Change Our Mind #9: daytime running light design sucks | Top Gear
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Monday 20th March

Change Our Mind #9: daytime running light design sucks

Does anyone beyond crazed car designers get a kick out of these gimmicky LEDs?

Published: 18 May 2020

Car light design. The rot’s been setting in for a while, and it’s all the fault of clever new LEDs. As soon as LEDs came on the scene in a robust and cost-effective way, cars could have slimmer lights. Animated, scrolling lights. Full-width lights. And just more lights. The number of lights is too damn high.

Look at the new VW Golf GTI. Someone sneezed while modelling the headlights. And then we look lower down, and find what, exactly? A chequered flag, or a dice? Or does it just draw your attention to the fake areas of the grille mesh? A Gofl GTI is meant to be subtle and classy, not a tacky expression of what a car would look like with caterpillar eyebrows and teenage acne.

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Same goes for the current Range Rover. Someone funnier than me once said the loopy LED motif in the headlights reminded them of a Christmas tree decorated by a five-year old. And I’ve never been able to unsee it since. Even when Her Royal Majesty The Queen of Elizabeth is driving one on the news, I still think ‘fairy lights hung in a tantrum'.

It’s spreading. LED mayhem is conquering the front of cars at an alarming rate. The mood board for the Cadillac CT4 apparently featured a walrus and a crying-LOL emoji. The Peugeot 2008 looks like an untidy tally chart, drawn by Wolverine.

And trust Audi to take it too far. See those boxy sections of LED chequerboard in the corners of the new A3’s headlights? That’s Audi’s latest wizard wheeze. Apparently there’ll be an option in a touchscreen sub-sub-sub-menu where you can choose which of the individual lights clustered there are switched on and off.

So, if you like, you can drive along with the car’s lights showing your initials. Or your birthday. Or some anatomical schoolboy graffiti. Lads, lads lads.

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Daytime running lights are, let’s not forget, supposed to be a safety feature, making your car more visible more of the time to other motorists, cyclists and cute furry woodland creatures. How did they become twisted and bastardised into a show-off suite for frustrated jewellery designers? And how do we make it stop? Or, dare you try to change our mind?

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