Audi A3 Sportback 1.4 TFSI 122 Sport
Week ending December 20
Driven this week 170 miles
The Daily Express's prediction of '100 days of snow' hasn't quite materialised, but there's no denying that the mornings and evenings have definitely turned a bit more chilly in the run-up to Christmas. Thank goodness, then, that I specced the heated seats in the A3 Sportback - because they've been doing a great job of keeping me cosy during my runs to and from work.
Unlike many features on the Audi, heated front seats aren't part of any of the 'options packs', which means you have to make a conscious decision that having a warm bum and lower back is well worth the princely sum of £260. Right now, I wouldn't hear a word against the idea.
I'm glad, too, that the Sport trim level brings more supportive front seats, but stops short of full leather trim, which would be particularly icy in the current conditions. The Sports seats' cloth finish isn't that cool to start with, so I just stick the heater on 'medium' setting and things get toasty within 60 seconds of leaving my house. Perfect.
Week ending December 13
Driven this week 100 miles
Car manufacturers must hate the mobile phone industry. The recognised period with a new car is three years, after all, yet these days you're being short-changed if you end up on a mobile phone deal lasting more than 18 months; many, in fact, allow you to change your handset every year. How on earth can car makers keep up on the technology and connectivity front?
I've just moved from a Nexus 4 to a Nexus 5, and while both are based on the Android operating system, I have noticed a few changes in the A3 Sportback's infotainment set-up. Most encouragingly, the system appears to now offer me the chance to preview text messages via Bluetooth. I'm not for reading them in full, but when a single line of information can be buzzed through the central screen as easily as a sat-nav instruction, it seems like a useful feature.
The Nexus 5 has already upgraded itself, though - and sure enough, the SMS functionality appears to flash on and off sporadically. Perhaps more alarmingly, so does the Bluetooth music connection. I've got a long journey planned in the car next week; I'll report back on whether it's a temporary glitch or a genuine disaster.
Week ending December 6
Driven this week 115 miles
Our A3 Sportback has been in the wars again. The nearside front alloy had already taken a fair old whack against a kerb (multiple scuffs, I'd say) but the other day someone did a proper job on it, to the point where the tyre itself decided to lose pressure.
It was hardly surprising, given that there was an inch-long slice in the sidewall - and that meant that a simple repair was out of the question.
I hunted around on the web for a keenly priced mobile fitter who had one of the A3's Pirellis in stock and came up with Grippy, which had a slick website and was the thick end of £20 cheaper than the mainstream rivals. I booked a slot that was available, got the email confirmation and waited.
On the morning of the appointment, though, I got an apologetic call from Grippy to tell me that the tyre hadn't turned up at its suppliers, so the slot would have to be rescheduled. This wasn't good enough for me, so I ended up at an ATS Euromaster branch not far from our offices. I paid around £140, including balancing and disposing of the old rubber, and while the price stung a little, I was more impressed with the clean waiting area and free wifi.
Will I give Grippy another chance some day? Perhaps. Will I be less nervous about visiting an ATS in future? Certainly.