US-Bound Audi R8s Are Finally Getting Laser Headlights

But you still probably won’t see one. 

byWill Sabel Courtney| PUBLISHED Nov 3, 2016 3:11 PM
US-Bound Audi R8s Are Finally Getting Laser Headlights

The second-generation Audi R8 comes packed with an arsenal of performance hardware, from a screaming naturally-aspirated 5.2-liter V-10 to a power-divying all-wheel-drive system. But U.S. buyers have been deprived of one minor feature packed into the R8 in other markets: laser headlights.

Each of the high beams on the 2017 Audi R8 V10 Plus Exclusive packs a module containing four laser diodes amongst the rest of its LED lighting elements. The module combines the output of those diodes into a blue/violet laser beam (with a 450 nanometer wavelength, if you want to be specific), which is then fired into a phosphor converter that turns the laser blast into bright white light. So no, passing drivers, you don’t need to be worried about having your eyes seared like tuna steaks by blue laser blasts from passing Audis.

The laser-powered beams are only active when the R8’s brights are on and the car is traveling faster than 40 miles per hour. You probably wouldn’t need them below that speed anyway; laser headlights can illuminate roughly twice as much roadway as even LED high beams, casting usable illumination more than a third of a mile down the roadway.

Audi’s original move to keep the headlights that inspired a thousand headline writers to make the same Austin Powers joke from being available on American shores wasn’t motivated out of vitriol; the technology hadn’t been approved by U.S. regulators when the technology launched back 2014. Since then, however, the FDA—which, for reasons we don’t quite understand, apparently has jurisdiction over headlight technology in this country—has approved the laser headlights after BMW reportedly lobbied the agency to green-light (heyo!) the tech for the i8. (The hybrid sports car began offering laser headlights in the States earlier this year.)

In addition to the laser headlights, the R8 V10 Plus Exclusive comes laden with standard features designed to show off the capabilities of Audi’s in-house customization division, Audi Exclusive. Every one of the 25 copies will be painted Quantum Grey, with black trim and an orange stripe on the side. The black-and-orange color scheme continues to the interior, where almost everything that isn’t leather-wrapped is covered in Alcantara. Fixed-back racing seats come standard, as do carbon-ceramic brakes, and most of the aerodynamic accessories—the front splitter, the rear spoiler, etc.–are made of carbon-fiber.

If all those standard features make this R8 sound pricey to you, well, you’d be right. Each car will $230,450 including destination—about $40,000 more than a basic R8 V10 Plus.

Still, though. Laser headlights.