Audi Debuting Sport Quattro Plug-in Hybrid Sports Car Concept at CES

By · January 03, 2014

Audi Sport quattro concept car

Automakers have been building high tech consumer electronics wizardry into cars over recent years, and as a result, the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas is starting to compete with the North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) in Detroit for automotive debuts. This year, Audi is coming not to an auto show, but at the 2014 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, to show off a new plug-in hybrid sports car.

The Audi Sport quattro laserlight concept car is a tour de force of high performance (0-60 in 3.7 seconds), high fuel efficiency (94 miles/gallon), a respectable 30 miles of electric driving range, a cutting-edge laser headlight system, and a high-end on-board infotainment system.

The Audi Sport quattro laserlight concept is reminiscent of the classic Sport quattro of 1983, but with modern high technologies to deliver exceptional—for a sports car—efficiency. Audi claims the Sport quattro laserlight points to the future, demonstrating the "Vorsprung durch Technik" (advancement through technology) that is Audi's calling card.

The laser headlight system is on the cutting edge of lighting. It combines "matrix LED" and "laser light" technology to—with a laser diode that's significantly smaller than current LED diodes—generate twice the lighting range and three times the lumosity of LED high beam lights.

Audi's press release doesn't give many details on this system, but but a recent IEEE Spectrum article discusses a laser headlight system developed by BMW for its i8 plug-in hybrid. BMW's technology is tuned to shine nearly full-spectrum light, close to natural daylight, which is claimed to reduce eye strain in drivers. Additionally it uses even less energy than regular LED headlights (30 watts versus 40 watts.) Audi's laser headlight system will be used in the company's hybrid race car, the Audi R18 e-tron quattro, in the 2014 World Endurance Cup.

While the infotainment system has advanced three-dimension high resolution graphics powered by Nvidia processors, with advanced information displays, it's the drive-train we're most interested in.

Audi designed the Sport quattro laserlight concept with a large gasoline engine and smaller electric motor. The 8-cylinder, 4.0-liter turbocharged gas engine produces 560 horsepower and 700 Nm (516.29 lb-ft) of torque. It has a "cylinder on demand" system that turns off four of the cylinders when less power is required, and there is an auto start-stop system to reduce idling time. Located between the engine and the transmission is a disc-shaped electric motor that produces 110 kW and 400 Nm (295.02 lb-ft). The 14.1 kilowatt-hour battery pack allows for roughly 30 miles of electric driving range.

It supports three driving modes. In EV mode it, of course, drives only on electricity. In Hybrid mode, the gas engine and electric motor are used interchangeably, as needed. This mode can operate in either Hold or Charge so the driver can choose whether to simply maintain a minimal state of charge, or to use the gas engine to recharge the battery pack. In Sport mode, the system is configured for maximum power, delivering 0-60 mph acceleration in under 3.7 seconds and topping out at a top speed of 190 mph.

Audi has shown several electrified sports car concepts over the years, demonstrating that their engineers are trying out different ideas. Parent company, the Volkswagen Group, has pledged to take a leadership role in electrified vehicles by 2017. If true, that's quite a climb from where they are now, but with vehicles of this ilk on the drawing board Audi, Porsche and VW could have something cool up their sleeves.

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