Audi Sport quattro laserlight concept

Kick-starting 2014 is this year’s first official design study, the Audi Sport Quattro laserlight concept car. It makes its public debut not at a car show – the first major motor show, NAIAS 2014 in Detroit, isn’t until January 13 – but at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas.

The focus of the concept, then, is on the new technology offered, not the car itself. We’ve seen this car before, of course, as Audi showed the very same concept at last year’s Frankfurt show. The only visible difference is the paintjob – Energy Yellow then, Plasma Red now.

Under the hood lies the same 700 hp/800 Nm hybrid powerplant that uses a twin-turbocharged 4.0 TFSI V8 engine collaborating with a 150 hp/400 Nm electric motor. It can get to 100 km/h in 3.7 seconds, on to a top speed of 305 km/h. More impressive still are the claims of 40 km/L and 50 km all-electric range.

Audi Sport quattro laserlight concept

As the full name suggests, this concept showcases Audi’s future lighting technology. The dual headlights – a typical quattro feature, taken from the 1983 original – combine the existing matrix LED tech (outer trapezoidal elements; low beam) with laser lights (inner elements; high beam).

Audi says its laser diodes are significantly smaller than LED units, measuring only a few microns in diameter. The laser high beam illuminates the road as far as 500 metres away – twice the range and three times the luminosity of LED high beam lights. Audi’s 2014 R18 e-tron quattro LMP1 racer will use this technology in the FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC) season, including the 24 Hours of Le Mans in June.

But, while Audi is still prepping its laser light technology for future production applications, BMW has stolen a march on its fellow German rival by offering a comparable lighting system on its new i8 plug-in hybrid sports car. In fact, Munich’s laser headlamps promise a longer lighting range of 600 metres. Watch a video of it in action here.