Audi’s more luxurious models--the A6, A7, and A8--might benefit from whiz-bang technology, but the humble A3 has soldiered on with a simpler system. Not anymore: Audi used its stand at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas to unveil the new A3’s interior, featuring a couple of new, first-for-Audi infotainment features.
From the looks of it, the A3’s interior is not business as usual. The dashboard is dominated by circular air vents and a pop-up LCD monitor, looking like a futuristic version of the current A1’s cabin. There’s basically nothing but cup holders fore of the shifter, and that’s because the controls for all of the non-HVAC systems are accessed through a revised controller aft of the shifter. It’s an advanced version of Audi’s current Multimedia Interface.
The system is controlled by a newly redesigned version of the MMI Touch system found in the A6, A7, and A8. This time, instead of a dedicated touch panel that allows drivers to draw letters on it, the touch-sensitive part has been moved to the top of the large wheel. It’s the larger of two wheels: there’s a smaller wheel aft of the large one and to the right, which provides instant audio control with on/off, volume, and forward/back track.
As before, the wheel is flanked by four large soft keys, but it also gets two rocker switches to quickly access features like navigation and audio.
So where does the more come from? That would be the system’s hardware. Audi has plans to install a 1.2 GHz processor from Nvidia on the A3, with plans to put even more power inside with a 1.4 GHz processor. If that’s not enough power, Audi also promises that its current system is modular: the processor is mounted on a logic board that can be removed and upgraded.
As for screens, there are more of them, and with more graphics on them. The seven-inch pop-up screen has been tweaked for more efficiency, and it sits in front of three head-up displays mounted on the dashboard: one for the driver, one for the front passenger, and one for the rear-seat passengers. The driver’s HUD is designed with augmented reality in mind: the system will simulate putting arrows on the pavement outside, and flag cars ahead when the active cruise control is on.
If you need more signal for your cell phone, there’s that too: the armrest storage connects to an exterior mobile phone antenna, and serves as a signal booster. Future versions may also house inductive charging.
All this is wrapped up in a fairly simple looking package, according to the photos. Looking a bit closer at these photos, however, and you’ll see something more special than a processor or rotary knob: it’s a computer-generated mockup of the upcoming A3. The new car will proudly feature the horizontal-slatted grille, as well as what appears to be a similar LED running light/projector headlight setup as the 2013 A4. Out back, it’s business as usual with a strong character line running down the side, ending with a subtly-rounded rear end. Most likely, the U.S. will receive a five-door hatch and an all-new sedan, not the three-door shown here.
Audi is tight-lipped about when the A3 will make it to driveways, but it is nice to see that the long-rumored project is nearly complete. However, expect to see the new A3 make its debut within the next few months, potentially at the Geneva Motor Show in March.