By on November 3, 2016

Audi On Demand Concierge, Image: © 2016 Bozi Tatarevic/The Truth About Cars

My wife and I visited the Bay Area a couple of weeks ago. Our plan was open-ended and started with a one-way ticket to Oakland and two nights at the Westin in Union Square. Since parking in San Francisco is expensive, we decided to forgo renting a car at the airport and took an Uber into the city.

After exploring the city for a bit, we decided to head up north and visit some wineries. One of the more convenient options to rent a car for the day is the new Audi On Demand service, so we picked up an A4 and headed north.

Audi On Demand App And Receipt

Our first mode of transportation into San Francisco was an UberPool ride from Oakland airport, which came in at a thrifty $16. After we explored the city by foot for a few days, I downloaded the Audi On Demand app to rent a car. Once the app was installed, it took me about five minutes to fill out my license, insurance, and credit card information. I then had the option of selecting everything from a $120 a day A3 E-tron to a $1,235 a day R8 Spyder. My first instinct was to select the $190 a day S4, which would end up costing $115 when using their first time rental $75 off promo code, but it was unfortunately already booked.

I decided to rent an A4 instead. The app gave me an estimate of $76.13, after discount and including taxes and fees, for my rental period. I requested the vehicle be delivered at the curb of my hotel and was allowed to select a delivery time for two hours from booking.

Ten minutes before delivery, I received a text message informing me that my concierge Allen would be waiting at the corner of the curb of my hotel. We went out to meet him.

He introduced himself, confirmed he’d delivered the correct vehicle, and told me he had taken photo and video for the damage pre-inspection. He confirmed some small wheel rash on one wheel and asked if I saw anything I wanted noted before the trip.

Audi A4 Virtual Cockpit At Winery, Image: © 2016 Bozi Tatarevic/The Truth About Cars

He asked for my license and credit card to confirm identity and payment and identity, then offered to give me a 15 minute tour of the car and its features. He explained some basic features but I declined the full tour. He also told me the vehicle could return at the same fuel level or they would refill it at no additional cost using the average city fuel price.

The A4 was clean, polished, and came almost fully optioned out in Premium Plus Quattro trim with Audi’s Virtual Cockpit. Inside, we found an iPhone cable waiting for us along with bottled water and an Audi magazine to read. I got comfortable in the seat quickly and we set out across the Golden Gate Bridge toward Calistoga.

Audi On Demand Final Bill

Our hour-long trip was comfortable and fun. The A4 handled well, no doubt thanks to fairly new and competent tires. We arrived at our first winery tour and continued south until we reached our Airbnb in Napa that evening.

We booked the Kimpton Sir Francis Drake on the other side of Union Square for the remainder of our time in the area and set that location for our Audi’s drop-off. We arrive about 15 minutes early and Allen was already waiting there. He asked about our experience and completed another photo and video walk around of the car. He bid us a good day and drove off in the A4. I received a set of emails from Audi On Demand a few minutes later with the first one containing the video and photos from the inspection and another containing the final bill, which showed he’d added six gallons of fuel at $3.40 a gallon, bringing the final total to $96.53. The fuel price was fair considering I had seen prices for premium ranging from $2.89 to $3.99 around various areas of the city.

Once we arrived back, we explored other areas of the city mostly by foot but wanted to check out Muir Woods. Since we are not ones for organized tours, I decided to download the Getaround app and pick up a car for a few hours.

Tesla Model S At Muir Woods, Image: © 2016 Bozi Tatarevic/The Truth About Cars

Getting set up in the app was easy and only required taking a picture of my license and credit card. I wanted something that would be fun to drive on the mountain leading to Muir Woods and first looked at a BMW 435i, but was dissuaded due to having to refuel it to full or face a large fee. Also, it needed to be re-parked on the street in a specific zone.

I found a few other cars but finally settled on Tesla Model S parked in a dedicated garage and only needed to be plugged back into a Chargepoint station upon return.

Tesla Model S Going To Muir Woods Behind Rental Challenger, Image: © 2016 Bozi Tatarevic/The Truth About Cars

I selected a pickup time about 45 minutes out since we needed to walk to the garage. I received a text message during our walk from the owner telling me the exact location of the car and some parking options around the garage for our return. Once we found the car, I took some pictures of the car and noted in the app that all four wheels had curb rash. I hit the unlock button in the app and we were in the car and on our way out of the city.

