Audi revealed the all-new A7 Sportback last week. And if you watched the launch video, you couldn’t help but notice the LED turn signals and headlights. So let’s take a look at Audi’s latest HD Matrix LED headlights with Audi laser light.
And yes, that’s the official name for them. “HD Matrix LED headlights with Audi laser light,” it’s a mouthful, to say the least, but these ultra-cool headlights deserve a fitting name.
The A7 will have three different lighting options available. The base model’s lights haven’t been shown yet, but we’ve seen the top car’s. It starts with the visual signature, Audi says it “takes up the subject of digitalization.” There are 12 lighting segments on each side with narrow spaces in between. You’re supposed to see those as binary digits. Zeros and ones.
The 12 segments make up the running lights, but will also turn amber as turn signals. The lights have another party trick too, they run sequentially, from inside to outside, to indicate your turn. Audi has done sequential signals before, but never quite like this. The car can even change how many are lit, and put on a show.
It puts on that show for you every time you lock or unlock the car. Called the leaving home and coming home function, the markers and headlights dance around. It’s a show that would make KITT extremely jealous.
The Matrix in the lights’ name means Audi’s Matrix Laser system. That system debuted on the Q8 concept. “Each headlight uses a single laser as the light source, but the beam is broken into a million distinct pixels by the diodes,” said Volker Kaese, Audi’s director of innovation. It uses a tiny and extremely fast moving mirror to aim the beam and adjust the light from high to low, narrow to wide. It can even spotlight obstacles near or in the road, like a pedestrian approaching or errant wildlife.
The laser is just 3 mm in size, and it redirects the light from a series of blue laser diodes. The mirror sends the light through a converter that turns it from blue to white. It’s then projected onto the road. Audi says it delivers more light, more safely, and never throws glare at other drivers. The laser light augments the high and low beam LEDs, it doesn’t replace them.
In the Q8, the system could project words onto the pavement. Like telling pedestrians to stop. It could even project lines on the road to help make sure you knew where the corners of the car were. Audi is putting laser lights on the R8 V10 Plus in America for 2018, so it’s possible that the lights will make it in the A7. Previously, the lights didn’t meet US regulations.
Above the signal lamps, there are still LED high and low beams. It uses more than 30 high-intensity LEDs to provide the illumination. Everything is packed into an ultra-thin and ultra-cool package.
Mid-level A7 trims get Matrix LED headlights. Those models will also have the LED sequential signals just like the top trim car. But even the base car will still have full LED headlights, for both high and low beam. Instead of the LED lamps of the top cars, they will have a more conventional LED strip, much like the last generation car’s lights.
The A7 doesn’t just have cool lights up front. It breaks the Audi mold for taillights too. Take a look at the taillights of an Audi. Any model, doesn’t matter. See the taillights? They’re square. Or at least mostly square. A few have a tiny reflector that might cross over the licence plate, but for the most part, there is plenty of trunk lid in the middle. Not anymore. The A7 has a massive taillight that runs the full width of the rear of the car. It shares this design with the 2018 A8 (and the design will spread to all of Audi’s top cars) but is just that more impressive to look at on the A7.
That whole bar lights up, with the sequential turn signals stretching from the corners to almost the license plate. Above that, the LED brake lights stop in about the same spot as the signals. They have the same 12-space sequence as the front marker lights. But in between the top and bottom lights is an LED bar that lights up the whole way across the rear of the A7. Even that light can move from outside to inside, dancing over the rear of the car.
The rear fog light is integrated immediately above the number plate. The plate is flanked by the reverse lights, all still LED lit.
The A7 Sportback’s lighting is undeniably cool and is on the cutting edge of lighting tech. What’s left is to see just how much of that makes it to North American roads. And how envious buyers of lower trims will be of those who spring for the full light show.