Audi has also set the bar significantly higher with regard to multimedia technology with the new A8. The optional new MMI navigation plus system provides its data to other technology modules, making the entire car highly intelligent. Its radically new operating concept with the MMI touch touchpad is another pioneering solution. The new A8 also leads the competition with respect to telephony and infotainment features.
The new MMI navigation plus is pure high-tech. All functions, including the DVD drive, are integrated in the main unit – the central computer in the center console. A8 owners can use a third of the 60 GB hard drive as a jukebox holding up to 4,000 songs. The hard drive also stores the navigation data. Two processors ensure that all applications such as navigation, voice control, telephony and audio remain fast and fluid when used simultaneously.
A dedicated 3D graphics processor generates the three-dimensional images in high resolution and high quality. The map shows these as a highly detailed 3D terrain model, and 3D maps of many European cities are also provided. If desired, an automated zoom feature always shows the most relevant section of the map, and route guidance now offers the choice between the classic arrow and a new, animated display with a lot of detailed information.
The functions of the tuner and sound system are consolidated in a second block, the radio unit. A central interface connects both units to the vehicle network. All the components have been developed according to strict Audi specifications. The Audi quality standards were as uncompromising as ever because the electronics used in a car have to be able to withstand extreme temperatures and vibrations.
In-depth information in advance: MMI navigation plus
The new MMI navigation plus is networked in a pioneering fashion with the driver assistance and safety systems. Its database describes the entire European road system in countless details. The navigation system analyzes these data predictively, reading the current course of the sedan but always thinking a bit ahead.
The predictive route data flow along the data bus that forms the electronic central nervous system of the A8. It uses a protocol developed by Audi to provide the data to the computers that manage the Audi adaptive cruise control with stop & go, the headlights and the eight-speed tiptronic. This enables these systems to precisely adapt their function to conditions in advance.
On the highway, the radar-assisted speed limiter can also compute the lanes in curves. On winding country roads the eight-speed tiptronic does not make unnecessary upshifts on short straight stretches. And in urban areas, the junction lights go on as the new A8 approaches the intersection even if the driver does not signal – this ensures even better safety.
Revolutionary operation: MMI touch
Audi has taken a revolutionary new path in the operation of the MMI navigation plus: it uses a touchpad like on a laptop. The touchpad is standard. To enter the destination or even the phone number, you simply draw the letters or numbers on the touch-sensitive control panel with the index finger of your right hand. The MMI touch can also be used to navigate with the map.
The new input technology functions intuitively and takes no time at all to get used to. Unlike with the touchscreens used by the competition, the right hand is ideally guided because it rests on the selector lever of the eight-speed tiptronic. The finger traces the letters and numbers almost automatically without the driver having to look down to check and see how it's doing. The driver’s eyes stay on the road.
The system acknowledges the input after each character with an acoustic feedback signal . If you make a mistake, a simple swipe from right to left is all that it takes to delete the wrong character. In contrast to voice control, touchpad input is possible even while speaking or listening to an audio source.
The MMI touch technology is based on a network that was supplied with millions of character samples from around the world so that it can be used internationally. It also recognizes Cyrillic, Chinese, Cantonese, Japanese and Korean characters. An intelligent additional feature is the Black Panel technology: Here the pad becomes a control panel containing six programmed radio stations.
Along with MMI touch, the new A8 also offers the familiar Audi operation with the MMI rotary pushbutton. The optional voice control understands complete words, not just individual letters. Audi has made it even better: places and roads can now be spoken as commands, and it can even be used to access music data easily.
Good vibes: the sound systems
A wide range of hi-fi and communication modules are available in addition to the new MMI navigation plus. The luxury sedan comes standard with the Audi Sound System. The balanced system includes a six-channel amplifier with an output of 180 watts, 10 speakers, a DVD drive that can also play MPEG4 videos, two SD card readers for audio files and a dual radio tuner.
A digital processor conditions the signals received by two antennas. One tuner plays music, the other searches in the background for stations. This technology even pulls in weak stations without static, since the reception paths can be combined in such a way that the two antennas act as a directional antenna.
