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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Having rather recently made the switch from S60 R (2004 model, GT transmission) to BMW 330i, I find a number of interesting comparisons. A pleasant and unexpected surprise in the switch is the quality of headlamp system. Volvo has a lot to learn from BMW in this regard. So, here is the comparison.

BMW has four headlamps. The two outer ones are bi-Xenons, and the inner ones are conventional halogens. The Xenons on low beam are slightly better than those on the Volvo, but still have a cutoff that reduces longer range visibility. Push the directional lever away from you, and a couple of little 'eyelids' flip up instantanteously, giving you great light down the road by adding an upper segment without subtracting any of the lower beam lighting. Contrast this with the Volvo approach, in which both Xenons motor upwards in a noticeable fraction of a second, and leave a hole in the lighting pattern close in. Pull the BMW directional lever towards you, and the halogens turn on to give you instantaneous 'flash to pass' effect in the daytime, and give you an extra high flash to supplement the Xenons at night. We all know that Xenons are not very good for a quick daytime flash, since they take a good fraction of a second to ignite fully, so this supplementary halogen approach does work well, and probably saves wear and tear on the expensive high voltage circuitry which fires up the lights.

BMW also adds an adaptive headlight approach (standard on 330i). The headlamps swivel gently with the steering wheel to gain better illumination when going around curves. The effect is subtle, but it works quite well.

BMW does not normally provide daytime running lights, as does Volvo. That capability is programmable, via a user controlled multifunction computer, and I haven't yet tried out the DRL's. To be honest, I am not sure if the DRL's use the halogens or the Xenons. Bimmer owners don't seem to bother with the DRL's, perhaps because the headlamps automatically turn on whenever the ambient light is not very bright, such as on a somewhat cloudy day, or when driving under a cover of trees.

Since I live in an area which has predominantly unlit roads, many of which are in heavily wooded areas, good headlamp function is critical to me. I have to hand Volvo a few demerits for their system, and I want to assure you that a really good bi-Xenon based approach is feasible.

P.S. BMW has a couple of warning stickers under the hood near the headlamps, cautioning about dangerous high voltage. I don't recall that Volvo has those stickers. We should all be advised of the dangers of working near the high voltage modules.
 

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Re: Comparing lighting systems: 'R' Bi-Xenons vs. BMW 3 Series (jelliotlevy)

I have a red warning sticker near my headlights. Something like "Caution 1800V"

George
 

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Re: Comparing lighting systems: 'R' Bi-Xenons vs. BMW 3 Series (jelliotlevy)

Quote, originally posted by jelliotlevy »
. The two outer ones are bi-Xenons, and the inner ones are conventional halogens.

I was under the impression that bi-xenon by very definition meant low & high beam are both xenon headlamps. You state that the inner lights are conventional, so that would mean the high beams are not gas discharge, just the low beams.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Re: Comparing lighting systems: 'R' Bi-Xenons vs. BMW 3 Series (flybynight)

The high beams are in fact gas discharge on the outer headlamps, by virtue of the little eyelids that lift up. The inner lamps are only used in the flash to pass mode, and have no other function, unless they come into play when DRL's are programmed.
 

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Re: Comparing lighting systems: 'R' Bi-Xenons vs. BMW 3 Series (jelliotlevy)

Quote, originally posted by jelliotlevy »
The high beams are in fact gas discharge on the outer headlamps, by virtue of the little eyelids that lift up. The inner lamps are only used in the flash to pass mode, and have no other function, unless they come into play when DRL's are programmed.

Driving on curvy roads with the highbeams on is pretty neat since they point into the corners when you turn the wheel. They've done a nice job calibrating the amount of point versus the road speed...perfect in fact.

Oh, and yea, there's no comparison to the V70R's "highbeam" lights. Remember: http://bellsouthpwp.net/c/b/cbrans/page_8.htm


Modified by ChuckB at 8:35 PM 3-9-2006
 

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Re: Comparing lighting systems: 'R' Bi-Xenons vs. BMW 3 Series (jelliotlevy)

A bit OT - how would you compare the two cars? (Although you went from a Volvo GT to BMW manual, I'd still be interested.)
 

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Re: Comparing lighting systems: 'R' Bi-Xenons vs. BMW 3 Series (rqc)

Quote, originally posted by rqc »
A bit OT - how would you compare the two cars? (Although you went from a Volvo GT to BMW manual, I'd still be interested.)

I had both a 2004 V70R GT and a 2005 V70R 6MT (my wife's cars). She is very happy with the E90 330i 6MT and doesn't miss the R one bit. The driving dynamics between the two really can't be compared. The 330i sport package is an awesome balance of ride versus handling with very controlled yet supple response over nasty pavement. They've hit the nail right on the head with the E90 sport package imo, and I've been driving/modifying/racing BMWs since the 1970's. Comfort Access works great, and iDrive/Nav is very easy to use. Fortunately on the E90 all of the main controls you use all the time are there as always (as opposed to being buried in iDrive as on the E65 and E60).
 

