If you’re a regular reader of Loaded 4X4, you’ll know we’re agitating for change in 4WD vehicle design. A lot of the fourbies we get to drive are compromised by lousy brakes (drums in the back axles of utes), lousy traction aids (or none), lousy suspension (for carrying even modest loads) and lousy tyres (passenger car rubber has no place on a 4WD). While we’re at it, we might as well add lousy lighting!
Driving a typical 4WD ute or wagon at night is barely acceptable in an urban environment but out on the highway, or further afield I reckon borders on the criminally negligent. It doesn’t matter whether it’s LOW or HIGH beam, the dismal glow ahead of you will be pathetic with stock headlights, typically a murky yellow fog sent forwards that has zero depth or penetration and as for the edges where the real danger lies, forget it!
Some of that inability to project a decent beam lies in the design of the modern headlight. That trendy swoopy headlight shape impacts on the reflector surface the globe tries to radiate out from, misshapen and irregular instead of symmetrical and even.
So for a lot of us who do a fair bit of night driving, going down the path of auxiliary lighting is not a luxury, it’s a necessity!
I’ve used a succession of driving lights over the years starting with Cibie’s brilliant rally lights in the 1970s and through into the ’80s, the Oscar and the Super Oscar. Now there was a light that had some penetration courtesy of a big domed reflector that was ideally deep, a lens made of glass and a 100W H1 bulb. Back in the day, they didn’t get any better. As my vehicles changed over the years so too did the lights with a succession of IPF versions, the rectangular 800, the round 900 and still seeing active service on my D-MAX the 901 Extreme.
I watched with interest the introduction of light bars and their rapid take-up in the last decade, and that surely must have marked the greatest leap in automotive lighting design, all thanks to the LED bulb.
The difference is, of course, the colour of the light and depending on how many bulbs you line up in your array, the brilliance they display.
Two years ago when I was building up my wife’s Isuzu M-UX, I thought long and hard about what we were going to do about lights because as we already know, the stock issue is designed for the city. Our regular haunts see us in plenty of areas where the risk of an animal strike is a given and often because of time constraints we’re travelling much of those journeys in darkness, not ideal, but that’s the way it is.
So rather than add even more risk to those moments I elected to fit ARB’s Intensity light bar, and despite the initial hit to my pocket, I’m now firmly of the opinion it was some of the best money I could have spent.
The Intensity is a beautifully crafted piece of aluminium and polycarbonate and in our case integrates perfectly with the top tube of our ARB Deluxe bull bar. That point needs mentioning again because positioning it at the same height as the top tube keeps it legal and doesn’t interfere with the view ahead or interrupt the flow of air into the M-UX’s radiator area as there’s no obstruction between bumper and bonnet.
The mounting brackets are robust, something I can’t say about some of the low-rent light bars I’ve seen attached to some vehicles whose connections look flimsy and ready to fatigue on corrugations.
They are additionally well thought out because they have a theft-proof locking nut with a unique head that can’t be replicated, so pinching one is impossible (you’d have to take an angle grinder to the bull bar to nick it).
With 40 LEDs (2 rows of 20) and activated through a Carling switch in the dash, the effect when turned on is immediate, and the light is well, illuminating!
There’s a whole bunch of useful technical data on ARB’s website for Intensity that you can read, that’ll explain the development of the light and all of the important specs, that should prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that this is a good bit of kit.