Looking to press its advantage in the automotive-lighting arms race, the four-rings brand will debut a laser-illumination system on its new Audi “Sport quattro laserlight” concept. As for the car itself, it will debut at the 2014 International CES in Las Vegas, on January 6, and fit in perfectly with the rest of the gadgets on display at the world’s largest consumer electronics show.
The lasers actually are a complement to the car’s LED headlamps, acting as high-tech high beams despite their tiny size. Although the laser diodes are just a few thousandths of a millimeter wide, they are capable of illuminating the road ahead for a distance of approximately 1,640 feet—well over a quarter of a mile. And not only do they provide about twice the lighting range of LED high beams, they’re also three times as luminous. Further, while the car is, as mentioned, a concept vehicle, that laser-lighting system isn’t: It will be deployed on Audi’s 2014 R18 e-tron quattro racecar, then could reach production vehicles in the mid-term future.
Similarly, the concept’s cutting-edge cabin interfaces almost certainly point the way to future iterations of Audi production technologies. They include a new twist on the multi-function steering wheel, which in this case includes a stop/start button for the ignition as well as controls for the multi-mode suspension and Audi’s “virtual cockpit” displays. Engineers also have enhanced Audi’s MMI terminal and menu structure to make it yet more intuitive and easy to use, with improved ability to recognize both voice and gesture commands.
Audi engineers haven’t forgotten that the Sport quattro laserlight is made to drive, however. Thus, it relies on an advanced plug-in hybrid powertrain integrates a 4.0-liter twin-turbo V8 and a 110-kW electric motor to provide 700 hp and more than 590 lb.-ft. of torque. With that kind of grunt pushing a fairly lightweight coupe, Audi claims a 0-60 time of under 3.7 seconds and a top speed of over 189 mph. On the other hand, the Audi Sport quattro laserlight also earns its green cred with a +30-mile all-electric driving range, fuel-efficiency marks that can top 94 mpg in hybrid mode, and CO2 emissions of 94.95 grams per mile; to put that last mark into context, the 2014 Toyota Prius Plug-in, with a top EPA grade of “10” for greenhouse-gas emissions, serves up 133 grams per mile.
The bottom line from Audi’s Prof. Dr. Ulrich Hackenberg: “We are showing the future of Audi here.”