• Laser headlights provide more light than LEDs
  • Tech features are integrated into a simplified interior design
  • Plug-in hybrid powertrain with V8 engine makes 700 horsepower

Although Audi has yet to confirm it, the Audi Sport Quattro Laserlight concept car that recently appeared at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) appears ready to become a production model. The design of the Sport Quattro is based on the road and rally car of the same name, which Audi raced to great success in the early 1980s. But the concept car brings that design into the 21st century with high-tech innovations that weren't feasible 30 years ago. These include laser headlights, a simplified yet advanced interior design and a plug-in hybrid powertrain with an awesome, 700-hp total output.

LED headlights are increasingly common for high-end luxury cars, and the technology is even making its way into more affordable models. Audi helped LED lighting for vehicles become more popular when it offered brighter, more energy-efficient lighting just a few years ago. Now the automaker has developed laser lighting that's brighter and more powerful than LED, let alone more common than projector beam or high-intensity xenon lighting.

The Audi Sport Quattro Laserlight concept includes both LEDs and lasers. A matrix of LED lights provides low-beam headlights. Tiny laser diodes are used for the high-beam headlights. Audi says the new lights provide twice the range of LED high-beams, pitching light 1,640 feet or about a third of a mile. The lasers are brighter than LEDs, too, providing three times the luminosity.

The interior of the new Audi Sport Quattro concept is deceptively simple in appearance but includes the latest technology. The display for Audi's MMI connectivity system is integrated into a configurable instrument panel in front of the driver. It displays media and navigation information, or can be switched to show a classic analog-style speedometer. Controls are simplified; climate control functions are operated through a single switch built into the air nozzles.

A plug-in hybrid powertrain motivates the Audi Sport Quattro Laserlight concept, combining a conventional, turbocharged V8 with an electric motor and battery pack. Total output of 700 hp is routed through an 8-speed automatic transmission to all four wheels. To improve efficiency, cylinder deactivation allows the engine to run on just four cylinders, and a start-stop function shuts down the engine in stop-and-go traffic. The Audi Sport Quattro can also deliver 31 miles of electric-only driving range for estimated fuel economy of about 94 miles per gallon.

Representatives from Audi have hinted that the Sport Quattro is likely to become a production vehicle, but exactly when and where it will be available remains unknown.

What it means to you: Audi's Sport Quattro Laserlight concept car appears poised for production. New, brighter laser headlights may also be available on Audi vehicles soon.

author photo

Nick Palermo is an automotive writer and lifelong car nut. He follows new and late-model used vehicles for AutoTrader.com, writes about vintage cars for Hemmings Classic Wheels and blogs on all things automotive at LivingVroom. He lives in Atlanta with his wife and twins.

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