Audi A4 Avant 2.0 TDI ultra Sport 150 PS
Sophisticated: Audi A4 Avant 2.0 TDI ultra Sport 150 PS
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Audi A4 Avant 2.0 TDI ultra Sport 150PS

IT’S not so much what’s behind you in the Audi A4 Avant – although having the elegant load bay is clearly the point of driving this estate version of Audi’s popular executive saloon – but what’s laid out in front of you in the Audi A4 Avant 2.0 TDI ultra Sport.

In particular, the car’s ‘virtual cockpit’ which sits in the dashboard display.

It’s a fully digital representation of the speedometor and rev counter along with driver information display.

Now those that recall that brilliant original Audi Quattro will remember that it had a digital display as well. Not everyone liked this at the time, but there was so much to love about the car it mattered little. And it was all very much part of the Vorsprung durch Technik that made the Quattro such a special car.

But that was then – and the virtual cockpit is very much of today. This digital display has two views – you can either maximise the speedo and rev counter and have the driver information minimised; or the other way around. And all from a button on the steering wheel.

So what?

It means you tailor the vehicle further to your tastes, in the same way you can change the settings on the Audi Driver Select system, which provides you with different suspension, economy and steering settings: choose from Comfort, Auto, Dynamic, Efficiency and Individual modes.

So what can you tailor to your own personal view on the virtual cockpit? Well I particularly appreciate the excellent mapping which is displayed fully across the width of the binnacle.

This means it is in your line of driving sight rather than switching your view to the centrally mounted colour screen. It’s the next best thing to having a heads-up display.

For business drivers it’s not only amazingly convenient but I find it safer too.

There was an initial glitch earlier on when the display failed to render fully on occasions – as if there wasn’t enough memory to power it. But Audi took the car back in – offered a replacement – and then delivered the digitally refettled car back to me. It has been fully functional.

Talking of the sat-nav, this current system is much better than previous built- in systems I have experienced in Audis. The system identifies slow moving traffic ahead and reroutes intelligently.

I had one journey up the M1 to Leeds recently when I seemed to spend more time dodging off it than on it! But thanks to real time information the MMI system keeps you on the move.

However, it’s not just me that’s impressed by the Audi virtual cockpit: it has just recently been awarded ‘Tech of the Year’ in the inaugural Car Tech Awards. And that’s by techies who know about these things.

It’s just one of the many items, some of them small touches, that add up to making the Audi A4 Avant such a refined business car. It’s a car that works intelligently for you.

Audi A4 Avant 2.0 TDI ultra Sport 150 PS

Doors and body stylefive-door estate
P11D£31,895
Company car tax band20%
Company car tax at 20% (yearly/monthly)£1,276/£106
Company car tax at 40% (yearly/monthly)£2,552/£213
CO2 emissions104g/km
0-62mph/top speed:9.2secs/130mph
Economy official:70.6mpg
Our economy:54.3mpg

The truly innovative instrument panel

Audi A4 Avant 2.0 TDI ultra
Clear navigation in virtual cockpit

The Audi virtual cockpit comprises a TFT display with a 12.3-inch diagonal and a resolution of 1440 x 540 pixels. It displays exceptionally sharp and highly detailed graphics. Powering the system is a high-performance NVIDIA Tegra 30 processor.

The fully digital display enables a wide range of information to be presented clearly and directly in the driver’s field of view. This includes the classic values for speed and rpm, but also navigation, communication and entertainment information.

In Infotainment mode, a central window dominates the view. It offers plenty of room for lists in the Phone, Radio and Media areas or for the navigation map that can furnish practically the entire screen when desired.

The tachometer and speedometer are displayed as small dial instruments on the right and left. In a second, classic view, they appear about as large as analogue instruments, and the middle window is smaller.

One of the key judges said: “We were endlessly impressed with virtual cockpit, and the more you use it, the better it gets. Its performance is outstanding, graphics are crisp and when the 12.3in screen is given over to navigation functions, mapping has never been clearer.

“With all this in mind, virtual cockpit is a must have feature across most of Audi’s models.

“If there’s one piece of in-car technology that defines 2016, and will lead the way over the coming years, it’s Audi virtual cockpit.”

Audi A4 Avant 2.0 TDI ultra
The wider view: the satnav route planner updates to avoid jams
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