The infotainment system in an Audi is firmly associated with the name MMI. The abbreviation stands for Multi-Media-Interface. While the MMI system called "Touch Response" is available in the upper middle and upper class, you have to make do with Navigation Plus and Navigation Pro in the compact and mid-range classes. At first glance, you can't tell the differences, because all Audi systems are based on the idea that the on-board monitor on the left, facing the driver, has five virtual buttons, the top one always leading to the main menu. Four others are responsible for radio, media, telephone and navigation. Important information is within easy reach. The flat, no-frills design is always identical.

Michael Spehr

Editor in the "Technology and Motor" department.

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Now we have tried out the MMI solutions in the Audi Q3 and Q4, both in the Sportback. The Q3 has a down-to-earth appearance. Underneath the 10.1-inch diagonal on-board monitor are three rotary controls and physical buttons to operate the air conditioning. The steering wheel buttons are also real, grippy and precise. In front of the steering wheel, our vehicle had the standard digital instrument cluster. It only offers a very reduced representation of speed, RPM and on-board computer data. One gets the impression that the designer of the ad was not in the mood for more sophistication.

It's worth taking a look at the better-designed Virtual Cockpit (180 euros surcharge) or even the Virtual Cockpit Plus for 420 euros. MMI Navigation Plus in Q3 costs an extra 2265 euros and already comes with all online services. There is also a "Connect Navigation and Infotainment Plus" package for an additional 250 euros, which offers online searches for destinations as well as the integration of Amazon Alexa.

In the all-electric Audi Q4, everything looks a little different. There are touch elements on the steering wheel to control the contents of the cockpit instrument, which do not react as precisely as their mechanical siblings. On the other hand, the display in front of the steering wheel with the Virtual Cockpit is successful, and the MMI Navigation Plus is even part of the standard equipment. Our vehicle was equipped with Navigation Pro, which, together with other online services and a head-up display, costs an extra 1285 euros.

Speech recognition no longer up to date

Both on-board systems are easy to use, clearly structured and sufficiently fast. You can access the submenus with large tiles, so you don't have to search for long. The traffic data is decent, if necessary you can have the traffic jam status of each road displayed in traffic light colors. What bothered us: Voice recognition is no longer up to date and takes a long time to capture a navigation destination. In addition, it is not available immediately after pressing the start button. The capacitive volume control on the control island between the driver and front passenger is another minus point from an ergonomic point of view. The fact that you can enter the navigation destinations in Q3 with the virtual keyboard, which is locked in Q4 while driving "for safety reasons", is filed away in the test protocol as a new paternalistic mania. Even the passenger is not allowed to operate it.

The charging planning in the Q4 with the help of navigation is also disappointing when compared to the Audi RS Etron GT, for example. Only an economy version is used here. If the navigation destination is reached with the available battery charge, nothing happens. It is also not possible to predict in advance how large the remaining battery capacity will be at the destination. Charging stations along the route can be searched, often a "free" is shown at the DC filling stations, but detailed information on the number of charging stations is missing.

What the E-Tron route planner can do

For long-distance planning, the first step is to enter the destination. Then you can see from a red exclamation mark in the display that the E-Tron route planner must now be used. It is called manually and takes a very long time to plan. We logged more than ten minutes for a 700-kilometer route. Then you can see which fast charging station you arrive at with which battery level and how long it is best to charge. Unfortunately, there is no way to adjust individual parameters yourself, for example with which reserve you want to arrive at your destination. By default, there is around 15 percent residual capacity, which may be sufficient in a large city with a good infrastructure. But if you end up somewhere in the countryside and the only slow AC charging station is occupied by a wrongly parked vehicle with an internal combustion engine, it can be tight.

On the other hand, the option to create geo-charging profiles is commendable. Here, GPS coordinates are used to store the fact that, for example, you only want to charge at home to 80 percent of the capacity at all times in order to save the battery.

What remains: Anyone who is familiar with the infotainment of the corporate siblings and, for example, takes a sideways glance at the Golf, the ID 4 or ID 5 from Volkswagen, will be enthusiastic about the MMI in the Q3 and Q4 because it has the nicer appearance, because the content is better displayed and the system works almost smoothly. Compared to Mercedes and BMW, however, the work speed and performance could be higher, and the voice recognition could be better.