Want to know the ins and outs of Audi’s MMI infotainment system? We have all the answers.
Almost all modern cars have some form of infotainment system, and the proprietary names for these often become well known. BMW’s iDrive system and Mercedes’ MBUX are two examples of this, as is Audi’s MMI setup.
Short for Multi-Media Interface, MMI first appeared in the Audi A8 of 2002, where it brought together stereo, navigation and vehicle-control systems into a single electronic interface, which was then controlled by a small joystick.
While the principle behind MMI hasn’t fundamentally changed over the last two decades, the control methods and features on offer have. Here, we detail what you can expect from MMI systems past and present.
What can MMI do?
What can’t MMI do would perhaps be a better question here, such is the sophistication of modern infotainment setups.
We’ll cover Audi’s current MMI setups here (yes, plural: different models of Audi can have different versions of MMI), breaking the various functions down by category.
If an MMI system has sat-nav, postcodes and destinations will be inputted (though other input methods are offered – see below) and displayed on the touchscreen. Some Audi MMI systems also feature Google Maps integration. Not that you will necessarily need the car-based sat-nav, as the current MMI setup comes standard with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, which leads us to…
Car makers have realised that new smartphones are developed and released way more quickly than new cars and are therefore more up to date, so most (including Audi with MMI) systems provide interfaces to allow your phone to talk to the infotainment system.
Around 10 years ago this might have simply comprised a Bluetooth connection allowing you to take phone calls and play music from your phone, but today CarPlay and Auto allow you to mirror your phone on the MMI screen, allowing you to access music, podcasts, navigation and more through your phone without having to touch it (therefore helping you to stay on the right side of the law.
Oh, and phones have become so much more than simple communication devices these days that we almost forgot: you can make phone calls via MMI if your phone is plugged in.
Music and stereo controls
Need to adjust the stereo’s bass, balance or fader? Head to the MMI touchscreen. Plus while smartphone connectivity is great, you may not want to plug your phone into your car for every journey. Here, MMI will be your port of call, allowing you to choose radio stations or use any other methods of listening to music in the car that you have at your disposal, such as…
Audi Connect services
You’ll need a paid subscription to access this, but if you have one, Audi’s Connect online services will offer a number of features. Streaming music is one of these, with Apple Music added to some cars with Audi Connect in May 2022.
Other services available with Connect via MMI include local fuel-price information, weather forecasts and parking availability in your area.
Vehicle settings and creature comforts
Again, this will vary from car to car, but numerous vehicle and comfort settings can be accessed via Audi’s MMI system.
Want to adjust the brightness or colour of the ambient lighting? Need to configure an individual driving mode? Do your Audi’s headlights stay on for too long after you’ve parked up? Could your aching back do with the massaging seats being activated? Head to the MMI screen.
What does Audi MMI look like and how does it work?
This will depend on which model of Audi you have, as different cars feature different setups.
MMI screens can be placed flush with the centre control stack, rest proud of the dashboard above the air-conditioning vents or rise up from the top of the dashboard, while on a couple of models (see below) there is no dedicated central screen at all.
The entry-level Audi A1 supermini has an 8.8-inch MMI infotainment touchscreen, and this system is known as MMI Touch. This is situated in the centre of the dashboard above the heating controls, giving you access to radio and media audio functionality, plus vehicle settings, telephone synchronisation and sat-nav (if fitted).
You simply use the touchscreen as you would a mobile phone, tapping on the icons that represent the functions you want to access, then making adjustments in a similar fashion. There is also a handwriting function that allows you to draw your finger across the screen to input letters for sat-nav routing, for example.
Coupled with the MMI system is Audi’s Virtual Cockpit. This is standard on all models of A1 (and all Audis), and comprises a 12.3-inch digital display in place of an analogue speedometer and rev counter. Many MMI functions can be accessed via the Virtual Cockpit, which is itself controlled via buttons and dials on the steering wheel.
Moving up the range, the Audi A3 family hatch also has MMI Touch, though this is in a larger 10.1-inch touchscreen with sat-nav as standard. The MMI system in the A3 works broadly in the same manner as it does in the A1.
Some older versions of MMI feature a touchpad and rotary control wheel for MMI inputs, though on later version almost all inputs are via the screen itself.
MMI Touch Response
Newer, and higher-end Audis feature an improved version of MMI, known as MMI Touch Response.
