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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
As my car was one of the first ones ordered after Side Assist became available on the order guide, I've realized that I'm one of the first on these forums to have the feature. Because of that, I owe it to the community to report on what I think of this option.

I've had my car for only a week, but the first thing I did with it was take a long highway trip to bring it back home. That gave me ample opportunity to see how it works, since I had little else to do for 4 hours (you can only tweak the B&O settings for so long).

First of all, it simply works very well. It makes you shake your head in appreciation of modern technology when those lights come on at the mere presence of another car off to your side. It was never fooled by cars in the second lane over, nor did it come on when blowing the doors off some slow-poke in the right lane. It's only supposed to register cars with nearly the same speed as yourself, and that's just what it does.

I don't know that it's quite as necessary on the A5 as on the Q7 it was imported from. The rear-quarter visibility in the A5 isn't terrible to begin with, and I'm sure I could live without it. However, it does add a nice extra level of confirmation. And if it saves me from trading paint with a fellow driver even one time, it's more than paid for itself. At the very least, it can save a lot of unnecessary head turning by letting you know that there's no point in even thinking about a lane change. I'd never allow it to be a negative confirmation; that is, proof that there's no one there. But it is a good positive confirmation when there is some one there.

Now, there are a few things that surprised me a little about the way it works. Not bad things, mind you...just things that differed from my expectations.
  • The LEDs in the mirror are only visible if you're looking for them. They don't really register in your peripheral vision. I thought you'd at least see the driver's mirror lights out the corner of your eye. But even at their brightest, they're still very subtle, and not easily noticed unless you want to notice them. I suppose this is better than I had imagined it, as it becomes very much an "as desired" function. The warning mode (bright flashing lights) is not so subtle.
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  • The area in the car from which the LEDs are visible is very narrow. When I pointed out the lights to my wife in the passenger seat, she couldn't see a thing. Then I noticed that if I leaned over to either side very far, they disappeared rather quickly. Tha'ts not really a problem, just a surprise. I did notice, however, that the narrow focus on the expected driver's position means that I'm on the edge of that region of visibility when seated in my normal position. I'm tall, and the seat is far back. I actually lose some of the lights' full brightnness, since I sit in the area where it starts to fade out. If I lean forward and look at the lights, they get brighter. This is easily made up for by the brightness control in the MMI, but I have to crank it all the way up to regain what I consider to be ample brightness. I don't belive there's any provision to aim the lights, but I'll ask my friendly neighborhood technician (aka my dad).
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  • The distance behind you at which the car decides to warn you of another is a lot closer than I imagined. If you were to trust the lights blindly without using any other visual cues, it's safe to say that you'd never hit anybody in your blind spot because of it. However, you would likely piss off a fair number of people, because the car would allow you to change lanes with only a couple feet to spare. It may not actually be that close, as the back end of the car isn't as far back as it seems. But it sure seems like Side Assist's definition of "safe to move over" is a little agressive. In dense, large-city traffic, this is precisely what you need. But here in the fairly laid-back Midwest, moving over 18 inches off someone's front bumper is likely to cause friction with your fellow motorists. See update below.

All in all, I'm pleased that I was able to add the option. As I continue to use it and gain confidence in its abilities, I'm sure I'll appreciate the blind-spot warning even more. So far, the only problem I really have with it is remembering it's there...you've got to think about the feature to make good use of it.
 

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Excellent write-up, Dave! I'm sure a lot of folks will appreciate you taking the time to share your thoughts (particularly folks trying to decide whether or not they should order Side Assist). In case anyone hasn't seen a pic of the Side Assist LEDs in action, here's a link.
 

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Excellent review Aerodave!

Apparently the narrow field of vision for these lights is a deliberate 'feature' from Audi, so as not to alert the passengers

I'm loving the picture in my mind of you pulling out in front of other motorists with 18" to spare :D

I can't wait to lay my hands on this for myself - I pondered the real value of this against its €530 cost and decided it's never a bad thing to have another safety device like this - From what you say, it seems to be right move.
 

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Great write up of a feature. Thank you. It does provide a nice deal of safety and hard to argue with its function. Equally important is to set the rear view mirrors properly.

However, I did not order it for my A5. I weighed cost of adding more costs vs turning my head when I want to change lanes.

It'll be interesting to see if Audi bumps up the technology package equal to the stand-alone feature cost for '09
 

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Personally I'm not convinced - people still bash their cars even with parking sensors, I don't find lane changing is that difficult on motorways, mirrors are adequate and occasional glance if needed over your shoulder, where I think the blind spot comes more into play, is when moving away when stationary from the side of the road. This option was not available when I ordered, but would not order it now anyway, although I think it depends on how safe a driver you already are I guess?
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 · (Edited)
Oh, I completely agree that mirrors and shoulder checks are (and should always) be adequate. But I'm also not adverse to letting technology help me out if it adds an exra layer of confidence, safety, or convenience.

