Audi is showing off the 2016 Q7 next week in Detroit, but to milk the hype of its new essyouvee, it trotted out a mock-up of the interior for the throngs at CES. And it's as daunting as the Q7 is massive. What's it got? A virtual cockpit AND a dash tablet. Screens everywhere!
First, Audi has gone down the same path as other automakers, basically slapping a tablet screen on the dash and calling it a day. This shit needs to end.
Powering that is Audi/VW's new Modular Infotainment Matrix (MIB II), Audi Connect, and Audi MMI.
The new MMI includes a freaking huge touchpad with haptic feedback to write individual letters, pinch and zoom, and assign favorites for everything from destinations to radio presets at the top. The central control knob is still there for scrolling through menus, but it's all been paired down with a set of toggles on each side, soft buttons for the Menu and Back controls, and placed ahead of the shifter – which could just act as a wrist holder.
Audi is also doubling-down on voice recognition with "free-text MMI search". It basically turns your car into a search engine. Just press the voice button and it doesn't matter where you are in the menu, you can simply ask questions ("Where's the nearest In N Out?"), search songs, and make a call with a natural-language command.
The Virtual Cockpit has been ported from the TT, with a 12.3-inch TFT screen replacing the gauges and allowing a fair amount of customization to display the right information at the right time.
Audi Connect is now included with a LTE so you can connect multiple devices and feed off the same data connection. Android Auto and Apple CarPlay come along for the ride, as does its new Online Media Streaming with access to 20 million songs from Aupeo and, yes, Napster.
Finally, Audi will let drivers use either their smartphone and possibly your smartwatch to open the car. Swipe your phone on the door handle and if your phone has NFC, it will open the doors using the Audi Mobile Key app. It also provides up-to-the-minute vehicle information and can control everything from locking the doors to heating the seats, although Audi isn't exactly forthcoming on all the details.
We'll ask around when we see it in Detroit next week.