Audi A3 with MMI Touch gesture-based entertainment system hands-on (video)

CeBIT isn't an auto show in the traditional sense, but we are in Germany after all, so we weren't terribly surprised to see Audi roll up with a brand new car. The latest A3 made its worldwide debut today, bringing with it that wheel-based menu navigation interface we saw in its prototype phase. The touchpad sits atop the jog-wheel and shrinks things down considerably compared to the original version found in the 7-series. To keep things nice and safe, Audi devised a system that recognizes letters you draw with your finger, enabling drivers keep their eyes on the road while selecting music, making calls or setting a destination in the GPS. Also, as is apparently the norm these days, there's Facebook and Twitter integration -- the car can even read updates as you drive. If you know, you can't wait until you're parked.

As you might have gathered, the A3 is a connected vehicle, with a SIM slot or Bluetooth connection providing the car's link to the outside world. It offers another curious addition, too: a "Phone Box" signal boosting system. Details are sparse, but we do know there's an external antenna that relays the signal back to the handset. That particular feature is compatible with any phone you care to toss inside, and requires a wired connection only for charging (the box itself is amplified, so anything that sits within the enclosure will reap those boosting benefits). We managed to get the first hands-on demo with the car, and you can see all those new toys in the video and galleries below.

Zach Honig contributed to this report.