The bright stuff
Audi scores a first in Australia with laser high beams
AUDI has won the race to put the first laser lights on Australian roads.
BMW is still battling to get approval for the sharp-shooting high-beams on its coming i8 hybrid sports car — but Audi is ready to go with a top-end update of its R8.
It intends to land a handful of R8 LMX V10 supercars before the end of the year, each fitted with laser high beams as part of a performance package that increases output to 419kW — and the price beyond $400,000.
Audi says the LMX is the fastest production Audi yet to 100km/h, covering the benchmark sprint in 3.4 seconds.
But laser lights could have the greatest impact in the longer term, as the landmark setup will trickle down through the Audi range as prices fall. “The only question is when, and which models,” Audi Australia managing director Andrew Doyle tells Carsguide at the Le Mans 24-hour race in France — Audi’s winning R18 e-tron quattro combined laser and LEDs to light the track at up to 300km/h through the night.
“Like a lot of technology, the laser lights will trickle down. I don’t know if they will be in everything, but we have the S3 now with LED headlamps, which were originally only in the A8,” says Doyle. Audi Australia says it has not had any problem in certifying the R8’s lights.
BMW has been blocked by regulations limiting the output of lights — measured in lumens — despite the ability to tailor the range and spread of the light pattern with smart optics and computerised controls.
A single light source in each laser headlamp is split and then focused via a series of mirrors and lenses. It is very compact and, on high beam, can throw light more than twice as far as an LED unit.
On the LMX front, the car is a limited run of just 99 copies with a tweaked V10, 20-spoke alloy wheels and ceramic brakes, and minor body differences to give it a slightly sharper look and improved aero performance.
The LMX is likely to be the final version of the current R8, as Audi is working on a secondgeneration car that gets the basic chassis now underneath the Lamborghini Huracan. Doyle expects only a handful of examples to land in Australia: “But I think the car tells a lot about the Audi brand (and) what the brand can do. It sets a halo effect for the rest of the brand. Anything like this is a good opportunity. And there is often demand for these cars in Australia, even at a low volume.”