Most powerful Audi R8 shines bright with laser high beams
Audi has revealed the all-new R8 LMX, the most powerful road-going variant of its super sports car. More interesting than its extra 20 ponies is the set of laser eyes staring at the road ahead. The R8 LMX edges out the BMW i8 to the title of world's first production car equipped with standard laser lighting.
We've been hearing about BMW's laser headlights since the 2011 Frankfurt Motor Show, when they were presented on the i8 concept car. BMW announced earlier this year that it planned to make the i8 the first production car with the laser-light option this fall (Northern Hemisphere). It appears that the LMX will beat it out by just a few months.
The R8 was the first Audi model to wear full-LED headlights back in 2008. Perhaps worried about losing the interesting headlamp crown to its rival just to the south, Audi is now using the sports car as the debut vessel for its new laser high beam system.
Audi has been quite determined to shove itself into BMW's laser spotlight. It's quickly caught up in terms of showcasing laser technology, showing its laser light system last year on the R18 e-tron quattro race car and then on the Quattro Laserlight Concept a few weeks later.
Now it's taking the shine right off the BMW i8's claim of first laser headlights on the road. Not only does the LMX's summer launch beat BMW's planned autumn laser-light production start, but Audi is adding the laser lights as standard on the limited-run model, whereas the i8 only has them on its options list. Take that, BMW!
Audi's laser high beam system is activated at speeds above 37 mph (60 km/h), assisting the LED headlamps in illuminating the road. The automaker claims the laser lights offer double the range of the LED units themselves. The R8 LMX's camera-based sensor system detects other road users and adjusts the light pattern to prevent glare and distraction.
Behind its laser eyes, the LMX is based on the R8 V10 Plus spec and gets a power increase up to 570 hp. That cuts its 0-62 mph (96.5 km/h) time to 3.4 seconds and gives it a top speed close to 199 mph (320 km/h). The LMX has the same 398 lb-ft of available torque as the regular V10 Plus model and is equipped with a seven-speed S tronic transmission and quattro AWD.
The LMX trim has some subtle touches to distinguish it from lesser R8s. It has a wealth of added carbon fiber around the front spoiler lip, side blades, engine compartment cover, rear wing, rear diffuser and other areas. The fixed rear spoiler adds downforce on the rear axle. Custom Ara Blue paint is an available option on the model, inspired by the blue light the lasers emit before it's turned white by the phosphor converter. Matte Daytona Grey and metallic Mythos Black are also paint options. Red calipers and carbon ceramic brake discs peek out from behind the 20-spoke 19-in wheels.
The blue-laser theme continues inside, where the Nappa leather seats include Sepang Blue stitching and Ara Blue backrest covers. The blue stitching can also be found on the Alcantara headlining, leather door panels, floor mats, and equipment like the steering wheel and parking brake lever. Illuminated aluminum badges in the carbon fiber door sill trims highlight the limited edition model number.
The R8 LMX will make an appearance at the Goodwood Festival of Speed in late June. Audi will build 99 examples, each with a price starting at £160,025/€210,000 (US$280K). The car will hit the streets this summer on mainland Europe and in the fall over in the UK.
Hopefully, it won't take long after launch to get some video of a laser-lit night race between the BMW and Audi sports flagships.