As additional modules, a DAB dual tuner for digital radio is optional, as are a digital TV tuner and a DVD changer in the glove box. The Audi music interface offers USB and Aux-in connections for interfacing with a portable player or an external video source. It displays the directory structure on the monitor so that MMI can be used to control playback.
The next hi-fi level is the Bose surround sound system, in which a digital amplifier drives more than 600 watts through 12 channels to 14 speakers including a subwoofer with a lifelike, finely balanced and simultaneously powerful sound on a strong bass foundation. Thanks to a patented algorithm, the system can also play stereo recordings in five-channel surround sound. The speakers sport Bose logos and chrome frames.
Sparkling brilliance: the Bang & Olufsen Advanced Sound System
At the top of the line is the Bang & Olufsen Advanced Sound System. It is impressive for its sparkling brilliance, detailed resolution and broad, finely differentiated frequency range; in conjunction with MMI navigation plus it also includes a surround sound function. The Danish sound wizards use a proprietary algorithm to generate reflections like those that occur in a concert hall. The Advanced Sound System puts the music on a magnificent virtual stage, with the passengers of the A8 sitting in the front row.
The heart of the Advanced Sound System is formed by two amplifiers with over 1,400 watts of total output. Like most of the infotainment components in the new A8, they are integrated into the rear seatback.
The amplifiers’ extremely efficient digital output stages direct this power through 19 channels to 19 speakers. A visual highlight is achieved by the acoustic lenses on the left and right sides of the cockpit. The two newly designed tweeters are mounted down out of sight and emerge from the dashboard when the system is switched on.
Audi and Bang & Olufsen are partners in pursuit of the same ideals. Both brands value high-end technology, intuitive operation, and premium, technoid design. Both also share an uncompromising attitude with respect to materials and workmanship, and in-depth competence in working with aluminum. Bang & Olufsen uses the lightweight material for the speaker covers.
Entertainment in the back: rear seat entertainment
Audi has developed the rear seat entertainment system for A8 passengers large and small who frequently ride in the back seat. Two 10.2-inch displays – a record-setting 16 millimeters (0.63 in) thin – are integrated in the backrests of the driver and front passenger seats. They can be tilted 10 degrees and they can separately display different content. Sound is supplied via wired or Bluetooth headphones.
The rear seat entertainment system includes a separate single DVD drive, a hard drive jukebox, two slots for SD memory cards, and its own Audi music interface. The system also has full access to the radio, the TV tuner – whose picture can also be seen in the back while underway – the DVD changer, the telephone and the navigation system. A separate large MMI controller in the rear center armrest controls the system – another instance of first-class convenience.
Deluxe communication: telephone and online services
Audi offers a Bluetooth hands-free system and the Bluetooth car phone for stress-free phone calls. Drivers can leave their mobile phone in their jacket pocket; the car phone borrows the data from the SIM card and phone storage via Bluetooth. It uses the vehicle antenna for optimal reception and a digital voice processor ensures excellent hands-free speech quality. The sound system transmits voice signals; the radio volume control regulates the sound level.
The system can be optionally expanded to include two wireless handsets for discreet telephony, one mounted up front and the other in the back. Both users can transfer their calls to the other.
Another option is the GPRS module for data transmission, employing the specialized services of Google. It delivers news and weather information from the Internet to the A8 and is used to find destinations when planning trips. The search function is very versatile and can find terms such as “restaurant” or “shoe store”. A8 drivers can plan their routes down to the last detail on their computers at home, upload them to a special section of the Internet site www.audi.de and from there download them to the navigation system on starting the trip.
During 2010 Audi will add a UMTS module to the data service. The A8 will use the fast connection to download three-dimensional satellite and aerial images from Google Earth and display them in a bird’s eye view on the monitor; the computer fills in the streets. In addition to the images, additional information about the destinations is also delivered to the car.
In another expansion level, the new A8 provides a full connection to the Internet via UMTS, making the sedan a WLAN hotspot on wheels for a laptop in the vehicle. The music stored on a portable player can also be transferred to the vehicle’s system via WLAN. The customer can utilize both the GPRS and UMTS services with a cell phone; no additional fees or separate contracts are required for the new data links.
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.