BMW 320d M Sport : Adaptive headlights

  • Our BMW's Visibility Package impresses us with adaptive headlight technology, but costs £925
  • Automatically switches between dipped and full beam, and bends light output round corners
  • 320d makes a visit to the dealer to have reversing light bulb replaced, all covered under warranty

The nights are getting longer now, but it won’t be long until summer comes. When our BMW 320d M Sport was delivered at the start of the year it felt like it was dark all the time. Getting up for work – pitch dark. Leaving work in the evening – pitch dark. Lunchtime in the office – I’d have wagered it would’ve been pitch dark if it wasn’t for the floor to ceiling windows.

But despite the late rises and the early sunsets, YH14 VJP was there ready and waiting to come to my rescue, thanks to its Visibility Package. Consisting of Adaptive Xenon headlights, with high beam assist and headlight wash system, the price of such illumination is a not inconsiderable £925.

Try and add each of those individually, and you’ll pay rather more; the Xenon lights would be £710, the High Beam Assist £150 and the headlight wash system a further £210 – totalling £1,070. The Adaptive element of the headlights is only available as part of that Visibility Pack.

Those Xenon headlights are bright. Properly bright. It’s easy to take them for granted – you soon get used to them - but step into a car with conventional halogen lamps and the difference is like night and day. Brighter, able to pierce through the weather conditions more effectively and with a cooler, whiter luminescence it’s a far superior experience.

Thanks to the Adaptive System, and High Beam Assist, they work on maximum output for the most amount of time. A camera in the windscreen, just in-front of the rear view mirror, monitors traffic up to 1,000 metres ahead and relays information back to the light units accordingly.

When another vehicle approaches it blanks off the portion of beam that would otherwise dazzle the oncoming traffic, turning off the right hand high beam just as they arrive at the outer reaches of the light’s throw. As soon as the vehicle has passed by, maximum illumination is reinstated and you have a perfect view ahead.

BMW 320d lights

When following traffic the system adjusts its light path to the bottom of the car in front’s bumper, for up to 400 metres. Close that gap and the 320d blanks out the middle portion of the light beam, creating a dark tunnel for the other car to travel in while throwing full beam around the outside of it.

We’ve never experienced it, but we’ll assume it’s like a close encounter of the third kind, as the road and undergrowth glow bright white around them.

BMW adaptive lights

And if a car comes in the opposite direction at the same time, it’ll still create that ‘tunnel’ while blanking off the right-hand high beam and combine disciplines. All while bending its lights, and maintaining its desired beam pattern, around corners.

Clever stuff, and from behind the wheel it’s like your own individual laser light show – in fact initially I found it rather mesmerising – and now having used it wouldn’t want to be without it. Even if lengthy summer evenings are now upon us.

BMW reverse light

Unusually the BMW hasn’t consistently tripped the light fantastic though, intermittently flashing up a ‘Reverse light failure’ warning on start-up, which soon swapped from being occasional to permanent.

A rare (for a long term test car) trip to Sycamore BMW, Peterborough, ensued.  Happy to help without any pre-booking, it did take some time, since the service centre was full of paying customers. The bulb replacement was covered under warranty and the 320d was given a complimentary wash and vacuum, so I have little cause for complaint.

BMW at dealer

Bulb swap effected, it’s so far cured the problem – which means the BMW’s back to lighting up my life once again.


Mileage: 5,672 miles                            Economy:  47.2mpg (calculated)