As an example, cruise control isn't really necessary, a fact to which I can attest having driven a car with broken cruise for the last several years. But it sure makes the long road trips a little better. Speaking of that car, you can make the case that power windows, keyless entry, and automatic climate control aren't strictly necessary, either. Nor is having more power than it takes to accelerate to legal speeds and reach point B.

And ramy7, I notice that your car has been ordered with Hill Hold Assist. I think any argument against Side Assist would be equally applicable to HHA. I've never had a problem rolling back on a hill, and I certainly woudn't require such a feature...but it's nice to know the car is willing to help. Unfortunately, we can't get HHA right now in the US.

In general, when talking about luxury cars, strict necessity is rarely the reson to include a feature. Our cars are full of things that are of questionable necessity, and they're often the things we learn to appreciate most.

That's just my reaction to the "Never needed it before, don't need it now" school of thought that pops up in these kinds of discussions. I'm sure they had the same argument against those new-fangled hydraulic brakes back in the '20s.
 

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I agree I have had my A5 with the side assist for about a month now and I like it.

I am 6'7'' and I also have the faded lights because of my seat position but still visible.

My main issue would be I wish it had an audible indication connect it to the beep of the backup sensor or something. Half the time I forget top even pay attention to the lights, because as mentioned above they are subtle. But the ability to turn on or off a sound would greatly improve its use I believe.
 

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Can anyone confirm that the Side Assist features can cause problems with car radars such as the V1? I've read the feature in the Q7 was causing problems.
 

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I have not moved my detector into my Audi yet, ha would be kinda of funny watching random people that have detectors slow as you come by.

But I also hope it won't mess with it. I know in the Infiniti forums some had problem with the Laser cruise control setting off the detector.
 

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Great review Aerodave.
My dealer tells me that the Side Assist will be part of the Tech Package for the 09's. I ordered the tech package but was wondering if the few features justified the cost. Adding this makes the package more worth while. Althogh I don't know what the new cost will be yet.
 

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Interesting. They seem a little...angry!

Not sure whether I'm setting off other folks' radar detectors but mine isn't registering K band signals in inappropriate situations.
 

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Unfortunately, we can't get HHA right now in the US.
I thought that the "hill hold assist" was part of one of the tech packages, not as a separate option. As a matter of fact, when I was waiting for my salesman I asked him to get me the owners manual of the A5 that they had to confirm that it was on the car and it is, but I think it's called something different.

Can anyone else who has one confirm this please?

This was an important feature for me because I live in San Francisco, and driving a 6sp without the hill hold and without a manual e-brake makes driving on those hills a little rough...
 

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I thought that the "hill hold assist" was part of one of the tech packages, not as a separate option. As a matter of fact, when I was waiting for my salesman I asked him to get me the owners manual of the A5 that they had to confirm that it was on the car and it is, but I think it's called something different.
Keep in mind that there are several options included in the owner's manual, but which are not necessarily installed on US spec cars. (The rear sunshade is a perfect example.)

See the following thread regarding "hill hold assist" functionality on US spec cars:
http://www.a5oc.com/forums/showthread.php/hill-assist-u-1622/index.html?t=1622
 

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Keep in mind that there are several options included in the owner's manual, but which are not necessarily installed on US spec cars. (The rear sunshade is a perfect example.)

See the following thread regarding "hill hold assist" functionality on US spec cars:
http://www.a5oc.com/forums/showthread.php/hill-assist-u-1622/index.html?t=1622
Thanks, and I didn't realize that they didn't edit the bleeding manual for the different countries!! WTH? I mean, pay someone to get that stuff accurate!

Thanks again.
 

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Thanks, and I didn't realize that they didn't edit the bleeding manual for the different countries!! WTH? I mean, pay someone to get that stuff accurate!

Thanks again.
You're welcome.

But, in Audi's defense, the "About this Owner's Manual" section does state the following:

"This owner's manual describes the equipment range specified for this model at the editorial deadline date. Some of the equipment described here will only be available at a later date, or only in specific markets."
 

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Is that really a defense, TX? Warning: Manual is inaccurate and overgeneralized! Whew! Even better, they could end every page with "..., maybe". :p
 

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Audi actually explained in some tech article ways back why the side assist (and other similar assistants) are designed in a way that only driver can see them, the reason is that passengers in the car shouldn't be made aware of any mistakes the driver makes - at least when it comes to pre-emptive convenience functions, of course audible crash warning or break jolt from adaptive cruise or things like that are things the passengers can see and feel... That is an important design goal for them. That is also why the warning lights in Side Assist are carefully positioned so that only the driver can see them.

Thanks must go to aerodave for a GREAT write-up, again. You are true asset for this forum, thanks!
 
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