The new Audi R8 and the Audi R18 e-tron quattro race car prototype exhibit great similarities in their controls and displays. Both feature a multifunction steering wheel with buttons the driver can use to control key dynamic parameters, as well as a digital display for indicators.
The interior of the new Audi R8 illustrates the similarities between Audi motorsport and Audi production cars very well. Its defining element is the “monoposto” – the large curved section that encircles the area in front of the driver’s seat and conveys the atmosphere of a race cockpit. The driver sits on a newly developed lightweight seat that is mounted low. The operating concept focuses on the driver. Drivers can control all important functions without taking their hands off the steering wheel or looking away from the road – as in a race car.
New satellite buttons: the steering wheels
The sport leather steering wheel with multifunction plus (standard in the Audi R8 V10) adds two large, round satellite controls to the buttons and roller controls of the MMI operating system. Located beneath the right steering wheel spoke is a red button for starting and stopping the engine. Beneath the left spoke there is a black button that the driver uses to select one of the four basic modes of the Audi drive select driving dynamics system – comfort, auto, dynamic or individual.
Two more buttons, the satellite buttons, are added to the performance leather-trimmed steering wheel of the Audi R8 V10 plus (optional in the V10). The right satellite button controls the exhaust flaps, while the driver uses the left button to activate the performance mode. The driver selects one of the performance modes – dry, wet or snow – by turning the rotary ring integrated in the push-button. These modes adapt systems relevant to driving dynamics to the friction coefficient of the road surface, thereby maximizing stability and driving dynamics. The performance modes each have special engine/transmission tuning.
Fully digital instrument: the Audi virtual cockpit
The fully digital Audi virtual cockpit is standard in the new R8. Its TFT display has a 12.3-inch diagonal and offers a resolution of 1,440 x 540 pixels. It shows all information in remarkably sharp, bright, brilliant and contrast-rich graphics with complex, detailed effects. The needle position of the rev counter is updated 60 times per second, making its movement very fluid – even when the V10 revs up under full load. The color scheme of the display varies according to the basic menu setting – it is orange for the media menu, for instance, and green for the telephone menu.
The driver can switch between two user interfaces by pressing the “View” button. In the infotainment mode, the navigation map or lists from the Telephone, Radio and Audio areas appear in a large central window – while the rev counter and speedometer appear as small round instruments on either side of this display window. In the classic view, the instruments are approximately as large as analog instruments, and the center display window is therefore smaller.
In performance mode, the primary instrument is a large central rev counter. It also serves as a gear shift indicator – when the seven-speed S tronic is being operated in manual mode, its scale has a color background at higher engine speeds. As the rpm increases, more segments are added: green, orange and red. As soon as the engine reaches its limit of 8,500 rpm, the entire scale flashes red. The Audi R18 e-tron quattro racing car has a similar function on-board.
Other indicators: g meter, lap timer, power and torque
The driver can use the multifunction push-buttons located on both sides of the rev counter to place gages that visualize the dynamics of the new Audi R8. The power and torque output of the 5.2 FSI are shown as percentages, and a g-meter, whose peak value is 1.5 g, visualizes forces generated when driving through curves, braking and or accelerating. A lap timer records up to 99 laps and compares times. As in the race car, the status of key technical parameters can also be viewed: engine oil and transmission fluid temperatures as well as air pressures and temperatures of the tires.
The Audi virtual cockpit is driven by a high-performance Tegra 30 chip supplied by Audi joint venture partner Nvidia. It is designed for low electrical consumption and has separate audio, video and image processing units.
Evolutionary advanced development: the Audi R18 e-tron quattro
The Audi R18 e-tron quattro for the 2015 race season advances the operating and display concept of the previous race sports car. The switches and controls are laid out on the steering wheel and at the front of the cockpit to the left of the steering wheel. The steering wheel display and two more monitors show all key information.
The driver sits on the right side in the LMP1 race car. Various secondary switches are positioned on the front cockpit panel to the left of the driver. Under the decal labeled “E” is a switch with a guard that activates the fire extinguishing system. Beneath it are a rotary volume control for the radio communications loudspeaker and a socket for the communications cable connected to the helmet. In the area to the right are buttons for idle and reverse gear as well as the main switch for the vehicle electrical system and a switch for activating the hybrid system. The driver can de-power the high-voltage system for technical work in the pits or if there is a problem on the racetrack. Two red and two green LEDs indicate its status – green means that the system is operating error-free, while red indicates an error.
If the electronic circuit breaker box deactivates an electrical consumer in the Audi R18 e-tron quattro, the driver can attempt to re-activate it by pushing a button located in the upper front cockpit area. If a line for the data logging and transmission system is deactivated, it can be reconnected by pushing the adjacent reset button. Two rotary controls are used to make settings for the brake system and the Anti-Slip Regulation (ASR).
33 controls: the steering wheel in the R18 e-tron quattro
As in a Formula 1 race car, the steering wheel in the Audi R18 e-tron quattro has a yoke design. It is made of aluminum and is therefore very light. There is an info display on the front of the steering wheel. 33 buttons, paddles and scroll wheels are arranged on the front and back of the steering wheel. The R8 V10 plus production sports car has a total of 20 such controls on its steering wheel.
As in the sports car, two paddles are used to shift gears in the R18 e-tron quattro – the left paddle is used to downshift, and the right to upshift. Four additional paddles are used to activate the clutch, fuel system and headlamp flasher. In addition, the driver has two control knobs for adjusting the brake balance.
There are four rotary switches at the center of the steering wheel – they control the windshield wipers, ASR and mapping for the V6 TDI and the hybrid system. They are enclosed by a circle of 13 buttons which are used for the pit function and the speed limit on the pit lane, for radio communications, for the starter (2 switches), windshield heating, fog lights, high-beam lights, drinking system, hybrid function, caution flag periods and for user navigation in the steering wheel display.
There are three more switches on each of the two steering wheel horns – redundant switches for the hybrid system, brake balancing and ASR. The upper border of the steering wheel integrates six green, three yellow and three red LEDs – they are gear shift indicators that replace the rev counter. When the last yellow diode lights up, the driver should shift to the next higher gear.
The steering wheel display: 3.0-inch diagonal
The compact, transflective, color display with its 3.0-inch diagonal is positioned at the center of the steering wheel. It assures extremely good readability, even in bright direct sunlight. There are three views for normal driving whose layouts are similar. Each view shows all four tire pressures, the engaged gear, the ASR and brake balance settings and the current fuel strategy – they help the driver to achieve energy targets for each lap. There are also variable instruments for lap time and difference, vehicle speed, charge status of the flywheel accumulator and brake temperature.
Two more small monitors under the headlining complement the steering wheel display. An AMOLED display made of organic LEDs that works with a rear camera serves as a digital rear-view mirror. A second gear indicator appears its upper area. Another display required by the race organizer shows the flag signals posted by the race committee.
The equipment and data specified in this document refer to the model range offered in Germany. Subject to change without notice; errors and omissions excepted.