New Third-Generation Advanced Multi-Media Interface Introduced on AUDi's Q5 SUV
January 29, 2009
As more and more electronic gadgets and conveniences find their way into automobiles, it's only natural that they'll continue to look better and become easier to operate. Audi is taking another big leap forward with the latest version of its Multi-Media Interface technology, set to debut on the new Audi Q5 SUV.
Audi's latest MMI system is a hard drive-based system with its biggest advances in the interface and the graphics. For the former, Audi has created a new joystick control that moves in eight directions to make navigating through the menus and options more like using a computer mouse. The system sounds very similar to Toyota's new Remote Touch controller, found on the new Lexus RX, a Q5 competitor and a sytem we found very intuitive to use.
The second major facet of the new MMI system is the new display screen. The Q5 receives a seven-inch in-dash TFT-LCD screen powered by an Nvidia graphics processor. This processor, combine with the screen's impressive 800 x 480 pixel-resolution, allows the drive to utilize a new 3D map mode that gives a birds-eye view of the map and includes real-time traffic information, branded points-of-interest, topography and the outlines of large buildings in major cities to aid with navigation. Audi promises that the most recognizable buildings in major cities will appear in near-authentic visual quality.
Also advancing the MMI system is an updated voice-recognition system that can locate destinations in the navigation system without the need to spell out cities, street names or businesses. Not only does the system recognize complete words, but it recognizes them in several languages. When using the vehicle's phone system, the voice-recognition system will also recognize names and other text so you don't have to create special voice tags for every entry. Speaking of entries, the system can now hold 2,000 entries with up to five different phone numbers each.
The navigation and phone directory information is stored on an in-dash 40 GB hard drive that can also store your music. In fact, up to 10 GB of hard drive space, or about 2,000 songs, can be stored on the vehicle's hard drive for easy access. The hard drive also stores an electronic logbook for the vehicle. The system is backed up by an 800 MHz chip and a 500 MHz signal processor that allow all the applications - the nav, voice-recognition, telephone and stereo - to operate simultaneously without interruption. Audi promises that the Nvidia chip will allow for high resolution, smooth animations and cross fading and a crystal clear screen, even in low-light conditions.
The latest MMI system isn't all work and no play, though. In addition to the built-in jukebox, the system also features a DVD drive for watching movies while the vehicle is stopped. Check all the boxes and you'll also get Dolby Digital 5.1 surround sound for the best movie watching experience. Audi says the joystick control will make navigating through DVD menus extremely easy. When the vehicle is in motion, you can enjoy music from your hard drive or from a CD, an SD card or an iPod with the built-in connectors. The Sirius Satellite Radio system has also been upgraded to allow you to preview artist and track titles on other stations without changing the station or interrupting the music.
We drove a Q5 not long ago and came away impressed with both the vehicle and the new interface system. Of course, one drive is never enough, so we look forward to getting behind the wheel again for a full test in the near future. If we're lucky, we'll see a production model at the Chicago Auto Show next month before it goes on sale in the U.S. in March.
*Note: All photos are of the European-spec Audi Q5