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by Tim Beissmann

If music’s really important to you, the ability to stream your favourite songs wirelessly from your smartphone or MP3 player through your car’s speakers will be an important feature to consider on your next new car. But which cars feature this technology? Bluetooth audio is in the process of being widely adopted right now, which means some cars have it and some cars don’t, across a variety of classes, styles and price-points.

(Bluetooth audio streaming allows you to transmit your music from a Bluetooth-equipped music device like an iPhone to a Bluetooth-equipped car audio system, wirelessly. It’s not the same thing as Bluetooth for handsfree telephone operation, although both systems use the same technology.)

Cracking the code on Bluetooth streaming capability can be time consuming and frustrating. So here’s a list of vehicles currently on sale in Australia with Bluetooth audio streaming. It could save you hours of online research across potentially dozens of manufacturers’ specification sheets:

Audi

A1

A8

All other models from 2011.

BMW/MINI

Bluetooth standard on all expect 1 Series Hatch. Wireless streaming available when satellite navigation is installed.

Chrysler/Dodge/Jeep

2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee

2011 Jeep Patriot

2011 Jeep Wrangler

2011 Jeep Cherokee

2011 Dodge Caliber

2011 Chrysler Grand Voyager.

Citroen

C3 – Standard on Exclusive, optional on others.

DS3 – Optional

C4 – Optional

C4 Picasso – Optional

C5 – Standard on Exclusive, optional on others

C6 – N/A as the car has its own integrated phone system

Berlingo – Standard on long body, optional on short body

Dispatch – Optional

Holden

Omega Sedan/Sportwagon/Ute

Berlina Sedan/Sportwagon

Calais Sedan/Sportwagon

Calais-V Sedan/Sportwagon

SV6 Sedan/Sportwagon/Ute

SS Sedan/Sportwagon/Ute

SS-V Sedan/Sportwagon/Ute

Caprice

Caprice-V

HSV

All

Hyundai

Getz

2011 i20

2011 i30

2011 ix35

2011 i45 Premium 2.4

Jaguar

XJ

Kia

All 2011 models except:

Cerato Sedan S (not available)

Carnival S ($300 option)

Mazda

Mazda2 – Optional

Mazda3 – Standard on Maxx Sport, SP25, Diesel and MPS. Optional on Neo and Maxx.

Mazda6 – Standard on Classic, Touring, Luxury and Luxury Sport. Optional on Limited.

CX-7 – Standard on Luxury Sports and Diesel Sports. Optional on Classic and Classic Sports.

CX-9 – Standard on Grand Touring and Luxury with Sat Nav. Optional on Classic and Luxury.

MX-5 – Optional on Touring and Roadster Coupe.

RX-8 – Optional on Luxury.

BT-50 – Optional

Mercedes-Benz

All models have Bluetooth standard, although wireless will only allow what you have recorded onto the device (not downloaded) to be played.

Mitsubishi

Pajero GLS

Pajero VRX

Nissan

Patrol Ti

X-TRAIL Ti

Pathfinder Ti

GT-R

Peugeot

308 XTE

3008 XTE

308CC

RCZ

4007

Renault

Clio 200 (including Trophee, 20th Anniversary and Gordini)

Megane Hatch/250 Renault Sport/CC

Fluence

Koleos

Suzuki

Kizashi Sport

Kizashi XLS

Volkswagen

2011 Passat CC

Volvo

S60 (from December)

XC60 (as early as Q1 2011)

S80, V70 and XC70 (from September 2011)

Brands currently not offering wireless audio streaming in Australia include: Alfa Romeo, Ferrari, Fiat, Ford, FPV, Land Rover, Maserati, Proton and smart.

Note: All major car brands in Australia have been contacted in relation to this story. We’re still awaiting responses from Honda, Porsche, Subaru and Toyota. We’ll update this list if and when responses are forthcoming.

But what if your next car isn’t on this list and you still want to stream wirelessly? How about if you want to keep your old car and still stream your music? A technology company named New Potato Technologies is among the first to design a portable wireless streaming system that allows you to retrofit the technology.

The ‘TuneLink Auto’ plugs into your car’s 12-volt power outlet, and allows iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad to stream music via Bluetooth through the car’s speakers. It also incorporates Bluetooth phone functionality and has a ‘share’ option, which allows multiple passengers to share the TuneLink connection. A USB port also allows for fast charging (albeit using a wire this time).

It works like this: the unit receives the smart phone’s Bluetooth output. It then converts the signal to an FM radio signal, which an old-tech in-car audio signal can receive and play – provided you tune the FM radio to the right ‘station’.

The system’s not perfect. Firstly, it tunes into and then transmits through a preselected FM frequency, so it’s a case of too bad if the one it operates over just happens to be your favourite. It’s also not fully integrated like some factory-fitted car Bluetooth audio systems, which will lead to some occasional handling of the smartphone (to select different songs, playlists, etc.)

However, for $US99.99, it’s one of the best Bluetooth-streaming options available … if wireless music is a priority, and buying one of the cars on the list above isn’t.




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