What we have the right to tell you about the Porsche HD Matrix
Immerse yourself in the most total secrecy of the Porsche factory in Weissach after a short tourist visit to the beautiful brand museum in Zuffenhausen. Here is the program for this working day on November 7, when the manufacturer was to show us for the first time its new light technology, which will be found on all future models in the range. The perfect opportunity for an automotive journalist to closely spy on the brand’s work on a site teeming with development mules and other prototypes of future vehicles. As soon as we enter the Weissach site, moreover, we come across several of these camouflaged prototypes regularly photographed on the Nordschleife or the roads of the region. Problem: Porsche made us come here on the sole condition of signing numerous papers, including a black-and-white sheet prohibiting talking about the prototypes seen during that day. In principle, it’s more or less like taking you to Nevada’s Area 51 and telling you to keep everything to yourself.
So, back to the main topic: light. If Porsche made us come to Weissach, it’s not to make us try a car. Anyway, we did sit down on the passenger seat of a development prototype whose camouflage, perforated in some places, revealed particularly interesting details. But unfortunately I can not say more on pain of criminal prosecution. In short, light. Porsche introduced us to the HD Matrix, the technology that will equip the front optics of all the brand’s next production models. Rather known for the performance of its cars and the sensations of driving its machines, Porsche hunts on the ground of Audi or BMW who love to communicate on the light signature and the hi-tech details of their headlights.
LEDs better than laser?
While Audi and BMW have been marketing headlights with laser technology for a few years on their top-of-the-range models, the new headlights from Porsche are content with an LED system. But instead of the 84 LED optics fitted to its current vehicles, this HD Matrix system has just under 33,000 LEDs per headlight, divided into 4 modules.
Making extensive use of the latest generation micro-LEDs, this system, according to Porsche, makes it possible to improve lighting precision as much as possible, while benefiting from a maximum range of 600 meters (like the laser) and widening the field lighting. Better than Audi and BMW’s laser? Yes, again according to Porsche experts: “According to our research, laser technology has more flaws than good ones”they tell us. “Laser power is too tricky to harness in real life because of eye hazard. It therefore only works within a limited scope. Quite the opposite of our LED system, which we believe has the best efficiency while also limiting energy consumption and even weight, all with similar light output in real life.”.
Porsche’s new light signature
Until now, Porsche’s daytime light signature consisted of four round dots in the style of a revolver barrel, accompanied by a large central dot at night in low beam. The signature of the new HD Matrix headlights retains the style of the four light blocks, but remains the same day and night unlike the old system. For the geeks, Porsche has planned a little choreography when starting and stopping the car. Note that it remains more sober than the effects from Audi.
On the road, it’s impressive
After a long theoretical presentation and many slides stuffed with very sharp elements in terms of light, Porsche then installed us in the passenger seat of a development vehicle to experience the effectiveness of this HD Matrix system at night, once immersed in traffic around Weissach. Without being able to tell you about the vehicle in question, let’s focus on these famous headlights. Coupled with the car’s front camera, the navigation data and even the infrared camera (optional only), the HD Matrix system constantly analyzes the parameters in order to light its tens of thousands of LEDs and orient their beam best possible given the conditions. Note that the headlight clusters are now fixed, even when the light beam follows the angle of the steering wheel when cornering.
From our own observation, these new headlights do indeed offer impressive performance: the car keeps full headlights as soon as it leaves built-up areas and illuminates the road and its surroundings with remarkable efficiency. Above all, this lighting remains excellent even when a vehicle arrives in front. The latter is then obscured with ultra-precise contouring and no car has ever sent us headlight flashes to show any glare. Thanks to the connection with navigation, the system also recognizes driving situations on motorways with a central reservation. It then retains full headlights permanently, while automatically deactivating the LEDs illuminating the lanes opposite, so as not to dazzle drivers driving over them. The system also projects a luminous “carpet” in front of the car, materializing the lane in which it is traveling to help the driver. This feature seems less useful to us and can be disabled via the car menus. Also note that with the optional infrared camera, the system will flash detected passers-by to alert the driver.
Better than Audi?
It would of course be necessary to carry out the same test route with a restyled Audi A8 or a BMW 7 Series to see which of the systems displays the best efficiency. But the speed of reaction and adaptation of the Porsche HD Matrix amazed us during this course carried out in perfect conditions, with all the same certain limits: on the hilly portions, the field of the light beam cannot illuminate the top of the large bumps for legal reasons related to anti-glare precautions. And Porsche admits that its system works much less well when it rains or there is fog, the water-laden atmosphere forcing the maximum lighting power to be reduced (and also hampering the effectiveness of the camera). In any case, get ready to discover this new look at all future production Porsches, starting with the camouflaged vehicle, the name of which we don’t even have the right to reveal to you.