For me Audi is one of those car brands which I know (leaving the digital emissions scandal behind for a minute) has a great reputation and produces great cars. But somehow I can never quite get excited about their models. Given the choice I’d almost certainly plump for a Mercedes or a BMW, both their deadly rivals..
Yet after having driven the new A4, I’m beginning to think that I may have done them an injustice over the years. Looks-wise it seems to me there’s not much to distinguish this latest A4 from its predecessor. Sure it’s a little longer and a little higher than the previous model, but in terms of style and design it’s very much an evolution and not a revolution.
However inside it’s a completely different story. This Audi A4 is like stepping on board a spaceship after having been used to a little propellor plane. Indeed Audi even refers to the ‘virtual cockpit’. Here you will find all the driving controls, information about the car (miles per gallon, speed etc), all within a 12.3inch LCD display complete with graphics.
As Audi’s John Zammett, Head of PR, Audi UK told journalists at the press conference for the UK launch in Newbury: “The A4 has the most advanced onboard technology we’ve ever introduced. This is the new ball game – it’s where the competition lies. These days you need to be fully connected.”
Multi Media Interface (MMI)
Using the view button on the steering wheel (not easy when you are driving) you can toggle between different displays including a very impressive navigation overlay on top of satellite imagery. So if you are driving around posh houses in The Cotswolds, as we were during our test drives, you can make out swimming pools and tennis courts in large back gardens!
Nor is this the only display onboard. In addition there is a central 7 inch LCD panel (which Audi calls the MMI, Multimedia Interface) where you can find the A4’s ‘infotainment’ system. As the A4 is an extremely popular company car, Audi has provided connections for not one but two smartphones – one for personal use and one for business use. There’s even an inductive charging base for Android phones although for Apple you will need to use one of the USB connections provided.
Obviously Audi isn’t the first car manufacturer to provide incar smartphone integration, but this is easily the most sophisticated setup I’ve seen.