Tesla At Chargepoint Charger

The Model S was well maintained but showed its daily driver nature with a carpet that could use a vacuum and a screen that was full of fingerprints. It performed well and drove quite nicely all the way up to Muir Woods. Once we arrived back in the city, I pulled it back into the same garage and used the included ChargePoint card to connect to a charger. I texted the owner with the charging slot number and we were off to enjoy some Pho for dinner.

Our four-hour adventure with the Model S was a little more expensive than the day with the Audi, but still came to a reasonable $101. Both services were reasonably priced and — most importantly — easy to use since we did not have to worry about expensive overnight parking or if a car would get damaged on the street.

[Images: © 2016 Bozi Tatarevic/The Truth About Cars]

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11 Comments on “Exploring the Bay Area with Audi on Demand and Getaround...”


  • avatar
    DC Bruce

    So, would it be nice to have some comparison of the experience with these two cars, since they were driven back-to-back. I don’t mean a ‘review’ but just a “compare and contrast” kind of discussion of living with the two cars.

    • 0 avatar
      Grahambo

      Nice article but I agree with DC Bruce. Even more, I’d be interested in your comparison of the A4 to your WRX. My sense is the A4 is a relative snoozefest – nicely appointed and highly competent, but a snoozefest nonetheless.

      • 0 avatar

        The A4 is competent and quick once it gets moving but it a little numb if I am going to compare it to the WRX. There is a litte lag from the transmission on take-off but once it gets into the 2000 RPM range it wakes up and moves quite well.

        It handles nicely and can take a curvy road well but due to its luxury appointments does not have as much feedback. Overall, I liked the A4 and would consider it with a 6-speed if I was in the market for a grown-up type vehicle to step up to from the WRX.

        The interior of the A4 is where it shines. It is well appointed but not too pretentious. The Virtual Cockpit feature makes it feel modern even more so than the Model S.

        I liked the torque of the Model S and it handled quite well on the climb up to Muir Woods. I tested it out as we started going up and felt comfortable with the suspension and tires at increased speeds. Seeing the Model S dashboard is impressive the first time you see it but as my wife said, it feels clinical and like somebody stuck a computer screen on the dash where the A4 feels a little more thought out.

      • 0 avatar
        5280thinair

        I recently drove the WRX and A4 Quattro in my quest to pick the replacement for my TDI. While both are turbo 2.0L AWD cars with similar acceleration numbers, I found their character to be very different. The WRX definitely gives a lot more feedback from behind the wheel, but at the expense of a stiffer ride and a lot more road noise. The A4 is way more refined (extremely quiet inside, much nicer interior) but, as Bozi states, it’s a bit numb. The A4 does actually corner surprisingly well, it just doesn’t tell you much about what it’/ doing. And of course there’s the roughly $10k difference in real world starting prices to take into account.

        I decided the WRX was too stiff/loud for long road trips and crossed it off my list. The A4 is still a possibility although it’s more than I really want to spend. If I were 15 years younger I might have done the opposite. According to my local dealer, the manual-box A4s (which I’d prefer) aren’t expected to arrive until March/April, despite the automotive press saying they should be available before the end of the year.

  • avatar
    brn

    Your idea of a reasonable rate and mine are different. Then again, I don’t live in California.

    • 0 avatar
      Cymen

      There are much less expensive options on GetAround. It’s typical to find unexciting cars for $7-9/hour and pickup trucks for $11-12/hour. When I setup GetAround a year ago, it took 12+ hours to activate. Maybe that was due to a Friday evening but it’s a good idea to get completely setup ahead of time. I also take walk around photos of the vehicle now at pick up and drop off as there is a potential $700 fee if they suspect you damaged the vehicle during your rental period. My wife had that experience and thankfully they determined someone else had done it.

      It’s not super cheap but it is a lot more convenient than going to a rental agency and if you only need the vehicle for a couple of hours, it’s perfect (and often the cheapest option).

      • 0 avatar

        Luckily, my setup went quickly and smoothly. There were a bunch of cars in various price ranges and you could find a Sonic or Smart for about $6 an hour but I wanted something a little more interesting. I did take pictures of the car at pick up and drop off for that reason as well.

    • 0 avatar
      PJmacgee

      $100 seems pretty reasonable to tool around in an interesting/unique car like the Tesla (Avis wants more than $100/day for a Dodge Caravan, wtf). I’m definitely looking into this in my area (DC), if such services exist.

  • avatar
    TDIGuy

    Has anyone tried getting an A4 through Silvercar? The rates seem cheaper.


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