Ahead of its time technologically and ahead of its class in terms of interior space, the forthcoming fully electric Audi Q4 e-tron will offer a driving environment that perfectly embodies Vorsprung durch Technik. Sophisticated features including a pioneering augmented reality head-up display and touch-sensitive steering wheel control functionality are complemented in the all-new compact SUV by a level of space that far exceeds the current benchmark in the segment. Its interior is in fact more closely comparable to models from the classes above.
New and cleverly configured: the packaging
Standing 1,613 millimetres high, with a length of 4,590 millimetres and a width of 1,865 millimetres, the Q4 e-tron belongs at the upper end of the compact SUV segment where its exterior dimensions are concerned. Its modular electric drive system (MEB) architecture permits exceptionally space efficient packaging. This is clearly demonstrated by its combination of a short front overhang measuring just 86 centimetres and a generous wheelbase length of 2.76 metres, which surpasses SUV equivalents from the class above. Such dimensions favour the interior of the car, which at 1.83 metres in length, is similar in scale to a luxury class SUV.
Welcome aboard: comfortable entry, generously spacious
Comfort has been prioritised right from the point at which the driver and up to four passengers open the doors of the new forthcoming Audi Q4 e-tron. They open wide to reveal high-mounted, easily accessible seats and generous space, made possible in part by the fact that the electric drive concept enables the centre tunnel to be replaced by a considerably less intrusive flat step.
Fully digital at four levels: the operating concept
In common with the majority of Audi models, the Q4 e-tron will deliver its infotainment via a fully digital operating and display concept based around a central MMI touch display offering natural language voice control, complemented by the Audi virtual cockpit. And for the first time, this configuration will be available in the UK in conjunction with the option of an augmented reality head-up display – a new pioneering piece of technology.
A new dimension: the augmented reality head-up display
With the augmented reality head-up display in the Q4 e-tron, Audi is taking a huge step forward in display technology. It projects important information onto the windscreen on two separate levels – a status section and an augmented reality (AR) section. Key information and symbols from specific assistance systems and from the navigation module are visually superimposed on the ‘real life’ area to which they specifically relate as content of the AR section and displayed dynamically. They appear to be floating at a physical distance of roughly ten metres from the driver, and depending on the situation can even appear considerably further ahead in some cases.
The heart of the system: the picture generation unit
The technical heart of the augmented reality head-up display is the picture generation unit (PGU), which is located deep inside the instrument panel. A particularly bright LCD directs the light beams it generates onto two level mirrors, and special optical components separate the portions for the near-field and distant areas. The level mirrors direct the beams onto a large concave mirror that can be adjusted electrically.
Predictive picture generator: the AR Creator
What is known as the AR Creator serves as the mastermind and picture generator on the software side. It is a processing unit in the modular infotainment platform (MIB 3) that is comprised of multiple individual modules. The AR Creator renders the display symbols at a rate of 60 frames per second and adapts them to the geometry of the projection optics. At the same time, it calculates their location in relation to the environment, on which it obtains information via the raw data of the front camera, the radar sensor, and the GPS navigation. Its software consists of roughly 600,000 lines of programming code, around 50 percent more than the entire control system of the first version of the Space Shuttle.
Three variants: the digital cockpit
The digital instrument cluster has a 10.25-inch diagonal and is operated via the multifunction steering wheel. The power meter, which is located next to the speedometer on the display, summarises all important information on the Q4 e-tron’s status, from the output and the state of charge of the battery to the active recuperation profile. The Audi virtual cockpit which will be standard for all UK models integrates the navigation map and infotainment control and can be switched between two views.