While most automakers are rolling out new vehicles with displays in their instrument cluster and dash, Audi is taking a different course, consolidating the two screens into something it calls a Virtual Cockpit. Set to debut on the 2014 European versions of the company’s TT coupe, the Virtual Cockpit brings all of the features traditional reserved for in-dash display over to a 12.3-inch 1,440 x 650 resolution screen situated directly behind the car’s steering wheel.
Powered-by an Nvidia Tegra 3 processor, the Virtual Cockpit runs Audi’s second-generation MMI infotainment software at a blisteringly fast 60 frames per second, ensuring that the virtual tachometer and speedometer always show the exact RPMs and MPH. Between the tach and speedo, is where you’ll find everything from the navigation and audio screens to the settings. In Classic view the center window appears smaller while the tachometer and speedometer are roughly the same sizes as those you would find on today’s mechanical instrument clusters.
In Infotainment mode, the central window expands, shrinking the speedometer and tachometer, putting a greater emphasis on the various navigation, phone and audio menus and settings. Like Audi’s previous generation infotainment system, the Virtual Cockpit can be controlled via steering wheel-mounted buttons or the MMI Terminal situated in the center console.
During our brief time with the Virtual Cockpit, we found the display to be beautiful and controls easy to use. An added benefit of moving the interface away from the center console to the instrument cluster is that it limits how far away form the road the driver has to look to see the navigation system.
When Audi brings the 2014 TT to the road, it will offer one of the most interesting infotainment systems around. And we can’t wait to get behind the wheel.