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Future Audi Interiors Will Be A Button-Less, Screen-Filled Dystopia

Illustration for article titled Future Audi Interiors Will Be A Button-Less, Screen-Filled Dystopia
Photo: Audi

If you’ve followed me this far on this website, then you’ll know I love car interiors with buttons, dials and switches. That’s not exactly a brave stance, as literally every breathing person in this world feels this way, but I hate touchscreens and will argue against them until my last dying breath. It seems, however, as though we are fighting a losing battle when it comes to Audi’s future interior design.

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Audi MMI Touch Response infotainment system is already quite screen-heavy; there’s a 12.3-inch digital gauge cluster to start. Then there’s an 8.6-inch touchscreen for the climate and another 10.3-inch touchscreen for the infotainment. These screens infect the current Audi A8, A7, A6 and Q8.

Though at least there’s still a volume knob.

Hello, sweet prince
Hello, sweet prince
Photo: Audi
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The screens won’t stop there, though, according to Motor Authority. Audi design boss Marc Lichte told the outlet that “augmented reality head-up [displays]” are next. Once this new technology is implemented, the digital gauge cluster could shrink in size because it won’t need to contain as much information. And the two massive touchscreens in the middle of the dash might merge and become one, like some gross cell fusion situation. Or to mimic the Tesla Model 3. Take your pick.

Depressingly, Motor Authority presses on:

While today’s setup has a real volume knob, Lichte said in the future there will be no more buttons. The traditional volume knob will disappear, but some sort of alternative will remain, likely a volume rocker on the steering wheel for those who don’t want to use the touchscreen or voice controls.

An excellent bone to throw at folks who like volume knobs. Put it on the steering wheel! Don’t let anyone but the driver access it! Now shut the fuck up about knobs already!

My beef with screens comes primarily because they are distracting to use while driving. My car is from 2002, which means it still has plenty of buttons, dials and switches that control everything. My muscle memory tells me where the buttons are, so I rarely have to look down.

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Illustration for article titled Future Audi Interiors Will Be A Button-Less, Screen-Filled Dystopia
Photo: Audi

Even if you generally know where you need to press on a touchscreen, you’ll still need to look down more often than not to confirm. You can’t just feel around for the right button. What happens if the touchscreen glitches or gets stuck? Will you be trapped and unable to turn off the air conditioning? You’ll freeze! We’ve all experienced menus we can’t back out of before. Does that mean we’ll all have to get used to the hard-resetting (turning off then turning back on) of our cars, too?

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And finally, fingerprints. Sure, a touchscreen looks all futuristic, colorful and pretty when it’s on. But when it’s off? A smattering of greasy paw prints because you went to In-N-Out and didn’t wash off the Animal Style before you got back into your car.

The screens are getting out of control. Fewer screens, please. The people (and also me) demand it.

Writer at Jalopnik and consumer of many noodles.

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DISCUSSION

marshamk
NoamChomskyExceptJacked

When a car is moving and bouncing, your finger can wobble on its way to a touch screen target and land on an unintended button. This usually leads to some sub-menu you then have to back out of (by hitting other buttons on a touch screen...)

Yet another reason to seriously consider Mazda these days. We have a 2017 CX9 Signature (the top trim). Not saying it’s gonna blow the doors of a Q7 performance-wise (though it may in terms of reliability...) but Mazda has integrated into its display system a very pared-down, simplistic and dare i say intuitive rotary knob/button and separate volume knob. In our several months of ownership, I have noticed that the knob feels built out of stone, feels great, and the clicking detentes are solid and unmistakable. There is just something about a button or knob clicking in to place just the right way so you know it did without even looking. They match perfectly with the action on the Carplay display. Additionally, Mazda disables the touch screen while in motion- you have to use the knob- and this is good because no fingerprints on the screen. In fact, I never use it in that fashion at all. It all works really, really well.