By on June 26, 2019

A large portion of the automotive industry tends to follow Audi’s lead on interior design. That has resulted in the proliferation of the worst phenomenon in modern automotive history — the floating tablet-style infotainment screen.

With the refresh of the Audi Q7, the biggest scourge on automotive design since spinner wheels may finally be coming to an end.

The Q7 receives some comprehensive updates in this “minor model change,” both visually and mechanically. The visual updates bring the SUV more in line with the rest of Audi’s design language, which the more rakish Q8 already possesses. The signature trapezoidal grille is flanked by larger air inlets — at least in S line trim — while headlights and taillights have been updated, featuring available HD Matrix LED technology with Audi laser light for forward projection.

New chassis upgrades are available in the updated Q7. Active roll stabilization (active anti-roll bars) can soften to reduce the impact of single-side inputs on straight road but stiffen to provide better roll control and response when cornering. The S line trim will lower the ride height by 15 mm and provide firmer damping tuning to the standard air suspension.

All-wheel steering continues to be available, turning the rear wheels by up to 5 degrees opposite to the front wheels at low speed to improve agility. At highway speeds, the rear wheels steer in the same direction as the fronts to aid stability.

Powertrain updates bring a 48V mild-hybrid system to all gas and diesel variants, though we do not yet have confirmation that either of the two diesel engines are headed for our shores. The Q7 is currently available with 2.0T and 3.0T engines. A new Plug-in Hybrid version is expected further down the line.

[UPDATE: Audi USA confirmed that the Q7 refresh will be a US MY20, arriving in 2020. There will be no TDI engine for the US Market.]

The inside is where the biggest changes are felt. Most significantly is the change from a tablet-style infotainment display that popped up from the top of the dash. Audi’s MMI infotainment system is now housed handsomely in the middle of the dash, where the good Lord intended. It is complimented by an additional display below it for the HVAC controls, as well as the virtual cockpit gauge cluster.

Here’s what the current Q7 looks like, for reference.

I absolutely cannot stand any floating tablet-style infotainment screen and despise that Audi started this trend. Their interiors have always been a benchmark for the auto industry, who have largely followed whatever they did. Apparently, few interior designers looked at each other and asked, “does this look like shit?” Except for FCA. And congratulations to Ralph Gilles and his team for sticking with what’s right.

Hopefully, with Audi having come to their senses and integrating their infotainment screens into the dash, the rest of the industry will follow suit.

[Images: Audi]

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48 Comments on “Audi Q7 Updated, Infotainment Screen Moves to Dash – Yes, It’s a Big Deal [UPDATED]...”


  • avatar
    sportyaccordy

    Interesting of Audi to follow ACURA’S lead… while also ditching physical controls. I like screens for screens’ sake but not at the expense of redundant critical physical controls. Sad that most luxury brand infotainment interfaces range from bad to terrible.

  • avatar
    R Henry

    My 2015 Mazda6 has its infotainment screen in the dash. The 2016 models “upgraded” to the floating screen. Amazing how faddish automotive design can be. Will the “floating” screens be the tail fins of the late teens?

  • avatar
    sgeffe

    Audi was first with this? Coulda sworn it was Mercedes.

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      I think it was the 2012 A6 that first had it, but it was retractable. It’s a very cool feature, but that’s a $60,000 car, and I’m sure manufacturers didn’t want something that costly in their $20,000 sedans. They copied the look, but not the execution.

      • 0 avatar
        sgeffe

        Then Benz was the first with the iPad-suction-cupped-to-the-dash look. The retractable one at least cleans things up if the nav isn’t in use.

        • 0 avatar
          iNeon

          The w204 C-Class had an early version of the retractable screen— but back then it was doors/shutters and a theater ‘reveal’— less of a monolithic slick thing.

          I feel like the Suzuki SX4 had a nav setup similar— with dampened actions, but no motors.

          Cadillac CTS had a fancy motorized screen pretty early-on.

