Thursday, 31 January 2013

Road - Lighting up

Just the other week I was cursing the Bi-Xenon headlamps fitted to a Vauxhall I was driving. And yes, the lights did provide excellent illumination, but I got fed up being flashed at by oncoming drivers who thought I wasn’t dipping my own lights. By the end of the week I was really getting quite annoyed, because even on dip, the light intensity and spread were obviously affecting some folk.

So it was a relief to get behind the wheel of a Mercedes-Benz A250 this past week which had its Bi-Xenon headlamps controlled by Merc’s Intelligent Light system (ILS). I have mentioned this system before, but was still sceptical. Each manufacturer claims that their own lights don’t dazzle, but that’s not my experience.

However the German ILS system works and works well. Driving back from Kelso in the early hours of the morning last weekend between thawing snowbanks on black, glistening roads with equally black puddles I didn’t get flashed once. The biggest surprise was the number of other vehicles I encountered on the country roads at this time of night/morning!

Once on to the Edinburgh by-pass and M8 motorway, the lights self-adjusted to a new mode to further reduce the possibility of dazzle.

And therein lies the secret. The ILS system adjusts not just the dipping and full beam functions, but the angle of the lights, the actual spread of the beams and the length of the ‘cone’.

It’s another example of computers assuming control of elementary driving functions, but with one big difference, this system works.

There is just one drawback. It’s a £1430 option on a Merc. But having experienced these lights in such adverse conditions, maybe a system like this should be mandatory on all vehicles with Bi-Xenon headlights. Especially those selfish gits who drive large 4x4s with wheels the size of wind turbines and don’t give a toss who they upset.

Oh, and by the way, as for the A250, it was the AMG Sport version. 211 hp, what's not to like?

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