Taillights that merely turn on and off are so yesterday: The all-new Audi A7 Sportback features taillights with 13 individual vertical segments that can illuminate in a domino-like sequence when the car’s doors are locked and unlocked. And it’s not just the taillights — the HD Matrix LED headlights with laser light feature similar vertical elements that light up in a successive pattern. In short, there are almost enough running vertical elements to make the new A7 seem like a police car from a movie set 30 years in the future.
Audi says the goal was “highlighting the big coupe’s dynamics while standing still,” but we have a feeling that someone at Audi may have watched way too many episodes of “Knight Rider.” The effect is similar to KITT, though KITT had a fictional reason for them within the show’s canon. The A7, on the other hand, has those taillights just because Audi could build ’em
he purpose of these taillights, from what we can tell, is mostly to say “Does your car do that?” Also as a corollary, these taillights are saying “Your car is old and uncool,” or that it’s “undynamic and inefficient,” which must be one of the strongest insults in German.
There’s one more thing, something that almost slid under the radar as we were transfixed by the operation of these lights: The tailights themselves are now completely connected from end to end. This is perhaps an even more significant evolution when it comes to Audi design than the vertical elements of the taillights themselves. Since the 1970s, when modern Audi design took shape (yes, it was really that long ago), the automaker has kept the taillights rather square on almost all cars, only joining them together on models such as the original Quattro via a reflective strip that ran along the bottom of the trunk lid.
We’ll have to wait and see if this design spreads to the rest of the range, or if Audi keeps this a niche item on the A7 Sportback to set it apart from the rest of the lineup. But you can bet that other German automakers are now scratching their heads and thinking of ways to top these taillights.