Highlights from the 2014 LA Auto Show

Audi's laser-shooting Sport Quattro Laserlight concept to debut at CES

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January 5, 2014

The Sport Quattro Laserlight concept has laser headlamps

The Sport Quattro Laserlight concept has laser headlamps

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Following on from the Sport Quattro Concept that debuted at the Frankfurt Motor Show last September, Audi has continued the evolution of the classic Sport Quattro of the early 80s. The new Sport Quattro Laserlight concept, which will be unveiled at this week's CES, borrows from the R18 e-tron Quattro LMP1 race car unveiled last month and sticks lasers where the headlamps used to be.

Like last year’s concept, the Quattro Laserlight coupé is a showcase of Audi’s future design vocabulary, though this “plasma red” version is a bit more aggressive with headlamps that look more like gunports and severe lines running from the grille over the bonnet.

With a width of 1,964 mm (77.32 in) and a height of 1,386 mm (54.57 in), it’s very low and wide with short overhangs, angular, swept-back C pillars and blisters above the fenders. Up front, there’s the hexagonal single-frame grille and a pair of large air intakes that, thanks to the two vertical blades in them, balance out the grille rather than overwhelm it. However, where the 2012 concept’s front blended nicely into the bonnet, the laserlight has a hard, almost sinister look to it.

The Sport Quattro Laserlight concept echoes the original Quattro of the 1980s

Much of this new look is due to the new headlamp design, which combines matrix LEDs with lasers inside two trapezoidal elements in each headlamp. The LEDs are used to project the low beams while the laser diodes, only a few microns in diameter, create the high beams. Despite their size, the lasers produce twice the lighting range and three times the luminosity of the LEDS. This means that they can light the road to up to 500 m (1,640 ft), while making the whole headlamp assembly much more compact.

This sort of innovation might have left the Laserlight as a bit of a dog's breakfast with a severe front slapped onto a body that it didn't match, but by carrying the stronger lines through to the swept-back glass cabin and the more subdued rear spoiler, Audi seems to have pulled it off. In addition, the carbon composite diffuser and large oval tailpipes in the back even out the air intakes in the front.

Weighing in at 1,850 kg (4,078 lb), Audi says that the design of the Laserlight is based on a strategy that emphasizes light weight with a passenger cabin made of ultra high-strength steel sheet and structural elements of cast aluminum, as well as aluminum doors and fenders. Meanwhile the roof, bonnet, and rear hatch are carbon composites.

The Sport Quattro Laserlight concept interior

The powerplant of the Laserlight concept is a plug-in hybrid that puts out 515 kW (700 hp) and 800 Nm (590 lb-ft) of torque. It consists of a turbocharged four-liter V8 with a more than respectable 412 kW (560 hp) and 700 Nm (516 lb-ft) of torque. This features a cylinder on demand (COD) system that cuts out four of the cylinders under light loads, as well as a start-stop system that shuts off the engine while the car is at stop lights.

The electric motor part of the equation is powered by a 14.1 kWh lithium-ion battery in the rear of the car. The disc-shaped motor generates 110 kW with 400 Nm (295 lb-ft) of torque. According to Audi, the Laserlight can travel up to 50 km (31 mi) on electrics alone.

Behind this is a modified eight-speed tiptronic gearbox and a sport differential at the rear axle. There’s also an intelligent management system with three different modes: EV for high-torque, electrics only; Hybrid for optimal fuel economy; and Sports for maximum power. Put all this together and you get 0 to 100 km/h (62 mph) in 3.7 seconds and a top speed of 305 km/h (189 mph).

The Sport Quattro Laserlight concept's diffuser and rear spoiler

The front suspension has five links per wheel, while the rear uses a self-tracking trapezoidal link principle. The springs and shock absorbers are stiffened, there’s a dynamic steering system that adapts itself to driving speed, and the brakes have large, carbon fiber-ceramic discs. According to Audi, the Laserlight does 2.5 liters of fuel per 100 km (94.09 US mpg) and emits 59 g/km (94.95 g/mile) of carbon dioxide.

The interior of the Laserlight concept is a carbon composite shell that carries four passengers in folding composite racing seats with high lateral supports. As with last year’s Quattro concept, the dash is designed to mimic the wing of a sail plane. There’s a multifunction sport steering wheel and key information is displayed in high-resolution, three-dimensional graphics on Audi’s TFT display that is powered by a Tegra 30 processor.

