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Audi Sport Quattro Laserlight Plug-In Hybrid Concept To Premiere At CES

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Most modern concept cars are lightly glitzed-up versions of the cars we'll see on the streets in subsequent years, but every so often an automaker develops a concept simply to show off its future technology.

That's certainly the case with the Audi Sport Quattro Laserlight plug-in hybrid concept going on display at this year's Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.

If you hadn't guessed from the name, the concept has been designed to show off Audi's laser headlight technology--expected to become more and more prevalent in luxury and sports cars over the coming years.

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BMW's i8 plug-in hybrid coupe will be first to showcase laser lights on a production vehicle, but Audi is unlikely to be far behind. The Laserlight concept combines matrix LED lights with laser light in each dual-element unit.

The outer trapezoidal element uses matrix LEDs and an aperture mask as part of the car's low beam setup, while the inner units are used for the high beam function.

As with BMW's lights the laser diodes are tiny in size, only a few microns across, but the light they output is incredibly powerful--the beam pattern stretches half a kilometer, or just under a third of a mile. That's around twice the range and three times the luminosity of the firm's already-powerful LED lights.

As proof of concept, Audi has already revealed that it's to use laser headlight technology on this year's R18 e-tron quattro Le Mans racing cars. If they work at 200 mph on the famous Mulsanne Straight, they should be good for your commute...

The concept's drivetrain is another interesting element, combining high power with impressive efficiency.

As ever, we'd advise not reading too deeply into the 94 mpg figure thrown around by Audi--not only is it likely to be based on European testing procedures and therefore optimized for lower-speed driving, but it's dependent on you not making too much use of the concept's 560-horsepower, four-liter bi-turbo V-8 gasoline engine.

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Combined with the electric setup, total power is 700-hp and torque reaches 590 pounds-feet. It's enough to reach 62 mph in 3.7 seconds and nudge 190 mph flat out.

Power is transmitted through an eight-speed tiptronic automatic gearbox to all four wheels, as part of Audi's quattro all-wheel drive system.

Electric power is provided by way of a 14.1 kWh lithium-ion battery pack in the rear of the car, with enough juice for 31 miles of all-electric driving. Like the A3 e-tron we examined last year, Audi would provide drivers with a dedicated wall box for their garage as part of the ownership package.

Despite all this power and technology, the concept is relatively compact--at 181 inches long it's four inches shorter than Audi's A4 sedan. It's 5.5 inches wider though, and 1.5 inches shorter for a much more dramatic stance. Overall weight is 4,078 lbs.

In terms of styling, the Sport Quattro  Laserlight echoes other recent Audi concepts with a black front grille and sharply-defined fenders, reminiscent of Audi's old rally quattros.

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