          Chrysler PT Cruiser(2006 implementation— previous was NAV radio) got a strange gumdrop that 3M-taped to the dashtop. Aesthetically no different than the ‘iPad on dash’ grievance.

          Mostly, it seems like we’re arguing for a higher or lower screen. Good metrics for TTAC to monetize and sell to their financiers.

  • avatar
    LeMansteve

    The tablet-on-dash design gets a lot of flak for the way it looks, but in practice it is excellent. You just…look over. Your eyes don’t stray far from the road. With a screen-in-dash, you have to look down (and away from the road) at the dashboard.

    • 0 avatar
      Nick_515

      Correct. tablet-on-dash is my strong preference. They also allow a much more elegant dashboard. Look at how massive the new Q7 dash looks post-integration.

    • 0 avatar
      Maymar

      Exactly, if you’re going to have a screen, up high is the right placement for it, but the floating tablet at least takes away the need for a higher belt line than necessary.

    • 0 avatar
      Flipper35

      I would have to disagree with you all. The screen intrudes into the outside visibility and looks extremely tacky. You don’t have to look much lower when they are properly integrated into the dash and you don’t have to reach as far.

      Actually, it would be one of two things that are a deal breaker for me. The other being the engine noise piped in through the head unit.

      • 0 avatar
        Maymar

        If the screen is mounted so high it’s compromising visibility, that also means the beltline is so stupidly high that there’s no point to doing the tacked on screen because you’re driving a mobile bunker either way. Most of them are mounted up about as high as the instrument cluster (which people don’t tend to complain about obstructing visibility, and don’t complain about it sticking out from the dash).

        If it’s a deal breaker for you, fine, but it’s a petty little aesthetic deal breaker. The screens are here and aren’t going away, and it’s a perfectly valid way to mount them.

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    Current A3 owner here.

    If you ask me, the “touchscreen everything” movement is a far bigger scourge than the “screen on dash” movement ever was, and Audi’s execution of this was terrific – you can just press a button and send the screen back into the dash when you don’t want it. It’s handy, ergonomically correct, and works great for navigation (it’s in your line of sight, versus being stuck down in the dashboard). It’s also slick as hell and never fails to wow passengers. MMI also becomes second nature by the third or fourth time you get in the car (the center mounted volume is silly, though).

    Instead, we’re going to get Tesla-style “touchscreen submenu” bulls**t. For the record, I tried out a Model 3, and while Audi’s not going to make you use it to turn on the wipers or adjust the steering wheel, it’s still a royal pain in the a** on the road. If you ask me, the “touchscreen everything” movement is silly, and it’s disappointing that Audi bought into it.

    • 0 avatar
      theflyersfan

      Do you have the virtual cockpit in yours?
      In my immediate family, we have a new Q5, A4, and A6, along with an older Q5 and a traded in A3 (for the A4). With the A4 and A6, they have the screen that retracts like yours. Combined with the virtual cockpit, you don’t need the distraction of the screen in the middle since the functions/display can be shown right in front of you between the gauges. That is a great idea.

      And for certain Audis, didn’t they finally “fix” the MMI knob where clockwise finally moves the menu selection down instead of counterclockwise?

      I wonder what the final bill will be when those massive Tesla/Volvo screens give up the ghost and require a replacement. And you’ll have to get it fixed because they control the damn car! And now add Audi’s and JLR’s two screen system as well. Can we say lease???

      • 0 avatar
        FreedMike

        No, mine doesn’t have Virtual Cockpit. But if we’re being totally honest, I had a car with that feature as a service loaner and I wasn’t a big fan. It was well-executed, but I like needles and dials (well, at least the A3 has an old-school tach and speedometer).

        I have a feeling cost was the motivating factor here. The screens themselves are cheap, and when they go bad, you just swap them out. I don’t want to even think about what an Audi dealer would charge to replace the sliding-screen mechanism.

