Audi's laser-shooting Sport Quattro Laserlight concept to debut at CES
By David Szondy
January 5, 2014
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.
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 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 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."