Tech of the Year: Audi Virtual Cockpit

Good tech should make our lives easier, safer, hassle-free – and, if it looks great, that’s a bonus. If it manages all of those things and doesn’t cost a fortune, then it’s truly outstanding.

Tech of the Year: Audi Virtual Cockpit

Audi’s Virtual Cockpit is just one such piece of technology. It’s a 12.3in TFT screen that replaces the standard analogue dials and trip computer. It’s powered by an Nvidia Tegra 30 quad-core chip, meaning it’s got some serious grunt to back up the handsome visuals.

On the move, it’s easy to cycle between the screens to display trip information, audio settings and menu items, but its party piece is to shrink the speedometer and rev counter down and allow you to set the navigation to full screen. Particularly impressive is the way is can incorporate Google Maps satellite imagery.

While some might dismiss this as fruitless duplication of the main, centrally-mounted screen, the fact is that by making the map larger and placing it more directly in the driver’s light of sight, it’s easier to use – and safer. It also still displays the same turn instructions as the main screen.

Despite the huge range of features, Audi Virtual Cockpit is stunningly easy to operate. The driver can use voice control, the main MMI command wheel or the steering wheel-mounted buttons and thumbwheels to operate various functions. It’s so easy that, after a couple of days, Virtual Cockpit feels like second nature to use.

At what price this technology? Just £450 or, if you’re buying on a PCP, less than a cup of posh coffee a week. What’s more, this isn’t tech that’s reserved for Audi’s high-end A8 luxury saloon or R8 supercar. You can have this fitted in your Audi A3, A4, A5, Q2 or Q7. It even comes as standard in the Audi TT.

It’s also offered as part of various Technology Packs, which include trick features such as wireless charging and handwriting recognition technology, allowing you to write characters with your finger on top of the MMI wheel.

If there’s one piece of in-car technology that defines 2016, and will lead the way over the coming years, it’s Audi Virtual Cockpit.

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