        • 0 avatar
          Nick_515

          Well, if you think of the typical semi-responsible third owner, let’s say the mechanism broke and the sliding-screen got locked in the upright position. Would that be such a big deal?

          • 0 avatar
            FreedMike

            No, but if the thing gets stuck in the dash, that’s a problem. You’d like to change the radio station, big fella? Nope.

            Then again, a truly enterprising, out-of-the-box-thinker third owner might figure out how to pull it out of the dash and leave it in the upright position. Hopefully, duct tape wouldn’t be involved.

    • 0 avatar
      slavuta

      Correct. And Volvo

  • avatar
    trout

    Is this something the automotive press doesn’t like, but nobody else really cares about?

    • 0 avatar
      Robotdawn

      I don’t know, but I can’t stand it either. If my “stereo” could fit in the dash, the screen can. It just makes sense. There a very few things that cross a vehicle straight off my list for consideration, but putting a tablet on the dash is numero uno. It’s just tacky. Lack of physical buttons for basic things like volume and AC control would be number 2.

      FYI, GM also has had their screens in-dash. At least in every vehicle I’ve ever looked at.

      • 0 avatar
        Kyree S. Williams

        GM does a semi-floating thing on some of its cars. Check out the Malibu, Equinox, and Volt, which use the same infotainment display bezel. A significant portion of it sticks up above the dashboard, and it looks like a separate piece that’s well integrated. The new Blazer attempts something similar, with a distinct display bezel that’s on a different plane than the rest of the dashboard, and that also pokes a bit over the dashboard.

        Cadillac, however, embraces the trend more readily, on its new CT4 and CT5 models. While their screens mounted lower on the dashboard, they are in effect examples of the iPad-on-dash motif.

    • 0 avatar
      ajla

      Every person that has gotten into my Stinger has commented that the screen looks goofy.

    • 0 avatar
      tankinbeans

      I think so. I have the floating screen in my Mazda6 and it is just fine. Then again if the functions are easy to use and don’t full on block my view I’m good to go. Luckily the climate control is fully operated with buttons and such. My only “concern” with the way the system is set up is the inability to put an aftermarket head unit in. Then again the factory system does what I need it to do so…

      The outrage reminds me of the brief period where automakers were placing the instrument cluster in the same spot. I believe it was Saturn with the Ion, Toyota with the Echo (?) and probably a couple I’m forgetting. I drove a friend’s Ion so equipped and it felt better to me to glance over on one of my many visual trips across the windshield. Also, being able to see important information in the periphery was nice.

  • avatar
    Kyree S. Williams

    So, just to be clear, we’re praising Audi for taking a screen that floated above the dashboard—right where your eyes would need to be—and moving it below your sightline, to the center stack…and then complicating it by removing physical controls from the HVAC as well?

    Pass. I feel like the hate for the floating-screen infotainment system is a bandwagon that everyone in automotive media just chose to jump aboard. Besides, some manufacturers (including, previously, Audi) do it quite well. I’m sure Audi expects you to use its AI voice commands, but for those who don’t want to do that, this is functionally worse in every way.

    • 0 avatar
      newenthusiast

      I’m going to half agree with you here.

      I owned a first gen Q7 (2007). The only gripe I had with the MMI and HVAC controls was that the MMI knob turned counter-clockwise when I intuitively wanted to scroll clockwise and vice-versa. The screen placement in the dash was perfect, and the HVAC controls were intuitive and placed where I could change as needed based on location and feel and not look away from the road. I didn’t like that the 4 zone climate control required you to look at the screen when adjusting the rear zones though. Simple on/off (or driver control/rear control)and temp control button or knobs would have sufficed.

      I test drove a post refresh 1st gen (2015) this spring, and while basically the same, the MMI control issue was fixed. I don’t know if the previous owner did that via programming or Audi made the change. But it was great. Sadly, that car got bought by someone else before I could talk to my wife about the test drive and make an offer. So now I have a first Q5…which makes more sense really, as our hope of expanding our family is not medically possible :( I no longer need the 7 seat capacity to meet those future expectations.

