The new Audi Q7 also opens a new chapter in operating and display concepts. Standard within the driver’s field of vision is an instrument cluster with analog circular instrument dials for the engine and vehicle speeds. Between them is the seven-inch color display belonging to the driver information system, with its attractive, high-resolution graphics. Depending on the equipment level, the range includes radio stations, music lists, navigation maps and the black and white pictures of the night vision assistant, for example.
Fascinating graphics: The Audi virtual cockpit
Together with the optional MMI navigation plus with MMI all-in-touch, the Audi Q7 optionally has the Audi virtual cockpit on board – a 12.3-inch TFT screen with a resolution of 1,440 x 540 pixels, displaying razor-sharp, fascinatingly detailed images. The needle of the rev counter, for example, is recalculated 60 times per second, so as to be absolutely fluid in operation.
The driver can switch between two different user interfaces. In “Infotainment” mode, a central window dominates the view, providing a large stage for the navigation map or for lists in the phone, radio and audio areas. The tachometer and speedometer are displayed as small dial instruments on the right and left. In the classical view, the central window is smaller, and the instruments appear about as large as analog displays.
The driver operates the Audi virtual cockpit just like the driver information display in the analog instrument cluster, by means of the multifunction steering wheel. Using the switches on the left spoke, the driver moves through the menus of the on-board computer, the audio system, and – depending on the equipment – the phone and navigation system. On the right side of the steering wheel are located the volume roller, the voice dialog button, telephone express controls and the skip function for quickly changing the radio station or the song.
Hovering picture: The head-up display
On request, Audi equips the new Q7 with a head-up display for projecting important information as symbols and numbers in a field of 200 x 80 mm (7.9 x 3.1 in) on the windshield. A TFT display backlit by a white LED generates the color image; two aspherical mirrors enlarge and redirect it. The mirrors also compensate for any distortion caused by the curvature of the windshield. The entire system is inconspicuously integrated in the instrument panel.
Information appears to hover in a window about 2.1 meters (6.9 ft) in front of the windshield. The human eye registers the information extremely quickly – there’s no need to switch from the accustomed long-range vision. Through the MMI, the driver can set what information is to appear on the display. The driver can also adjust the height and brightness of the image. To avoid ghost images, the windshield has a special shape.
With haptic feedback: The MMI all-in-touch
At the center of the instrument panel lies the MMI monitor for the driver and front passenger, which electrically extends each time the system is started. It has a diagonal of 8.3 inches and displays the elaborate Audi graphics in high resolution.
The MMI terminal on the console of the center tunnel serves as the control system. On the top configuration level with MMI navigation plus it bears the name MMI all-in-touch, and includes a rotary/push-button control and two rocker switches for the basic menus.
The main user interface is the touchpad, however. Its anthracite-colored real glass surface is extremely scratch-resistant and has excellent gliding properties. The driver can enter characters on the touchpad surface or perform multi-finger gestures to zoom in on the map or scroll through lists, for example. The wrist rests comfortably on the tiptronic selector lever. Each input is followed by an acoustic and a haptic confirmation – a click that is also felt on the finger. The click is triggered by a weight that moves electrically at high speed under the touchpad.
Like a smartphone: The operating logic
In the MMI system of the new Audi Q7 practically all input can be entered in just a few steps. The operation follows a flat hierarchy, based on the logic of modern smartphones. For example, the MMI search proceeds with a free text input, as in an internet search engine. It generally answers queries after just a few letters, taking into consideration the car’s current location. When searching for a place to eat, for instance, the driver only has to enter the name of a restaurant and the first few letters of the city, and a list of hits appears together with the addresses – for anywhere in Europe. Searching for songs, albums and radio stations proceeds in exactly the same way.
Along the left and right edges of the touchpad the user can access the function and option menus, which intelligently supplement the many operational sectors. For example, in the radio menu the driver can choose the frequency band, or go to the traffic information in the map menu. With these functions and options, the driver can get directions to an entered destination, or display nearby parking lots and save the destination to the Favorites list. The upper edge of the touch surface contains eight freely programmable favorite buttons for the preferred stations, contact data and media titles, for example.
The voice operation of the MMI navigation plus is also state of the art, understanding countless formulations from everyday language. In the telephone menu, for example, the driver can access a contact just by saying “I want to call Peter Miller”. Aiding navigation are commands such as “Where can I refuel?” or “Where is the nearest Italian restaurant?”. This natural language voice control, which also allows dictation of text messages, is also available in the Radio and Media menus.
Computer center: The modular infotainment platform
MMI navigation plus with MMI all-in-touch in the new Audi Q7 draws on the computing power of the modular infotainment platform (MIB) from Audi. Its main frame contains two main units within a very compact space – the radio car control unit and the MMX board (MMX = Multi-Media eXtension).
The MMX board integrates – along with the working and flash memory – a super-fast Tegra processor from Audi’s partner NVIDIA, which processes all online, media, voice control, navigation and telephone features. The board is a plug-in module – always at the state of the art in development, Audi can bring the latest trends in consumer electronics into the car at an early stage.
The MIB of the second generation operating in the new Audi Q7 employs a Tegra 30 processor, a quad-core chip from the Tegra 3 series.
With a clock speed of over 1 GHz and a fast graphics card, it can drive two displays and perform eight billion operations per second. The Tegra 30 processor cooperates with a 3D graphics program from the specialist Rightware for the display of three-dimensional images. The Audi virtual cockpit uses its own Tegra 30 processor, which works closely with its counterpart in the MIB.
The equipment, data and prices specified in this document refer to the model range offered in Germany. Subject to change without notice; errors and omissions excepted.