39,000 miles, 2nd October 2005
I have to say that I think the Auto Lights feature on the Mk V is very clever and increases safety. There's obviously some clever and well tested software behind it. When you get used to it you can quite easily leave the light switch in the Auto position for the majority of the time.
I have always been a big fan of using headlights to increase the visibily of my car to other road users. I find that the Auto Lights feature on the Mk V pretty much mimics my own thoughts about when and when not to use headlights about 90% of the time. They appear to turn on at the same light level as I would normally turn on my headlights. The only situation where they sometimes don't come on when I would prefer them to is in conditions of poor visibility such as light rain, heavy spray and fog. This limitation however is mentioned in the handbook.
I do choose to override the Auto Lights feature when driving at dusk because there is a tendancy for the lights to continually switch on and off. When I notice that the lights have been turned on automatically in this situation I usually turn the light switch from Auto to on to keep them on, only switching back to Auto when it is obviously dark enough that the lights stay on permanently.
What I really like about the Auto lights feature is that they automatically increase my vehicle's visibility to other road users in situations where it would not feasibly be possible in a car without it. The most obvious is when travelling through tunnels and under large bridges. For the few seconds when light levels suddenly fall, my car's visibility to other road users is automatically enhanced.
Another less obvious situation where the Auto Lights increases my car's visibility is when travelling when the sun is low in the sky. The long shadows cast by the sun trigger the auto lights and the absence of unbroken spells of sunshine result in them staying on even though it may well be far from dark. Some people have commented that this is a fault but I believe it is intended functionality. Whilst the sun is low, there are large contrasts in light levels on the road. When the sun is behind you, your vehicle is much less obvious to drivers ahead looking in their mirrors. The use of headlights in this situation helps increase your visibility.
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