Are you a carless urbanite but you want to go on a trip this weekend? Don’t want to drive a nondescript rental sedan with dried gum stuck to the seat? It might be time to step up to a luxury lifestyle mobility service like the one from our partner, Audi.
Check out this CNET review of Audi on demand to take the service for a virtual spin and see if cars on demand could be right mobility solution for you. Or at least see if it can keep you off the bus this weekend.
City dwellers who commute on public transit often find that the cost of keeping a car outweighs the benefits. But what to do if you want to get away for the weekend? I gave Audi on Demand, one of several car rental services run by automakers, a try.
Audi on Demand is a new service being tested in San Francisco. The service lets people make a reservation with its app, choosing from a wide variety of Audi models, ranging from an A3 sedan to an R8 super sports car.
Unlike a typical car rental service, an Audi on Demand concierge brings the car to your location, and picks it up from anywhere in the service area.
Planning for a weekend rental, I fired up the Audi on Demand app on a Wednesday and began the reservation process. While I had wanted the Q3 compact SUV model, it wasn’t available for the dates I set, so I settled for the slightly larger Q5.
After I selected my start and end dates, the app let me choose whether to pick up the car from the Audi on Demand garage or have a concierge bring it to me. At no cost difference, I chose the latter. Conveniently, the app also let me save the drop-off and pickup times to my calendar.
On Friday afternoon I get a text message that my car is waiting at the curb, outside my office. The concierge confirms my identity and shows me previously logged damage to the car, such as a wheel scrape and a few scratches on the rear bumper. He then walks me through the Q5’s operation and electronics, helping me pair my phone with the car’s hands-free Bluetooth system.
Audi included an iPhone charging cable plugged into the car’s USB port, and preloaded its entertainment hard drive with a variety of music, all the better to show off the Q5’s Bang & Olufsen audio system. The concierge also tells me I could request a bike rack or other gear at no charge.
I’m impressed by this Q5, a high-trim model featuring a full navigation system and cabin tech, along with the aforementioned high-end audio system. As Audi has a vested interest in renters liking its cars, it doesn’t stint on the options.
I spend the weekend driving the Q5, and I have no complaints. It’s a much better car than I would get from a typical rental service.
On Monday morning, a text message tells me that an Audi concierge is waiting at the curbside location I had specified. I bring the car around and he does a damage check. Fortunately, I hadn’t hit anything over the weekend. I also have not topped off the tank, but Audi on Demand will only charge me the per-gallon market rate to fill it up. The concierge drives off with the Q5 and I’m done.