Skip to main content

2013 Audi A8L: Nvidia Graphics, Wi-Fi, LED Lights, And Google Earth

Audi's Infotainment System

Right off the bat, we were introduced to Audi's Multi Media Interface (MMI) touch with handwriting recognition technology. This requires a bit of explanation, so sit tight.

Tucked beneath a wood trim flap is a seven-inch LCD display that pops up every time the vehicle starts. It sports a resolution of 800x480, which is fairly typical in the cars we've reviewed. Of course, that's not a high-definition output, but it gets the job done for traversing Audi's user interface. That screen itself is not what responds to touch.

Many of Audi's competitors do use touchscreen displays. But we've noticed that more luxury-oriented offerings are the product of extra investment into user control. So, we tend to find physical control interfaces with more satisfying tactile feedback. Not surprisingly, then, the company so well known for its smart interiors exposes a number of buttons corresponding to the infotainment system. 

A main rotary knob cycles through content displayed on-screen, while the silver buttons around it are associated with functions displayed on each of the user interface's four corners. There are even dedicated buttons that take you straight to infotainment features like navigation, telephone, and car settings. Audio control over media, the radio, track navigation, and tone settings are right next to the control knob, easily accessible. Audi also adds a dedicated volume control knob in the same little cluster.

Really, this is ideal for infotainment control. It gives us full access over Audi's MMI with an arm rested comfortably over the center console. A full complement of physical inputs make it easier to flip through menu items and dial in adjustments without taking your eyes off the road. I'll admit that it takes some time to learn the location of so many buttons without looking. But once you get your bearing, you're at a big advantage to someone stabbing around at a screen in traffic.

As a bonus, the MMI touch system ties in to the A8L's climate control, displaying settings on-screen. Audi wisely leaves the physical buttons and knobs for that subsystem in place, which we very much appreciate. Again, I really like the physical input and the tactile feedback it provides. You know exactly what's going to happen when you press. Some manufacturers (we’re looking at you, Lincoln and Cadillac) think it looks cooler to replace those buttons with capacitive touch functionality. Although a nice smooth panel looks good, it's a nuisance to drivers.

The star of this show is Audi's handwriting recognition panel that, as its name suggests, recognizes written letters. You can spell everything out with just your index finger. It's a cool novelty that works very well, and you may even find the touchpad more useful than voice commands. Once you get the hang of it, entering navigation instructions is easy. My only concern is for left-handed drivers, who might have a tough time using the pad.

  • cypeq
    Tom's add regular Refirgerator reviews they also get touchscreens built in.
    Reply
  • vertexx
    Aren't 2014 models out by now?
    Reply
  • Zeh
    One can always dream...
    Reply
  • cozmium
    Another prime example of how B&O are only made for big wallets and not discerning audio enthusiasts. Bowers and Wilkins, such as in the Jaguar XF, sound utterly fantastic. In a car you have a minefield of acoustic problems to overcome, and it takes more than slapping in fancy looking speakers.
    Reply
  • Flicules
    I would like to see an article about the new Infotainment system on the Mazda 3(MY14)
    Reply
  • Nintendo Maniac 64
    *reads title*...so basically all the things Tesla already had in 2012?

    (wifi hardware was present but the software wasn't enabled since the first year of 3G was free)
    Reply
  • vertexx
    The 2014 A8 L features a Bose sound system, or perhaps that's the standard option.
    Reply
  • Metalrenok
    Car reviews? Seriously Tom's?
    Reply
  • Metalrenok
    Car reviews? Seriously Tom's?
    Reply
  • bhaberle
    So umm. It is important to know that even lower end Audi's like the S4 (standard) and the A4 (optional) have these features, such as wi-fi, etc. And yes the wifi hotspot was available in last year's versions of these cars (which actually is the 2013 ones.) The a4/s4 versions are not touch though, which is not really an issue.
    Reply