Debuting on the current Audi A8 that was launched in 2017, the Touch Response MMI system features two screens (three if you count the Virtual Cockpit). One screen sits above the other in the dashboard, with the top one functioning much like the system in the A1 and A3, controlling the stereo, sat-nav and vehicle settings.
The lower screen is mainly used for climate-control settings, with temperature and fan speed, plus heated-seat controls situated here. The lower screen also becomes the place where you input handwriting gestures for inputting route-guidance destinations.
Another feature of MMI Touch Response that earlier MMI systems do not have is haptic feedback. This means that when you press an icon on the screen, it vibrates in the location you have pressed, confirming your selection. Touch Select also allows you to drag and drop icons to rearrange the screen’s layout.
Audi MMI in action
This YouTube video shows the Audi A6’s MMI Touch Response system in action (click play and it will start at the relevant section automatically).
Do different Audis have different versions of MMI?
Yes. As discussed above, higher-end current-model Audis feature the MMI Touch Response setup, with less expensive cars getting the slightly less sophisticated system – though some may prefer the physical buttons for the climate-control system these cars feature.
If you’re looking at second-hand Audis, which version of MMI you get will depend on what model of car you’re interested in, as well as how old the car is.
The MMI system has evolved over recent years, with the previous-generation Audi A3, and early models of the current Audi Q7 featuring a screen that rises from the top of the dashboard. All current Audis have a fixed screen, though.
Which Audi models have which MMI system?
All current Audis have some version of MMI, so instead of listing them all, we’ll highlight cars with MMI Touch Response.
- Audi A6
- Audi A7
- Audi A8
- Audi Q7
- Audi Q8
- Audi e-tron
Model derivatives (EG the e-tron Sportback or the Audi RS3) share whichever MMI system the model on which they are based (IE the e-tron and A3) features.
If an Audi isn’t listed here, that means it doesn’t feature Touch Response, instead having the older single-screen setup.
Do note that if you’re browsing Audi’s range, MMI Touch is the single-screen setup, and is different from MMI Touch Response. Perhaps counterintuitively, the Audi e-tron GT features MMI Touch rather than MMI Touch Response, despite being a newer model than many of the cars with the newer system.
The Audi R8 and TT are different
The Audi R8 supercar and TT sports cars do not have a central infotainment screen. Despite this, they still features the MMI system, with all functionality displayed via the 12.3-inch digital dashboard display, known by Audi as the Virtual Cockpit. The R8 and TT’s MMI interface is via a rotary dial positioned by the gearlever on the central transmission tunnel, though most functions can also be controlled via buttons and dials on the steering wheel.
Audi MMI FAQs
Is Audi Connect the same as Audi MMI?
No. Audi Connect is an online service that is an additional feature to the MMI system. Audi Connect is an online feature that brings music streaming, parking, weather, fuel-price and other information to the MMI screen.
Can you watch TV on Audi MMI?
No, though some systems (such as the one on the Audi A8) come with a DVD player, and TV tuners have been offered in the past.
How do I connect my phone on Audi MMI?
This depends on the model, though MMI typically offers Bluetooth connectivity, as well as a wired USB connection. Newer MMI systems come standard with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto for full smartphone mirroring; these systems tend to require plugging your phone in via USB, although wireless CarPlay and Auto are available on newer models.
How do I reset my Audi MMI system?
Again, this will depend on the car and MMI system. In some models, holding down the radio and map button, then pressing the central MMI control dial will force a reset. There may also be an option to reset MMI through the system’s own settings. Consult you owner handbook or an authorised Audi dealer for more information.
Can I update my Audi MMI system?
Without wishing to sound like a broken record, there is no one-size-fits-all answer to this. You may need to create a myAudi account and download an update to a USB drive or SD card that you can then plug into the MMI system; some updates may need to be applied by dealers, while some map updates can be delivered via wireless internet using over-the-air (OTA) technology.
Is Audi MMI any good?
Yes, in short. It may not be quite as good as Mercedes’ MBUX or BMW’s iDrive, but MMI is a comprehensive and generally easy-to-use system. And while not everyone is a fan of the touchscreen-based climate-control MMI Touch Response brings, this tends to be relatively easy to get used to. The Virtual Cockpit digital driver’s display that MMI comes with is an excellent piece of kit, too.
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