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Re: Comparing lighting systems: 'R' Bi-Xenons vs. BMW 3 Series (jelliotlevy)

Well, that's what you get when you compare a projector based system as on the 330i with a reflector based system on the R. Projectors blow reflectors out of the water because beam pattern is easier to create and control. With the the projector for a high beam, all you have to do is take away the "flap" or cutoff to use the whole bowl of the projector. You can't do that with the reflector system.

Yes, Volvo's headlights are absolutely $hitty and they should be ashamed of themselves for allowing crap like this given their "safety" reputation. At least give us the EU counterpart which has a dedicated highbeam.

The S40s/V50s are projector based and I would assume their lighting is much better. The new S80 has projectors and I would assume that the new S60/V70s will have projectors.
 

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Re: Comparing lighting systems: 'R' Bi-Xenons vs. BMW 3 Series (mike_c70)

I find it amusing that there are so many complaints about the R's sharp cutoff with the bi-xenons, yet projectors like the BMW's produce an even sharper cut-off. A sharp cutoff that many people try to achieve using projector retrofitting.
 

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Re: Comparing lighting systems: 'R' Bi-Xenons vs. BMW 3 Series (autoduel)

Quote, originally posted by autoduel »
I find it amusing that there are so many complaints about the R's sharp cutoff with the bi-xenons, yet projectors like the BMW's produce an even sharper cut-off. A sharp cutoff that many people try to achieve using projector retrofitting.

No complaints here...been driving behind sharp cutoff low beams since the 1970's (Cibies) and love them.
 

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Re: Comparing lighting systems: 'R' Bi-Xenons vs. BMW 3 Series (autoduel)

Quote, originally posted by autoduel »
I find it amusing that there are so many complaints about the R's sharp cutoff with the bi-xenons, yet projectors like the BMW's produce an even sharper cut-off. A sharp cutoff that many people try to achieve using projector retrofitting.

I don't think it's the cutoff that people are complaining about. I actually prefer the sharper cutoff of the projectors. It's the $hitty high beams that everyone is bitching about (at least here in the US)
 

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Re: Comparing lighting systems: 'R' Bi-Xenons vs. BMW 3 Series (mike_c70)

Quote, originally posted by mike_c70 »


I don't think it's the cutoff that people are complaining about. I actually prefer the sharper cutoff of the projectors. It's the $hitty high beams that everyone is bitching about (at least here in the US)

Aim your headlights up. Makes a big difference. I adjusted mine up 1 full turn of the socket.
 

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Re: Comparing lighting systems: 'R' Bi-Xenons vs. BMW 3 Series (flybynight)

Quote, originally posted by flybynight »
Aim your headlights up. Makes a big difference. I adjusted mine up 1 full turn of the socket.

As I said, it's not the lowbeams, it's the highbeams.
 

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Re: Comparing lighting systems: 'R' Bi-Xenons vs. BMW 3 Series (mike_c70)

It will still help.
 

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Re: Comparing lighting systems: 'R' Bi-Xenons vs. BMW 3 Series (flybynight)

Quote, originally posted by flybynight »
It will still help.

Done it, my beam pattern is actually level, if not a small UPWARD angle. High beams still suck a$$.
 

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Re: Comparing lighting systems: 'R' Bi-Xenons vs. BMW 3 Series (mike_c70)

Sound like the headlights of the BMW a similar to the R's Euro headlights.
 

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Re: Comparing lighting systems: 'R' Bi-Xenons vs. BMW 3 Series (Johann)

What I don't get is why try to create a bi-xenon reflector instead of a bi-xenon projector system. The bi-xenon reflector is the hardest system to create and much less efficient than a projector setup.

I am planning on making that my next mod after the FMIC. I am planning on retrofitting a ECE bi-xenon projector in place of the reflector housing.

I have no problem with cutoffs at all. Yeah, it is harder to see signs if they are too high, but the beam width and depth are incredible.
 

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Re: Comparing lighting systems: 'R' Bi-Xenons vs. BMW 3 Series (jelliotlevy)

My wife's Beetle Convertible has terrific headlights as well -- bi-xenon HID's with the eyelid shutter. They really put Volvo's ill-conceived swivel reflector design to shame. How hard would it really have been for Volvo to install a projector system anyway?

One other comment -- don't assume that all projector beam HID systems are great -- I've not been impressed by Volvo's on the S4/V50, and Mazda uses a projector beam HID systenm on the Mazda3's and they are reputed to be pretty weak.

HID performance is clearly variable per carmaker -- Volvo = crummy, Saab = good, BMW & VW/Audi = excellent, Lexus = decent, Infiniti = decent.
 
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