Audi recently introduced an all new instrument display for the company’s upcoming 3rd generation TT sports car, and it is nothing short of stunning.
Gone are the physical gauges and separate multimedia screens: In its place is a single high definition integrated LCD.
Introduced at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, Audi’s “virtual cockpit” features a new 12.3 inch TFT-LCD that integrates the driver’s telemetry and the car’s info-tainment system into a single unit.
The new display system is also fully customisable. It also has a glaring omission, which we’ll get to in a moment.
Audi’s virtual cockpit functions in three modes: a “driving mode,” a “navigation mode” and a “media mode.”
In driving mode, the new display takes the form of a traditional, yet sporty, instrument cluster with the driver’s speedo and tach displayed prominently.
In navigation mode, the driver’s gauges are pushed to the lower corners of the screen with the navigation map taking center stage. In this mode, the driver’s eyes will no longer need to stray towards a separate navigation unit.
Finally, in media mode, the gauges are again pushed to the periphery of the screen while this time, it is the car’s multimedia options that take up the majority of the display.
All modes take full advantage of Audi’s intuitive multimedia interface, which incorporates a new script pad on top of the scroll knob.
The quality of the TFT-LCD display screen used is top-notch, and worthy of any high end smart phone or tablet.
Despite all of the new features that Audi has included in its virtual cockpit, there was a surprising omission.
In the company’s interior mock-up, displayed for the press at CES, the TT’s interior lacked a traditional center console. That means TT passengers will not only lose their ability to see the navigation screen, but also the ability to access the car’s many multimedia options.
Some believe that Audi may have another trick up its sleeves. The guys at Engadget speculated that Audi’s omission of the center console may signal their intention to offer the TT with an in-car tablet.
Called the Audi Smart Display, the 10.2 inch tablet, which also made its debut at CES, will be able to access multimedia, navigation, and climate control by tapping into the car’s onboard WiFi.
The brushed aluminium-wrapped Audi Smart Display will be powered by an NVIDIA Tegra 4 chipset, and run Google’s Android operating system. The company has not yet revealed the cost of this option.
Since its debut in 1998, the TT has had a love-hate relationship with its status as a trendy fashion accessory. While its popularity with a certain segment of the population drove early demand for the car, the company has struggled to change the public’s perception to that of a serious sports car.
In order to shake the TT’s status as a late ’90s fashion icon, Audi had design chief Walter de Silva create a second-generation model featuring a more modern and aggressive aesthetic.
De Silva, the man most famous for designing Audi’s groundbreaking R8 supercar, gave the 2007 Mark II TT sporty, flared wheel-arches and a large, menacing grill, tied together by a higher more athletic beltline.
With the introduction of the virtual cockpit, Audi has transferred this sporting theme to the car’s interior. For the upcoming, third generation TT, Audi reinforces the car’s sporting pretensions with an integrated driver-centric display panel.
It is still unclear which changes Audi plan to make to the display interface between now and production. But we’re looking forward to taking the new model out for a spin as soon as it’s off the line.
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