Highlights from the 2014 LA Auto Show

Most powerful Audi R8 shines bright with laser high beams

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May 12, 2014

The all-new Audi R8 LMX is one of the first car designs in the world to use laser high bea...

The all-new Audi R8 LMX is one of the first car designs in the world to use laser high beams

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Audi has revealed the all-new R8 LMX, the most powerful road-going variant of its super sports car. More interesting than its extra 20 ponies is the set of laser eyes staring at the road ahead. The R8 LMX edges out the BMW i8 to the title of world's first production car equipped with standard laser lighting.

We've been hearing about BMW's laser headlights since the 2011 Frankfurt Motor Show, when they were presented on the i8 concept car. BMW announced earlier this year that it planned to make the i8 the first production car with the laser-light option this fall (Northern Hemisphere). It appears that the LMX will beat it out by just a few months.

The R8 was the first Audi model to wear full-LED headlights back in 2008. Perhaps worried about losing the interesting headlamp crown to its rival just to the south, Audi is now using the sports car as the debut vessel for its new laser high beam system.

Audi has been quite determined to shove itself into BMW's laser spotlight. It's quickly caught up in terms of showcasing laser technology, showing its laser light system last year on the R18 e-tron quattro race car and then on the Quattro Laserlight Concept a few weeks later.

Now it's taking the shine right off the BMW i8's claim of first laser headlights on the road. Not only does the LMX's summer launch beat BMW's planned autumn laser-light production start, but Audi is adding the laser lights as standard on the limited-run model, whereas the i8 only has them on its options list. Take that, BMW!

Audi says the laser high beams offer double the range of LEDs

Audi's laser high beam system is activated at speeds above 37 mph (60 km/h), assisting the LED headlamps in illuminating the road. The automaker claims the laser lights offer double the range of the LED units themselves. The R8 LMX's camera-based sensor system detects other road users and adjusts the light pattern to prevent glare and distraction.

Behind its laser eyes, the LMX is based on the R8 V10 Plus spec and gets a power increase up to 570 hp. That cuts its 0-62 mph (96.5 km/h) time to 3.4 seconds and gives it a top speed close to 199 mph (320 km/h). The LMX has the same 398 lb-ft of available torque as the regular V10 Plus model and is equipped with a seven-speed S tronic transmission and quattro AWD.

The LMX trim has some subtle touches to distinguish it from lesser R8s. It has a wealth of added carbon fiber around the front spoiler lip, side blades, engine compartment cover, rear wing, rear diffuser and other areas. The fixed rear spoiler adds downforce on the rear axle. Custom Ara Blue paint is an available option on the model, inspired by the blue light the lasers emit before it's turned white by the phosphor converter. Matte Daytona Grey and metallic Mythos Black are also paint options. Red calipers and carbon ceramic brake discs peek out from behind the 20-spoke 19-in wheels.

The LMX interior gets blue contrast stitching on its quilted leather

The blue-laser theme continues inside, where the Nappa leather seats include Sepang Blue stitching and Ara Blue backrest covers. The blue stitching can also be found on the Alcantara headlining, leather door panels, floor mats, and equipment like the steering wheel and parking brake lever. Illuminated aluminum badges in the carbon fiber door sill trims highlight the limited edition model number.

The R8 LMX will make an appearance at the Goodwood Festival of Speed in late June. Audi will build 99 examples, each with a price starting at £160,025/€210,000 (US$280K). The car will hit the streets this summer on mainland Europe and in the fall over in the UK.

Hopefully, it won't take long after launch to get some video of a laser-lit night race between the BMW and Audi sports flagships.

Source: Audi

About the Author
C.C. Weiss Upon graduating college with a poli sci degree, Chris toiled in the political world for several years. Realizing he was better off making cynical comments from afar than actually getting involved in all that mess, he turned away from matters of government and news to cover the things that really matter: outdoor recreation, cool cars, technology, wild gadgets and all forms of other toys. He's happily following the wisdom of his father who told him that if you find something you love to do, it won't really be work.   All articles by C.C. Weiss
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9 Comments

Hello, I think Audi R8 shining bright with laser high beams, could bother other people on the road, blinding them, couldn't it? Bye.

AritzCP
13th May, 2014 @ 02:40 am PDT

I think this is someothing James Bond would like, especially if Q ups the power of the laser. Instead of illuminating the area ahead of the vehicle, it would eliminate whatever is keeping Bond from getting away. :)

Personally, I think it is cool idea but how would it keep from blinding others? (like the other reply indicated).

BigGoofyGuy
13th May, 2014 @ 05:46 am PDT

Um...glare.

It helps if you read the article before asking the question. To wit: "The automaker claims the laser lights offer double the range of the LED units themselves. The R8 LMX's camera-based sensor system detects other road users and adjusts the light pattern to prevent glare and distraction."

Next!

Bruce H. Anderson
13th May, 2014 @ 08:22 am PDT

Read the copy:

"The R8 LMX's camera-based sensor system detects other road users and adjusts the light pattern to prevent glare and distraction."

Glen Jacobsen
13th May, 2014 @ 08:36 am PDT

To those concerned about laser light:

Quoting from the article, "...the blue light the lasers emit before it's turned white by the phosphor converter."

Not only is the light "turned white" by the phosphor, but it is no longer laser light that is emitted. The phosphor is the actual light source, so there are no laser safety concerns associated with the headlight output. This is a really important point, because if it were still actually laser light, I'm pretty sure no adjustment of "the light pattern to prevent glare and distraction" would be sufficient to pass laser safety regulations.

BTW, this laser-phosphor approach is pretty much the same technique being employed by Sony and Panasonic (and others) for certain models of their video projectors. (Expensive projectors, but 20,000 hour lamp life is claimed).

Nibblonian
13th May, 2014 @ 10:44 am PDT

What if the other road users is a biker, a pedestrian? what if the camera fails.... Why do you need such a bright light to shine the road? What I can say is this is crazy and selfish!

Joe123456
13th May, 2014 @ 12:14 pm PDT

lisc headlights for other makes & models IF safe, bring over to US

Retro fit in older models.

Stephen N Russell
13th May, 2014 @ 05:08 pm PDT

lol...do people even read at all?

"The R8 LMX's camera-based sensor system detects other road users and adjusts the light pattern to prevent glare and distraction."

And:

"Why do you need such a bright light to shine the road?"

Well, how do you feel about driving at night as if it's daylight.

Chan Boriratrit
14th May, 2014 @ 11:52 pm PDT

It wont matter how much "adjusting" is done, the fact is, oncoming drivers WILL get some VERY bright light flashed into their eyes sometimes. And at night, and sometimes in the rain. It is bad enough facing the bright blue Xenon lights that some cars have, this'll be worse.

garyO
15th May, 2014 @ 07:32 am PDT
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