With its innovative display and control concept, the new A4 model family is at the peak of its segment. Using the central components – the Audi virtual cockpit and MMI touch, both optional extras – the driver can use a multitude of functions in a way that is not only easily comprehensible, but fun as well.
As standard equipment, the new Audi A4 and A4 Avant are fitted with a large, easily readable, analog tachometer and speedometer. The display of the driver information system is located between those two instruments. In the basic version, the driver information system has a 5-inch display. If MMI Navigation plus is selected, Audi supplies a 7-inch monitor. It presents data such as radio station, music lists or navigation information.
Audi virtual cockpit
The Audi virtual cockpit is available as a high-end option, provided that MMI Navigation plus with MMI touch is on board. Its 12.3-inch LCD monitor with a resolution of 1,440 x 540 pixels ensures highly detailed graphics. For example, engine speed calculated 60 times a second so that the virtual needle is extremely precise and moves smoothly. Scroll-down lists follow a physical model so that factors such as inertia, elasticity and damping are considered.
With the “View” button on the multifunction steering wheel plus, the driver can switch between two different user interfaces. The infotainment mode is dominated by a central window – it offers items such as the navigation map or lists from the areas of telephone, radio and audio. The tachometer and speedometer are presented here as round instruments. In the classical view, the instruments are shown in about the same size as analog dials and the central window is correspondingly smaller.
The Audi virtual cockpit presents information comprehensively and in various ways – from the navigation arrows to dynamic animations and the infotainment features (including connect services) as well as the graphics of some assistance systems. The display changes its color design depending on the basic menu: orange in the media menu and green in the telephone menu for example. At the lower edge, there are permanent displays of exterior temperature, time of day and mileage, as well as warning symbols and other information. As with the display of the driver information system in the analog instrument, the driver operates the Audi virtual cockpit with the optional multifunction steering wheel plus. The switches on the left spoke are used to move through the menus of the audio system, onboard computer and – if fitted – navigation system and telephone; the user interface can be changed with the “View” button. The volume control, voice-control system, telephone express control and the skip function for rapidly changing radio stations or music tracks are located on the right spoke of the steering wheel.
The new MMI control concept
Another technical innovation in the Audi A4 and A4 Avant is the MMI-System, especially in the full version as MMI Navigation plus with MMI touch. Its menu structure has been completely redesigned; its operation with flat hierarchies is oriented towards modern smartphones. An intelligent logic that is simpler and quick to use replaces static menu trees; frequently used functions can be reached with just a few clicks.
The terminal’s central element is the rotary controller, whose ring is illuminated in white with the optional MMI touch. Its upper surface features a touchpad, which is used to input characters and multi-finger gestures – zooming into the navigation map for example.
Additional features: the function and option menus
The terminal also has buttons for the most important basic menus, the general menu button, the “Back” button and eight freely programmable favorite buttons. Two more buttons on the left and right of the rotary controller allow access to the function and option menus, which supplement many operating areas. For example, the driver can select the waveband in the radio menu or access traffic information in the map menu. With the functions and options, the driver can be navigated to a programmed destination and display parking spaces in the vicinity, or can store the destination in the favorites list.
A particular highlight of the new system is the MMI search, which is available for all basic menus and which accepts free text input like an Internet search engine does. It generally reacts after the input of just a few letters and takes the car’s position into consideration. When looking for a restaurant for example, it is sufficient to input its name and the first letter of the city – a list of results then appears, Europe-wide and including full addresses. Searching for song titles, albums and radio stations works in the same way.
The voice control system has also been intensively further developed and now understands many phrases from everyday speech. In order to make a phone call, it is sufficient to say “I want to call Peter Miller.” The navigation system also reacts to natural speech (“Where can I fill up?” or “Where is the nearest Italian restaurant?” for example). The new voice control system, which also allows the dictation of text messages, is also available in the radio and media menus.
MMI Navigation plus with MMI touch makes use of the concentrated power of Audi’s new modular infotainment platform. Its main processor combines two main levels – the radio car control unit and the MMX board (MMX= Multi-Media eXtension). The board is designed as a plug-in module, so in the development process, Audi can always keep it up to date and bring innovations from the field of consumer electronics into the car without delay.
The second-generation modular infotainment platform, which is used by the new Audi A4 and A4 Avant, includes a Tegra 30 processor from cooperation partner Nvidia in the MMX board. The quad-core chip from the Tegra 3 series, which operates in conjunction with special 3D graphics software, processes all of the online, media, voice-control, navigation and telephone functions. With a clock rate of more than one gigahertz and a powerful graphics card, it can carry out eight billion calculations per second.
As an option, Audi offers a head-up display in the new A4 and A4 Avant. The system projects relevant information onto the windscreen in the form of easily comprehensible symbols and characters. A TFT monitor with white LED backlighting generates the color image. Two aspherical mirrors enlarge and reflect it, as well as compensating for distortion caused by the geometry of the windscreen.
The information appears in a window 200 by 80 millimeters in size (7.9 by 3.1 in) and appears to hover about two meters (6.6 ft) in front of the driver. The eyes register it extremely fast as they do not have to adjust to a closer field of vision. Using the MMI, the driver can determine which information the display should show, and can also adjust the height and brightness of the display.
*The fuel consumption and CO2 emission figures of all models named above and available on the German market can be found in the list on the last page of this basic information.