Any advice here on how to import contacts or get voice commands to work for calling people without having to mess about with my phone.
Hello Ewest and welcome to the forum!
Your profile doesn't say where you're located. Knowing your general location and language would be helpful to troubleshoot issues with your i3's voice recognition.
As a native American English speaker I've found the i3's voice recognition to be decent in my first one (a 2014) and much improved in my second one (a 2021).
My experience with multiple non-smartphones connected to the i3 over Bluetooth has worked very well and I have never bothered with importing contacts to the i3.
Once my phone is connected to the i3 over Bluetooth I give the system a minute or two before using voice commands. Then, if I want to voice dial, I press the voice-command icon on the steering wheel and say "phone book". The car will say something like "Please say a name" and (especially in the 2021) it selects the correct contact from my phone.
(note: I've disabled online voice processing so – in theory – all voice processing is being done by the car).