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Notes on changing Audi A3 double DIN radio to factory navigation

17.2.2009 (updated 25.10.2009) - Just some quick notes on a story I've been following. Those current generation Audi A3 owners that had their cars shipped with the double DIN Concert/Symphony II+ radio or later (the new double height radios with the large red monochrome screens and side buttons around the screen), can relatively easily exchange the radio to an Audi factory navigation device - the colour RNS-E or the red monochrome BNS 5.0.

All you need (in addition to the actual navigation device and antenna) are four of the Audi radio removal tools from your spareparts desk and pull out the radio with them. The connectors on the back will fit to the navigation device as well, plug and play. You need to add an after-market GPS antenna with FAKRA connection, but that is easy as well, since there is a good place for the antenna underneath the dashboard, so no extensive disassembly is required. Kufatec.de is one source for the antenna.

If your car has BOSE, phone or things like that, you will want to read the threads linked below for any smaller changes that might be needed. Audi A4 B7 cars with this retrofit also require some K line connector changes in the radio cabling harness, but Audi A3 is CAN only, so that is not needed.

Pretty much plug and play, then! VAG COM coding required of course for everything to run perfect... Some links:

RNS-E retrofit for Dummies

2009 A3: Question about replacing Concert radio with RNS-E

Installing GPS antenna for RNS-E behind the instrument cluster

Audi A3 (8P) RNS-E Retrofit Guide (this replaces a single DIN unit, so is harder than with a Concert/Symphony II+)

Search audiforum.us for more information!

However, there is one catch. Both of the Audi factory navigation devices use a different type of diversity radio antenna configuration than the Concert/Symphony II+ does. If you just plug and play everything, the radio reception in the navigation unit will work, but reception will be less than it used to be because diversity isn't working. If this is a problem for you, you need to replace the antenna amplifier modules in the back of the car, in the upper and lower parts of the trunk door and add cabling between the amplifiers. Luckily, you won't have to run cabling through the car, just within the trunk door.

See this thread for the details and pictures:

Converting Symphony II+ antenna system for use with RNS-E

Picture of the different diversity configurations:

UPDATE 25.2.2009: JohnS3 on AudiForum.us has confirmed replacing the rear antenna amplifiers and re-wiring FAKRA from top amplifier to lower amplifier and adding a new three-pin cable between the amplifiers works. No wiring to front is needed.

Here is the parts list:
8P4 035 225 B upper antenna amp
8P4 035 225 lower antenna amp
000 098 652 A 1.5 m female to female FAKRA cable
000 098 692 30 cm male to male FAKRA adaptor
1C0 973 119 B three pin connector housing, 2
000 979 009 repair wires, 3

For details, see JohnS3's great article here:

Converting Symphony II+ antenna system for use with RNS-E

Finnish about RNS-E retrofit (update 25.10.2009):

RNS-E vai joku muu?

Thanks to all the contributors in the threads above!


UPDATE 1.7.2009: New RNS-E was released for Audi model-year 2010, retrofit details for it in the link below.

2010 Audi RNS-E retrofit (A3 8P, TT 8J, R8)

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