There is a lot to like about Audi’s latest MMI (Multi Media Interface) infotainment system. For starters, it features a gorgeous design. Audi has integrated its dual-screen displays in the same fashion on its upper echelon models (A6, A7, A8, Q7, Q8, E-Tron), and the result is a modern, yet inviting appearance. Other cheaper models will run the same software, but are limited to the single screen. Dual-screen layouts like this one have frustrated us before. It’s always a guessing game to figure out what control is in what screen, making the learning curve just that much steeper.
Audi improves on this by removing most of the guesswork. From the second the car is turned on, it’s immediately apparent that the bottom 8.6-inch screen is for climate control, and the top 10.1-inch screen is for nearly every other traditional infotainment control. Your music, navigation, settings and other items are all found within the top screen. Just like a smartphone or tablet, the displays are customizable. The basic home screen in the top display shows rows of app tiles like an iPad, and you can move those around at your will. Similarly, the bottom screen has a single row of items at the top that can be moved around or dropped from quick access at your discretion. It allows you to set the screen up to best fit your needs, which is a feature most modern infotainment systems have.
The lack of physical buttons for the climate control system could be off-putting at first, but we quickly became accustomed to the controls. It uses a haptic feedback system that provides a tangible click feeling to your fingers when you press down on the screen. The feedback is akin to pressing a fancy, flat button. Of course, you can also turn this haptic feedback system off and have it operate like a traditional phone’s touchscreen. Both work wonderfully, but the haptic feature cuts down on false touches, as you need to put pressure on the screen for it to register the input.
Audi’s UX toes the line between chic and basic. The backgrounds are deep, dark blacks, which allow the big icons to stand out on the screen for easy navigation through menus. Swiping around and flying through menus never induced any lag or stutters. It doesn’t feel too far removed from the experience of modern computer technology, which is something we can’t say for every infotainment system out there.
Both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are on offer, but CarPlay can be done wirelessly if you so choose. Android Auto is wired-only. Though, this is one car we’re less likely to be caught using the smartphone apps for navigation. Audi makes finding an address or point of interest remarkably easy via voice or a smart search function (requires cell data service). Plus, we’re huge fans of the Google Earth-like navigation map views — it brings a level of sophistication not seen in competing navigation systems. You can even take advantage of Audi’s high-tech graphics for the nav in the Digital Cockpit, encouraging us to rely on the native guidance even more.
If a few people will be driving the car, Audi lets you set up profiles that can be customized to specific infotainment layouts for that individual. And finally, perhaps the most impressive thing about this infotainment system is that it just plain works. There are no gimmicks like gesture controls or voice assistants. It does all of the stuff we want it to do, and the UX is executed in a simplistic enough manner that it doesn’t become frustrating.