Our favourite European cars* that work with Alexa
In-car voice control just got much, much better
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Voice control in cars isn't new – cars have had a little voice button on the steering wheel for the best part of a decade. But, let's be honest, most of the systems have been utter rubbish. You'd ask your connected services for weather information and suddenly the sat-nav's trying to take you to Rome. Hopeless.
But today, with the inexorable rise of smart home technology, voice commands and virtual assistants are much, much better. Leading the way is Amazon's Alexa, and as well as churning out all manner of smart speakers to dot (hah) around your house, it's also worked with carmakers to get Alexa built into new vehicles.
Why would you want that? Many reasons, from setting directions or checking traffic information to turning off the lights at home that you left on by mistake. But chiefly, Alexa-enabled cars let you do all these things and more without taking your hands off the wheel, fiddling through menus or making phone calls.
There are way too many Alexa-enabled vehicles to list here, so we've just picked our favourites. And here they are.
*And a truck
Swank. That's the name of the game in Audi's A8, with All The Technology lumped into it as befits the flagship saloon in the portfolio. And when you've got self-driving doodads and leather heated massage seats, you don't want to be doing anything as old fashioned as pressing buttons or fiddling with dials to use your monster sound system, do you? Hell no. Alexa, set the destination as COMFORT. (OK, that might not work unless there's a town called Comfort. Oh wait, there is!)
When is a performance SUV not a performance SUV? When it's also a coupe. And when BMW insists on calling it an SAV, or sports activity vehicle. Yes, despite the silly marketing the X6 is still an SUV and booo, we petrolheads hate SUVs, but wait – this one is pretty good. Especially the X6 M Competition, which has eleventy-billion horsepower (not accurate) and will hit 62mph from standstill in 3.8 seconds (accurate). When you're going that fast, you'll want a voice assistant that doesn't mess about. We mean Alexa, in case that's not clear. All built in, ready to rock.
Now that we've established that SUVs can be great after all, let's talk about the Cupra Formentor, which is Definitely Not A Seat. Although it is. But officially, it's its own brand, as proven by the different badge on the front, and the Formentor is the first all-Cupra model, a hardcore SUV that's considerably less cash to buy than an X6 M. Nevertheless, 306bhp isn't to be sniffed at, and neither is a digital assistant that can add clean underwear to your shopping list when you realise how fast the Cupra can go around corners.
Something that's unquestionably a Seat is the Seat Leon. Yes, even the Cupra version. The Leon might be a humble hatchback, but it's available in a range of flavours from the estate to the five-door hatch, from the fuel-efficient to the really rather rapid, and all versions come with Alexa capability. Sadly, Alexa can't tell you which version you should get. You'll have to decide that yourself.
MINI John Cooper Works
Any Mini (or MINI if you want to shout) is fun to drive, but for the real hardcore super kart experience, it's got to have a JCW badge on it. The John Cooper Works range spans several models, including Clubman, Countryman and Convertible, but we'd go for the plain old hatch. Low to the floor, wheel at each corner, 300-plus horsepower equals lots of fun.
Speaking of John Cooper Works, do you know what else... works? Alexa, because it's built-in from the Mini factory. BOOM.
How many cars have been made that still look futuristic, years after they were released? Not many, that's how many. But the BMW i8 fits firmly into that category. First released in 2014, everyone said, "haha, yes, nice concept car, but now let's see the real one please", and BMW said "AAAAAAH it is the real one, you fools," and everyone was like "waaaaaaaat?". We're paraphrasing, obviously, but seven years later the i8 still looks awesome. And if you can find a car from 2018 onwards, it'll have Alexa built into it. If ever there was a car to bark futuristic voice orders at, it's the i8.
Not everyone wants a shouty, super powerful sports car, apparently. Sounds weird, but these people do exist. In which case, there's not much better as an all-rounder than the latest Volkswagen Golf. Some may decry its new droopy face, but VW has nailed pretty much every other criteria, from build quality and features to comfort, via driving engagement, especially in the GTI and R models. What more do you need? Why, the world's foremost digital assistant of course. Download the dedicated app to the Golf's infotainment screen, and you're away. TICK.
Lamborghini Huracan Evo
When you're behind the wheel of a frankly ludicrous supercar, you don't want to be taking your hands off the wheel to fiddle with settings. You want to be able to just yell instructions at a computer, and that's why (probably) the latest Lambo Huracan Evo has Alexa included, straight from the factory. Simply by barking orders, you can change the air-con settings or turn on the seat heaters, all while focusing your attention on the massive amounts of horsepower at your disposal and the endless stream of heads turning your way as you burble past.
"Alexa, HOOOOONK HOOOOONK"
Just because you drive a truck rather than a car, that doesn't mean you can't bask in the Alexa goodness. Volvo has baked Amazon's finest into its latest range of trucks, including the long haul FH, which is loaded with other goodies too. Adaptive cruise control, dual clutch gearbox, dynamic steering and exterior cameras mix with LED headlights and leather upholstery to make us car drivers a bit jealous. Also there's a bed too. Seems like this would be an excellent road trip vehicle. Can you hook a massive luxury apartment to the back?
Alexa, what are you?
(Support and functionality may vary by country/region and language. Some trim levels may not be supported, and some vehicles may require a data, entertainment, or connectivity package/subscription to use Alexa. Check with the automaker or dealership to ensure compatibility.)