The Audi Q6 E-Tron's Interior Brings A Change Not Everyone Will Appreciate

If you're a fan of buttons, knobs, switches, and other control devices with tactile feedback, these aren't the best of times. Traditional inputs are going the way of the dinosaurs in most modern vehicles, and Audi is the latest car maker to follow the trend. The upcoming all-electric Q6 e-Tron will be ditching the dials and buttons in favor of more "human-centric" input methods like touchscreens and voice controls.

The area around the vehicle's dash will now be dominated by what Audi terms its "digital stage." Said stage consists of two screens, an "Audi MMI panoramic display and MMI front passenger display." The panoramic display moves away from the "iPad glued to the dash" feel many vehicles tend to go with and instead features a curved OLED monitor for its 14.5" main touchscreen. This is paired with the 11.9" Audi virtual cockpit, which sits behind the wheel where the instrument cluster used to be before cars went all digital on us. This can be adapted to the driver's preferences. On the passenger side, a 10.9-inch display keeps anyone riding shotgun amused. This screen has a "privacy mode," allowing the passenger to do things like watching movies without distracting the driver. It's also handy if your passenger wants to make themself useful, as things like navigation controls can be accessed from this screen. So you can have a handy co-pilot beside you if needed.

The Q6 e-Tron goes beyond the screen

While touch screens are handy, the e-Tron offers a few more options regarding the vehicle's infotainment system. This includes voice commands and an augmented reality HUD to help drivers get the information they need without taking their eyes off the road. On a basic level, the HUD offers the same information as similar displays do in other vehicles. So expect traffic signs, vehicle speed, and navigation information to crop up on the windshield. However, the AR aspect takes the experience far beyond the basics. A tilted image plane, along with what Audi calls "high virtual image distance," means the HUD can display things that interact with the real environment and appear over 650 feet away. This is pretty advanced as far as AR displays go and is a very tempting option for those enthusiastic about driver aids.

Pair it with Audi's "self-learning" voice assistant, and there's a good chance you can keep your hands on the wheel as well. The voice assistant is "fully integrated" into the new vehicle, which is reflected in its avatar that is visible on the dashboard for the first time. You can also see the avatar in the HUD. You can activate the voice assistant by saying "Hey Audi" or tapping an appropriate touch point.

Whether touchscreens and voice assistants are worth the upgrade is open to debate. But Audi and many other high-end manufacturers seem happy to continue shifting away from physical controls.