The humble instrument panel has operated unchanged for decades. For the best part of a century, cars have used a clock-type dial to measure road speed, a couple of dials to inform the driver of fuel level and coolant temperature, and perhaps a rev counter in sportier vehicles.
Now though, Volkswagen Group – including Audi – believes it has moved things firmly into 2015. The mechanical clocks are gone. Meet Audi Virtual Cockpit – also known in Volkswagen models as Active Info Display.
What is Virtual Cockpit?
The system replaces the standard dials with a 12.3-inch TFT digital screen. This displays the information that you’d previously find, re-imagined in a digital format – you can still see the speed and engine revs easily, but you can customise the screen to suit you.
What are the benefits?
The greatest plus is that the high resolution screen allows the information displayed to be infinitely customisable. In what Audi calls “Classic View” the screen predominantly shows the speedometer and rev counter, with secondary functions set in the background. However, if you’re lost and need to make more use of the satellite navigation, for example, switching to “Infotainment mode” – via the likes of Audi’s MMI – shrinks the dials, and more prominently displays the map in the centre.
Beyond this, the display can show other functions such as fuel level, tyre pressures, or music/radio information. It can even be tweaked to show a compass if you’re too luddite to use the sat nav. If the car is equipped with a reversing camera, the images pop up on Virtual Cockpit.
As well as menu customisation, the tech allows a wide range of designs for the system’s graphics – as can be seen by the different designs found in Audi, Volkswagen and Lamborghini versions of the display. In addition to all of this, the bright, backlit screen means that the dials are incredibly clear and easy to read, even in bright sunlight.
Want a car with this cool system?
If you’re keen on the new tech, then see what the critics think of the cars that use it in our full reviews of the Audi TT, Q7 and R8, the Volkswagen Passat and the Lamborghini Huracan. The soon-to-be-released Audi A4 will make use of Virtual Cockpit, too. More info can be found on the all-new BMW 3 Series rival on our blog post.