These screens represent the newest generation of Audi’s MMI system, which does away with the familiar rotary dial. In fact, it does away with most buttons entirely, opting instead for touch controls with aural and visual haptic feedback through both screens.
Audi calls it MMI Touch Response and it offers a lot of new functions. It offers an LTE Advanced hotspot for a wi-fi connection, which Audi says is a world first; hybrid radio functionality that can switch between FM, AM, and online radio to maintain a station when you drive out of its broadcast range; and advanced natural voice recognition that connects to the cloud and can provide Yelp ratings for restaurants and the like. In my limited time with the system, it seems to work well. It's quick and it seems to be intuitive. I'll have to live with this system to render an informed opinion, though.
MMI comes paired with the Audi Virtual Cockpit digital instrument panel display that is configurable and can show things like the navigation map, audio selections, and phone, and other vehicle settings. Altogether, these screens bristle with technology that seems to fit perhaps more in an Audi than it might in a Mercedes or a Bentley.
2019 Audi A8 AI buttonEnlarge Photo
Tech on top of tech
It’s almost as if my napping companion could be napping behind the wheel, too. A lot has been made of the 2019 Audi A8 being the first car to offer Level 3 autonomy in the U.S. Unfortunately, this car doesn’t have it and I haven’t been able to test it on this trip. However, the system will take over steering, braking, and acceleration in some very specific situations. The car must be traveling at speeds of 37 mph and below, there must be a hard barrier to the car’s left side—like a concrete lane divider or a line of cars—and there must be a vehicle in front of the car. Audi’s Traffic Jam Pilot is an appropriate name.
It’s unclear if this system will be available at launch simply because it may not be legal in the U.S. A bill is likely to come before the Senate in the coming months that could change that, but it may not be in time to equip the cars with the system. Only time will tell.
Audi AI Parking PilotEnlarge Photo
2019 Audi A8 Maneuver AssistEnlarge Photo
Audi Remote Garage PilotEnlarge Photo
In the meantime, the 2019 will certainly offer some other cool tech. The Traffic Jam Pilot will be run through an AI button on the center console. The other feature run through this button is the Audi AI Parking Pilot, which can scan for perpendicular and parallel spots and control the steering, acceleration, braking, shifting, and gears to put the car in them and then get it out. The driver need only stop the car, then hit and hold that Audi AI button.
Two more notable semi-autonomous functions will be offered. The Maneuver Assist function will give steering suggestions in tight spaces to keep the car from hitting objects at speeds of 6 mph and below or apply the brakes to stop the car if it will hit something. Audi Remote Garage Pilot works through a smartphone app. Hold the AI button on the app and you can move the car into a garage spot remotely. It’s best used if the car will be parked too close to a wall or another vehicle for you to get in or out.
It might be great to sleep in the 2019 Audi A8, but it's better to drive it. This car is at the forefront of technology, yet it doesn't forget buyers who value luxury and sportiness. The cossetting is obvious in the cabin, the refinement, an the ride quality, while the sportiness is made possible by some advanced suspension systems. Buyers will have to spend a pretty penny to make the A8 handle as well as it can and to get all the comfort and tech features, but the base car is no slouch, either. It won't be out for about a year, but it will be worth the wait.
Audi provided travel and lodging to Internet Brands Automotive to bring you this firsthand report.