      The local Audi dealer uses the 2nd gen as its shuttle. The screen on the dash marred what I felt was otherwise an excellent, clean improvement/progression of the interior design of the first gen. It also partially blocked outward vision while pulling into a parking spot. So I am glad they put it back where I think it makes sense.

      But removing physical HVAC controls is absolutely stupid. It was perfect where it was in the 2nd gen. Fiddling with HVAC in sub menus on a touchscreen is dangerous and anathema to the idea of safety. Expecting the driver to either take their eyes off of the road while driving or pull over and stop look at a screen to search for the function to turn down the blower fan when they want to reduce background noise to make a phone call (or just because they are cold or too hot to the point of distraction) absurd.

      No vehicle should be without physical control of a simple, analog way to control that. If the screen breaks or the electronics fail, how are you supposed to make sure that you can at least not freeze/roast until you can get that fixed? This is the one function where the luxury marques (in particular) using new technology is not only not welcome, but doesn’t even solve a problem. Are there that many drivers who hate the idea of some simple color coded controls for this? Also, the HVAC used to be where the heated/cooled seats were controlled. I assume that is now also on some menu on a screen, which takes your eyes off the road? Bad idea.

      I do like the return of the vertical slat grille upfront, though, like the 1st gen had. The horizontal one looked awful.

    • 0 avatar
      Flipper35

      It is in line of sight but also further away to reach. If they would leave climate control to actual buttons you wouldn’t have to look at them at all.

      Personally, the on dash/retractable is a deal breaker. So is the interior of a Model 3.

  • avatar
    needsdecaf

    Hmmm.

    First, the Q7 doesn’t have a “tablet stuck on the dash”. It has a retractable screen, which is much different. The A4/A5 have the “perma-tablet”.

    Second, Volvo did the retractable screen with their P2 chassis cars in the early 2000’s (S60/v70/S90/XC90).

    Third, I agree with many in that well executed, the floating screen is more preferable to me than an integrated screen. 1. the dash looks better and 2. it’s more in line of sight, which is more important.

    • 0 avatar
      Kyree S. Williams

      Bentley and Rolls-Royce also did the retractable screen with the Vickers-era cars. For Rolls-Royce, that was up to 2002 in the Corniche and Silver Seraph, before the brand switched over to the BMW-developed models. For Bentley, this continued through 2010, in the Arnage, Azure, and Brooklands. Well, it folded anyway. I’m going to put that in the same category as retracting.

    • 0 avatar

      The point was more that other manufacturers will now hopefully put the screens back in the dash where they belong :)

      • 0 avatar
        FreedMike

        I’ll part ways with you on that one – if you’re going to have screens for complicated vehicle functions, then put them at eye level. That’s exactly what the current Audi system does, and if you don’t want to see the display, you just push a button and it retracts into the dash. Problem solved. Say what you want about these “screen on dash” systems, but Audi executed them the right way.

        I’m sorry, but when it comes to functions like HVAC, there’s no way of making a touchscreen as intuitive to human hands and fingers as plain old knobs and buttons are, and putting those controls further down on the dash just adds to driving distractions, and God knows we don’t need any more of that. But hold on – the radio and seat adjustments are all down there as well, accessed with submenus that require you to take your eyes off the road to use.

        This is a step backwards. I’ll take the MMI setup in my A3, thanks.

  • avatar
    ajla

    I went from an in-dash screen (Charger) to an on-dash screen (Kia). Aesthetically I preferred the integration of the in-dash look and if there is any line-of-sight advantage between the two it is *extremely* minimal.

    However, the preference isn’t a hill I’d die on or make a buying decision over.

  • avatar
    Hummer

    Tablet on dash needs to die, they look cheap and (obviously) poorly integrated on every vehicle they exist on. I wouldn’t buy a vehicle that’s engineering budget was so small they had to put the screen on as an after thought, if something that big is an afterthought where else were pennies pinched?

