” as there are even more options available to change. As soon as the S5 arrived in our garage, we began searching Ross-Tech’s website and checking in with other S5 owners who’d explored the car’s capabilities already. What we found were three basic changes that would make a big difference: enabling the key fob’s remote window open/close feature, activating a hidden lap timer that RS 4 owners will likely be familiar with, and changing the LED lighting behavior.





Unlike earlier Audis, where changing settings was done with relatively simple coding (and there weren’t so many options to change), all new codes have to be changed via “Long Coding”. Based on the mix of options packages on various cars, your original coding is most likely different than what we show below. Because of this, it is imperative to use the “Long Coding Helper”, a tool that breaks down each bit of code and shows you what can be enabled or disabled on your car; all you have to do is click the check box on what you want to enable. Long Coding Helper is built into all the latest versions of the VCDS, so be sure to upgrade if you are not using VCDS release 805 or later.



Before you dive head first into changing the programming on your car, there are a few basics that should be understood. In the example below, “46” is the module number for Central Convience, 17 is for Instruments, etc. All the modules are listed under the “Common” section within the VCDS, so you won’t have to go into any of the other menus to find the modules. After you enter the module you wish to recode, you then click the “Coding” button, and then “Long Coding Helper”. The coding is hexadecimal (0 – F, base 16), and as with all binary-based coding, the first digit on the left is notated as bit zero, not one. That is why in the example below we are changing the bit in what would normally be the sixth position, but it is actually bit five. Since all coding is specific to your vehicle, it is imperative that you copy down your original codes and keep them in a safe place, just in case the new coding isn’t accepted by your vehicle,, or if you need to revert back to the original settings. With that said, in the case of our particular S5, the coding below enabled each of the features listed:



46-Central Conv. (Central Convenience): – Enables window features (bit 5 changed)

Old: 0106029A007A444500B000

New: 0106069A007A444500B000



As with other Audis we’ve set up in the past with VCDS, this activates functionality of the close-and-open feature of the windows and the close function of the S5’s Open Sky sunroof via the car’s key fob. This operates just as the key-in-the-door function. Hold the lock button down after locking the car and the windows and sunroof will close. Hold the unlock button down after unlocking the car and the windows will open – very handy on a hot day. Just as with holding the key in the door, the windows stop movement when you stop pressing the button and the sunroof functionality happens after the windows close.





17-Instruments: – Enables Lap Timer (bit 3 changed)

Old: 8B1501003B00D705020000

New: 8B1D01003B00D705020000



There is a dormant lap timer programmed into every B8 car that functions just as the one in the B7 RS 4. Activation and control is all done via the stalk that controls the MFA. This is a cool feature to play with, but its functionality doesn’t provide optimum control while you’re sliding across the finish line with two white-knuckled hands on the steering wheel.



We assume consulting an RS 4 manual can tell you full official functionality of the lap timer, but here are some basics: You can toggle in to the lap timer function on your instrument cluster’s MFA as you would to the various types of readouts already available by using the reset button. The lap timer is labeled “Lap Timer”, so there’s no mistaking it. The upper control button on the stalk starts time and finishes the lap, while the lower button splits time or pauses the system. The timer will record up to 99 laps.



09-Cent. Elect. (Central Electronics): – Keeps LEDs on with turn signals (bit 6 changed)

Old: 26001091063CAF311E00080300003D3D0F9C93C800010161000000

New: 26001011063CAF311E00080300003D3D0F9C93C800010161000000



You may have noticed American Audis wink their LED driving lights when the turn signal is in use. This next change sets the car to the European spec, enabling the LEDs to stay on while the turn signal is activated.



Plus LEDs at full brightness w/ parking lights:

26001015063CAF311E00080300003D3D0F9C93C800010161000000



Another change from American to European spec is the brightness of the LEDs when only parking lights are activated. This change takes the LEDs to full brightness while only the parking lights are in use.



Plus Disable Amber Side Markers:

26001015063CAF311E00000300003D3D0F9C93C800010161000000



This is for the aesthetic freaks. If you’re not a fan of amber lights, this change deactivates the amber side markers in the headlights when headlights are in use.





Sirius Satellite Radio

You may have noticed some changes recently with your Sirius-equipped Audi. With the merger finalized between Sirius and XM satellite radio services, some major programming changes took place. Stations like E! and Maxim were cancelled, and some like Backspin were first canned and then resurrected after sufficient customer complaint. The cancellation of some of our favorite stations didn’t have us terribly enthused, but one benefit to the merge and purge was the addition of select XM stations available (at an extra charge) on Sirius.



We went for the upgrade, and several new stations were added to our S5’s factory radio. These included:



Oprah & Friends (195) – Oprah & Friends

XMPR (196) – XM Public Radio

Virus (197) – Opie & Anthony / Ron & Fez

XM Play-By-Play (210-220) – Play-by-Play Sports Channels Including NBA, NHL, IRL, College Sports and more.

NHL Home Ice (208) – 24/7 Hockey Talk and Play-by-Play

PGA Tour Network (209) – Live Coverage and Golf Talk



Once activated, all of the new channels appear in chronological order when in the full listing of satellite radio channels. Being highest numerically, they’re at the bottom of the list on the display. The XM channels are easily noted by the underscore characters following each channel name and the lack of information presented in the genre column. This can be a bit confusing in the lower Play-by-Play channels as the only information given is the number. However, the added channel content is the real windfall here and we’re happy to have the added selection, especially on long drives.





iPhone Integration

Integrating the new iPhone from Apple with the S5’s Bluetooth system was straightforward. The two systems paired immediately, and the car has full functionality of phone book, recent calls, etc. via the MFA. The only downside of using the iPhone to make calls with the S5 is a loud static noise experienced intermittently but often when making calls.



If you plan on using the iPhone for its iPod functionality, make sure to check your cable. We have one of the older cables, though Audi tells us there is a newer one with a blue band around it that makes the iPhone compatible for music use via the optional Audi Music Interface. We have not yet been able to check compatibility with a new cable but will report on our findings just as soon as we have.



Minor Impressions of 2G MMI

You may have recently caught our interview with Audi of America product planning boss Filip Brabec on the subject of 3G MMI. That new system is expected to hit when 2010 models start showing up next fall. For now, our car has the 2G system as seen in the A6, Q7 and A8 models. This fiber-optic MOST-based system is impressive in many ways, though we miss functions like the “Next 3 Turns” listing in navigation that was part of the RNSE system found in the R8, A3, TT and B7 A4 variants. We’ve seen first hand that this function returns for the 3G system – a welcomed change.



Another RNSE function we hope will make a comeback is the single roll action of the multi-function steering wheel. On RNSE cars, you simply need to roll down a line on a listing of channel favorites or a song on an iPod playlist and they selection is made. On a 2G MMI car like our S5, you must roll on the selection and depress the roller to make the same action happen. Functionally, the difference is minimal, but our preference is for the less distractive single action selection.



Up Next…

With snow on the ground, winter tires are a must.







MORE INFORMATION:

4 Season S5 Main Page




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