Audi A8 2013 spy shots

New Audi A8 to feature groundbreaking headlight technology when it's unveiled later this year

The significantly updated Audi A8 will debut before the end of this year, Auto Express can confirm.

From these spy shots we can’t gauge the extent of the visual tinkering but there are a few clues that mark this new Mercedes S-Class rival out against the current A8.

At the front, it has a wider more menacing grille, and there's a new set of split taillights. You may also notice the A8 is fitted with a new set of headlights, using Matrix LED technology. They're comprised of 25 high-beam diodes, which are clustered together in groups of five and work in conjunction with reflectors.

Unlike conventional high-beam headlights, the Matrix LED array is so advanced when the A8 detects an oncoming car, the headlights can be activated, deactivated or dimmed depending on the situation and can even block out light that would otherwise shine directly onto oncoming traffic. This can all be done while still maintaining full illumination with high-beam.

Another advantages of the Matrix LED technology is that it can team up with the optional night vision assist to detect pedestrians in the dark. When a pedestrian is detected and assessed to be too close, the LED lights will flash rapidly three times to alert them of the cars presence. Additionally, the new headlights also feature a cornering function and as the lights are supplied with data from the onboard GPS so they corner before the steering wheel has been turned.

As for the engines, it's possible Audi could produce a rival for the Porsche Panamera S e-hybrid by introducing a plug-in hybrid model. At the opposite end of the spectrum an Audi S8 is likely, offering the upcoming Mercedes S-Class AMG some stiff opposition.

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