If the shorter days of the autumn season weren’t obvious enough, this week, the clocks go back. Soon, school runs, homeward commutes and afternoon shopping trips will be done in near or complete darkness, which – unless you live in the heavily lit centre of a city – can be a cause for added stress on the road. No number of carrots with your dinner can help. But securing a car with clever darkness-fighting tech, can. As we’re about to explain.
Below, we’ve compiled a helpful list of five cars equipped with technology that can help you peer through the darkness and feel safe at any hour of an autumn or winter day. They’re all very useful, so follow in no particular order.
Audi digital Matrix LED technology
Audi might not be the only car manufacturer to produce headlights capable of automatically dipping their full beams when traffic is ahead these days, but, along with Volvo, it was certainly one of the pioneers. Using Matrix LED technology – which has nothing to do with Morpheus’s pills, but rather features an array of digitally-controlled LEDs – an Audi’s light beam can be split so it doesn’t dazzle the other driver, while maintaining the full beam illumination ahead.
That means you get maximum illuminated visibility all of the time, and not just when the road ahead is totally clear, leaving you to focus on driving safely. Genius.
Rolls-Royce night vision cameras
While it’s true that Rolls-Royce is presently the only car manufacturer to equip its cars with a standard-fit night vision camera, it’s not the only one to offer the technology. Handy for those of us who aren’t millionaires. Plenty of premium brands – Audi, Mercedes and BMW included – have night vision cameras as options, providing the same screen-illustrated view of the road ahead in black and white night vision. Even if the headlights provide enough light to see ahead, this military night vision goggle-aping tech is ultra-cool.
Each manufacturer to offer the system makes the same claims for boosted vision, even when the top-spec headlights are fitted to a car. If you want to be as safe as possible at night, it’s an option box worth ticking.
Land Rover 360-degree cameras
Plenty of us will have been there: you’ve taken a wrong turning into a pitch-black country lane and don’t fancy finding out what scariness is located at the other end of it. You need to make a three-point (or, more realistically, a 10-point) turn and go back, but the light between the hedgerows is almost non-existent. That’s where the latest batch of 360-degree cameras can step in and help, and few manufacturers use systems of this sort as advanced as Land Rover.
The new Defender doesn’t just have 360-degree camera visibility with lighting to boost the sightline, but also cameras to keep an eye on ground clearance. It means you aren’t just able to make sure you can manoeuvre safely through tight gaps, but also drive over otherwise hidden obstacles – like big rocks – with brilliant accuracy.
Hyundai steering and lane keep assist
Hyundai has been one of the most eager adopters of road positioning assistance technology, to ensure that even when you’re unsure of exactly where the white lines are, the car can keep you on the right path. Plenty of brands offer their own version of this technology, but Hyundai was one of the first to fully embrace it. In the daytime, when the white lines ahead are in full sight, there’s good reason to switch the systems off. But at night, it’s a big, confidence boosting feeling to know the car is constantly watching your line.
You can, of course, go one step further in cars such as the Mercedes S-Class, which can even take care of the pedals on the motorway and A-road roundabouts. But it’s a mark of the trickle-down nature of automotive technology that a humble Hyundai i20 can come with so much assistance technology these days.
Mercedes-Benz Magic Vision wipers
While not strictly a night vision system, Mercedes-Benz’s super effective washer-wiper system – coined Magic Vision by the company – is a godsend when muck or mist adorns the outside of your windscreen at night. Where conventional windscreen washer jets fire messily onto the glass and the wipers spread the settling water about to clear your sightline, Mercedes’s system integrates the jets into the wipers themselves. Simples.
The combining of jet and wiper not only prevents your sight from being temporarily obscured by unwiped water, it also makes for a more consistently perfect clean. When you’re driving down an unlit country lane or A-road, every tenth of enhanced visibility matters.