Digital awakening of the light

The latest-generation Audi A7 Sportback stands for the progressive design idiom of Ingolstadt’s full-size class. A shining example: the styling of its lights.

Jan Strahl (copy) & AUDI AG (photo)


How do you give a contemporary car’s complex digital technologies a face? How can an Audi A7 Sportback show that its outstanding processor technology has taken ride comfort and safety to a new dimension—or at least to a new level of automated driving? Any encounter with the new Audi Gran Turismo on the street is enlightening—in the truest sense. The Audi A7 Sportback sends its digital message through its lights.

“With the design of the daytime running lights, their segmentation and the resulting interplay of light and shadow, we created an analogy to the zeroes and ones that make up binary code,” says Konrad Tröger, light designer at Audi. “We bring the digital features to life in a physical way, creating a language for the digital aesthetic.”

But the sophisticated technology inside the electronic brain of the Audi A7 Sportback is more than just an aspect the light design echoes and gives shape to; in the new Audi A7 Sportback, the light itself has become digital and is controlled electronically. The light designers used these features to sharpen perceptions of the vehicle as a whole. “It goes without saying that the lights underscore the car’s progressive overall character. In a symbiotic relationship with the sculpted lines of the exterior, the lights’ focused gaze enhances the car’s dynamic appearance, especially at the front. The positioning of the light elements segues from the exterior contours, emphasizing the taut, muscular body design,” Tröger explains. On the car’s rear end, the full-width light strip creates a presence on the road, connecting the sporty, low shoulder line right across the rear and pinpointing the Audi A7 Sportback as a force to be reckoned with in the Ingolstadt carmaker’s full-size lineup. Especially in the dark when the car’s striking lines are less visible, the unmistakable light signature sends a clear signal that this is an Audi Gran Turismo making its way through the night.

Digital-dynamic light signatures, used here for the first time, are an added highlight. “First impressions count, with cars just as much as with people,” says César Muntada, head of lighting design at Audi. “That’s why, as soon as the Audi A7 Sportback is unlocked, it greets the driver with a digital awakening of its lights. This emotional light animation reflects the car’s individual character.” Locking the vehicle launches a different dance of the diodes. In designing light signatures that are unique to each model yet clearly evidence the Audi DNA, the company has given each model its own badge. And now these badges have taken a dynamic form. “With characteristic coming-home and leaving-home sequences, the Audi A7 illustrates the appeal of motion. It’s a one-of-a-kind tool that will define the light show as an Audi feature.”

The progressive character of the Audi A7 Sportback is expressed not only through the lights’ design but also the technologies behind them. As part of the top equipment line, the optional horizontally-split Audi HD Matrix LED lights are available with laser high beams. All light functions operate digitally, so each of the daytime running lights’ segments can be activated individually, enabling effects such as the well-known dynamic (“sweeping”) turn signal.

The lighting concept continues in the interior as well, where the light underscores and precisely traces the lines and contours of the overall architecture. Here, the generously spread light elements emphasize the interior’s clear formal idiom. Optional expansive ambient lighting creates a sense of space and buoyancy. Audi offers two interior lighting options in the new Audi A7 Sportback: the contour and the contour ambient lighting packages. Each sets a subtle stage for the space, volume and materials. The ambient light in the dashboard and center console seems to hold the architectural mass aloft. In the door, it enhances the roomy feel. “Precision-set lighting elements trace the entire interior architecture, lending it a dynamic expression and accentuating the interior concept,” Tröger says. Contour lighting can be individually adapted, with 30 different light scenarios for the driver to choose from.

“Audi has been an innovation driver in light design and technology for years,” Muntada says, describing a four rings forte that is also impeccably expressed in the Audi A7 Sportback. “We use light to communicate our distinct, progressive design message, and continue to strike out on new paths with our developments in design and technology. I would even go so far as to say: Audi is light.”

Audi A7 Sportback 55 TFSI quattro fuel consumption urban/extra-urban/combined (in l/100 km): 9.3-9.1/5.9- 5.4/7.2-6.8 CO2 emissions combined (in g/km): 163-154. Where stated in ranges, fuel consumption, CO2 emissions and efficiency classes depend on tires/wheels used.

Further information on official fuel consumption figures and the official specific CO2 emissions of new passenger cars can be found in the guide “Information on the fuel consumption, CO2 emissions and electricity consumption of new cars”, which is available free of charge at all sales dealerships and from DAT Deutsche Automobil Treuhand GmbH, Hellmuth-Hirth- Strasse 1, 73760 Ostfildern-Scharnhausen, Germany (