    • 0 avatar
      JMII

      It wasn’t an afterthought or a cheap move – other OEMs just did it to mimic Audi’s look. Just like the LED daytime running lamps that Audi started, now every OEM has some version of them. As someone above mentioned it’s like the whole tail fin craze of the 50s.

      I agree it looks silly due to lack of integration and hope this idea/design/style decision dies now that Audi is moving away from it.

      • 0 avatar
        Hummer

        I thought it was Saab that started the LED light thing?

        And if those screens aren’t an afterthought than some designers need to lose their jobs, because they look cheap as hell.

      • 0 avatar
        Flipper35

        Same thing happened with the big gaping maw grills. Audi took a more elegant front end and made it bad. Lots followed and now we have grills that look like the Predator that went too long without oxygen.

  • avatar
    Rocket

    Sorry, Anthony, but I strongly disagree. Do I love the look of the high-mounted screens? No, in most cases I do not. But they’re functionally superior, which is all that should matter. The touchscreen controls, on the other hand, are another distraction drivers absolutely do not need. Give me the ugliest screen in the world (Explorer) if does what it’s supposed to do, and I’ll live with the aesthetics. There’s nothing that will make me live with any kind of touchscreen audio or HVAC controls, however. Like Volvo, Land Rover, Tesla and any others following this stupid trend, Audi is off the list.

    • 0 avatar

      To each their own. Somehow I drive my own cars with no screen at all and do just fine :)
      With that said, my wife’s Mazda3 6MT Hatch has the tablet style and we both hate the aesthetics of it. We previously had a Giulia (and I was driving other FCA products with UConnect screens daily) and I never ever felt like the screen was too far away from my line of sight.
      Again, to each their own!

    • 0 avatar
      Flipper35

      For as little as you look at it, it can go in the dash. I suppose the cup holders should go nice and high too so you can see your cups, and the shifter and…? Silly I know, but you don’t drive looking at the screen. Nav gives voice instructions and having to reach for the screen is a distraction as well.

      I agree most functions, like HVAC, should be buttons you can actually feel and you wouldn’t have to look at them at all.

  • avatar
    hausjam

    The good lord never intended the infotainment screen to be in the middle of the dash. It was intended to be in the living room where it’s not a dangerous distraction.

    Eventually some administration will do the sensible thing and ban all displays altogether. They have absolutely no place in moving vehicle.

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      Well, good luck with that, unless people are willing to go back to AM-FM radios and maps for navigation.

      (By the way, should I tell you about almost rear-ending a truck on the highway doing 60 while I was trying to deal with a map with one hand and drive with the other? Progress ain’t always bad, you know.)

    • 0 avatar
      ajla

      I personally do find the screens in my cars distracting so I keep them turned off unless needed. On an Acura this would be a big issue but many manufacturers have redundant hand controls now.

  • avatar
    Terry

    I happen to LIKE the “tablet” on the center dash of my ’19 Mazda CX-5. Mostly in my line of sight, no need to take my eyes off the road, and in NAV mode the pertinent info in shown directly in front of me above the instrument cluster on the heads-up display.

    For someone to express such hatred and emotion concerning the infotainment system says nothing to me about the vehicle, but says LOTS about the poster…

  • avatar
    cbrworm

    The new Audi interiors are incredible, photos don’t really do them justice. I test drove a new A6 Premium + V6 mild hybrid a few days ago and was blown away by how well the haptic touch screens worked combined with the clean lines and the distinct lack of a tablet on the dashboard. I generally prefer knobs and buttons to touch screens, but this worked very well and looked great. It completely outclassed (IMO) the newest Mercedes and BMW interiors. I was also amazed how well it drove with the electric assist and it was quieter inside at speed than the other cars.

    The gauge cluster was busy when it was in full map mode, but when set to a more normal setting, it was no worse than any other LCD gauge set.


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