"The new show car demonstrates technical 'Vorsprung' on many levels," says Prof. Dr. Ulrich Hackenberg, Member of the Board of AUDI AG, Technical Development. "On-board this car we have e-tron technology with 515 kW of power and 2.5 l/100 km (94.09 US mpg) fuel economy; laser headlights that leave all previous systems in the dark with its higher performance as well as new display and operating systems with cutting-edge electronic performance. We are showing the future of Audi here."

Source: Audi

About the Author
David Szondy David Szondy is a freelance writer based in Monroe, Washington. An award-winning playwright, he has contributed to Charged and iQ magazine and is the author of the website Tales of Future Past.   All articles by David Szondy
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9 Comments

I think the technology is cool, but it brings up another point which I think deserves to be made:

Completely aside from the fact that one is not actually looking at laser light, but rather light emitted from the phosphor(s), this recent trend toward tiny, extremely bright light sources is troubling.

Looking at tiny, intense light sources at night is an oncoming driver's nightmare. I am wondering when car manufacturers will realize this, and start making their light sources larger again, or come up with some other solution to the problem.

Because it is a problem. Obviously you want to be able to see well while driving, but that implies that OTHER cars must also allow you to see well.

Anne Ominous
5th January, 2014 @ 04:33 pm PST

So what mpg after the battery is depleted ?

We need to see meaningful figures for these hybrids as we all know that in normal use it is not going to be 2.5l/100km. I dont want to knock hybrids but these figures distort the facts so that they are total garbage. All it says is Audi think of their customers as idiots (they might be right).

Stephen Colbourne
6th January, 2014 @ 03:28 am PST

@ Anne Ominous

Agreed, being dazzled is dangerous. Even if not dazzled, small light sources are not as visible as what are still considered normal ones; look at the modern small headlamps that some cars are sporting. They are far less visible at a distance.

One has to feel sorry for high performance car manufacturers. They are facing two major problems: peak oil and climate change, both of which clearly require a new paradigm for personal transport that runs counter to their whole ethos. The car industry is a fashion industry and when that new paradigm comes about, cars such as this one will rapidly find themselves out of fashion to a clientele that is among the most fashion conscious in society.

They will need more than laser headlights to see their way out of the evolutionary cul-de-sac they are heading up at characteristically high speed.

Mel Tisdale
6th January, 2014 @ 04:45 am PST

4000 lbs is lightweight?

Numerous studies reveal the fact that people do not multitask. What people do is do more than one thing at the same time poorly. And yet auto manufactures especially Audi and bmw insist on placing more screen and difficult controls for driver use.

People can hardly drive well as it is, and they put more junk on cars like access to email? No one who is driving should have access to either email or a cell phone, not even with bluetooth.

steveraxx
6th January, 2014 @ 09:50 am PST

Great just when you thought life couldn't be any more annoying when you are being followed by an Audi!

Tim Harrison
7th January, 2014 @ 11:43 am PST

Actually 2.5L per 100 is normal use. The hybrid system does not run out of battery, the battery is constantly recharged while the petrol engine is running. Hybrids do not ever need recharging.

A plug-in hybrid allows you to top off the battery from electric mains if you wish which provides a small improvement in efficiency for long journeys, or may make small journeys possible using no petrol at all.

Ian McIntosh
7th January, 2014 @ 08:46 pm PST

If I could average 2.5l per 100 km over a trip of 500km with this car I would be very impressed.

Unfortunately I believe these figures were calculated over a much shorter distance and simply are running the pre-charged battery down. I hope I am wrong.

Stephen Colbourne
8th January, 2014 @ 03:36 am PST

amazing, this car looks like the successor of the VW Corrado !!!

the body is very similar with some portion of evolution in body styling..

but definitely i see my "old" gorgeous VW Corrado (VR6) here, shifted/lifted up into 2014

RGX
8th January, 2014 @ 02:22 pm PST

Go take a look at your own car for a second. All headlamps take a point source and diffuse them into a useful cone of illumination.

Various technologies for higher illumination and whiter temperatures are quickly followed by strategies for shaping the cone to best meet divergent objectives--to throw light far and wide for the driver without dazzling oncoming traffic.

American SAE-standard low beams tend to do a better job of the former, while European ECE-standard low beams do a far better job of the latter. In either case, high beams impair oncoming night vision; the brightest ones are typically adaptive units that switch to low beams when they sense oncoming traffic.

Solid-state, quick-start technologies like LEDs and lasers obviously lend themselves to semiconductor control and highly-sophisticated adaptive strategies. Because the laser diode is so tiny, it can quickly be shifted from one polyellipsoidal focal point to another to take advantage of a myriad of contextually-optimised programs.

vaffangool
9th January, 2014 @ 09:03 pm PST
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