Real World Test: Audi A8 / S8 Matrix LED Headlights on Highway

Audi has been talking the big talk about its new Matrix LED technology for over a year now. They've bombarded us with brochures and videos, which no-doubt have convinced many buyers to click those option boxes. Nonetheless, short of actually asking your local dealer to loan a test car overnight, there's no way of experiencing it first-hand.
Audi A8 / S8 Matrix LED 1 photo
Photo: screenshot from Youtube
Now there is, thanks to this video from GT Board that shows the Matrix LED system used on full high beams at highway speeds. Besides being connected to a thumping V8 twin-turbo engine inside the body of an S8, this slick camera action has the added advantage of being filmed in 4K quality.

The Audi A8 facelift was the first new model to benefit from the all-LED adaptive system Audi calls "Matrix". The German company has long had adjustable headlight systems based on its HID Bi-Xenon units, but this one works a little differently.

On the A8, the headlight system is split into three pieces. The uppermost unit has five diodes for the high beams, followed by the low beam ones below it and the "Module" at the bottom. This now combine the daytime running lights, side markers and turn signal functions into one.

In concept at least, the Matrix LED system is pretty simple. Each individual diode can be controlled independently. By automatically fading out of some of the beams, other road users are not blinded while the drive has a maximized field of visibility. Of course, it actually took thousands of hours to conceive and develop.

Is the technology expensive?

No, not really. On the A8, it costs only 960 euros more than the standard LEDs. The system has just been launched on the new A6 and A7 model range, being expected to debut on the all-new Q7 in early 2015. Sadly, none of this info is relevant to our US readers, since the system has been deemed illegal in the States.

After watching the video, we were strangely underwhelmed by the headlight system's performance. On a two-lane highway, you're basically running on standard low beams if you're anywhere near another motorist, with small cones of light appearing on either side. These seem useless at first glance, but if pedestrians or wild animals are there, they could prove life-savers.

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About the author: Mihnea Radu
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Mihnea's favorite cars have already been built, the so-called modern classics from the '80s and '90s. He also loves local car culture from all over the world, so don't be surprised to see him getting excited about weird Japanese imports, low-rider VWs out of Germany, replicas from Russia or LS swaps down in Florida.
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