Audi TT's virtual cockpit blends the old and the new


August 13, 2014

Navigation, audio, phone and car-info is all displayed on Audi's virtual cockpit

Navigation, audio, phone and car-info is all displayed on Audi's virtual cockpit

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The rise of in-car infotainment systems has seen electronic displays vying with traditional instrumentation, such as the speedometer, odometer and tachometer, for dashboard space and driver attention. Audi's solution that will be featured in its new third-generation TT is to combine the old with the new in its "virtual cockpit."

Having made it its debut in the Lamborghini Huracan, Audi’s virtual cockpit places a 12.3-inch TFT screen behind the steering wheel where the standard instrumentation would usually sit. In addition to displaying information about speed and revs, the system can also display navigation and media info and car settings.

Being a TFT display, the virtual cockpit allows the way the information is laid out to be changed depending on driver preferences. In “classic" mode, the binnacle is dominated by a traditional speedo and rev-counter, while information about navigation and the car’s entertainment systems are pushed to the middle to minimize distractions. This mode most closely mirrors a traditional setup.

In “infotainment” mode, however, the car will push details about maps, audio or phone to the front, and speed and revs are displayed on small readouts in the bottom corners of the display. This allows easy management of the MMI entertainment system, and takes the place of a screen mounted on the center console.

On the TTS model there is also a third "sport" mode, with the dials dominating the display area.

Audi has paid special attention to making the instruments look and feel natural. The system is powered by a quad-core Nvidia Tegra processor, running a special 3D program that allows the rev-counter to refresh at 60 frames per-second. This means all animations should stay smooth and give feedback similar to that provided by analog dials.

Beside its cool factor, there are a number of benefits to this design. The potential for customization is enormous, with the system having the potential to allow a fully individualized binnacle, where the screen displays only the information that the driver wants to see.

Additionally, by packing everything into the instrument binnacle, there's no need for a separate display on the center console. From a design perspective, this means everything is directly in front of the driver and the console can also be cleaner and simpler. This is something Audi has clearly focused on, something that is further evidenced by Audi packing the TT’s air-conditioning controls into the car’s three central air vents.

Tied in with the car's virtual cockpit is the optional 12 speaker, 680 W Bang & Olufsen sound system. The system uses a microphone to analyze potentially intrusive sounds and then tailors the speaker output to compensate. The system is coupled with Audi's Symphoria software, which separates the different elements of each piece of audio before distributing them among the car's speakers to create what Audi claims is a "wider and deeper" sound.

Source: Audi

About the Author
Scott Collie Based in Melbourne, Australia, Scott grew up with a passion for cars and a love of writing. He now combines the two by covering all things automotive for Gizmag. When he’s got a spare moment, you can usually find him freezing himself silly in search of fresh powder to ski. All articles by Scott Collie

Excellent! I hope that other manufacturers follow Audi's lead.

Mel Tisdale

I think that is really cool. I would rather have entertainment in the center console so that a passenger could have the option of choosing a radio station or play music (mp3 or cd). It would be nice if the navigation was also on the center console so ones 'navigator' could see and use it. IMO, too much in front of the driver is a distraction.


I really like the map view on this. I would be concern about having my gages all virtual like that in that I know how often tech fails and would be concerned of completely disabling my car if the screen goes out or something.

Rann Xeroxx

Expand this to other Audi models & lisc for other automakers alone to produce & or install in used models Awesome Mass produce

Stephen Russell

This is counter intuitive to the HUD, peering through the steering wheel into the binnacle while trying to decipher dozens of varying displays multiple functions most of which are useless information.

60 frames per second for the tachometer on an automatic transmission!

What for, why the information overload, deliberately distracting from driving, this is the worst information system I have ever seen, tiny lettering and symbols are dangerous to try to read and will lead to disaster. Bad enough with the texting, and phone conversations.

Eliminate everything but speed & fuel, possibly engine temperature, ....everything else is secondary.

K.I.S.S Keep It Stupid Simple

Even if all gauges failed, any good driver would have a relatively good idea of how fast he/she is going, and what fuel remains.

Bob Flint

There is already a customizable LCD dash in the new Cadillac CTS. I'm not sure I'd want to show maps on the dash, though: that's taking someone's eyes off the road for too long.


I love that Audi is moving the data display under the dashboard where there's much less chance for direct sunlight to kill the contrast. I believe that a good solution to the passenger (when there is one) having access to stereo system controls, is to provide a tablet that acts as the the passengers' interface, and I also believe that Audi is doing just that.

However, Audi's decision to go with aluminum wiring in the third generation TT has taken me right out of the market for that car. It has been pointed out to me that with the advent of modern battery technology, there's no reason they couldn't raise the voltage and use smaller wires rather than switch to aluminum if they're really worried about the weight of their wiring.

John Banister
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