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Review: Hella 470 light bars on my Kia Seltos

It might not be clear from this picture, but the centre focus thanks to the light bar improves drastically.

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Hello All,

As a part of the ongoing Mod journey on my Seltos, one long pending one was improving on the OE light set up.

Why a Light Bar?

While I love the Seltos and all that it offers, the biggest bug bear I have had with it is the abysmally poor and I do mean abysmal - when I say abysmal lighting set up.

This is not even something subjective, the American Kia Seltos scored top marks in all safety parameters in the IIHS ratings, but its LED lights scored a Poor and cost it a perfect score.

The study at length if you are interested.

Mission Statement

Improve highway lighting capabilities without resorting a full change of the Headlamp unit.

Note - The top end has a sealed unit and no in place upgrades are possible. Lower variants can go the usual bi xenon or other upgrade process. Touching the unit would mean voiding the electrical warranty entirely (this was confirmed to me by the SA in my service centre)

This rules out entirely any other option but light bars, and my search on the TBHP forums lead to the Hella series. The Hella 350 and the much improved (over the 350), the Hella 470.

Hella 350 vs 470

They are essentially the same, with the exact same form factor, except the 350 has 12 LED bulbs and the 470 has 16. This gives you a better output.

The 350 weights 790 gm consumes 25 W of power, the 470 weights 970 gm and consumes 35 W of power.

There are 2 versions of this unit. The pencil beam (focussed beam) and the driving / highway beam - they are different bars, and both aren't available in the same package.

I had a very long conversation with the Hella distributor in Chennai, Ashwin (can provide number if you need it, just DM me), over 30 minutes he explained to me the intricacies of these systems.

The 350 is much cheaper, at Rs 15,000 (just for the light) and the 470 comes in at Rs 25,000.

My original thought was to go in for the 350, but he told me that the Luminous flux are very different, though it is nominally only 4 bulbs extra.

The 470 has a Luminous Flux of 1,900 Lm, the 350 is at 1,500 Lm (this is only for the driving / highway option).

I also wanted the pencil beam and he advised me against it as his logic was the highway mode is not highly centred and has clean coverage till about 100 meters, and also gives better visibility on signages etc. The pencil beam is much more focused and there is no intermediate coverage.

He was the expert, he made very clean objective arguments and left it to me the customer, to go for it. I chose the 470.

Installation

Went to AutoDrome Chennai (Gp Road), Ashwin also had worked with them and said they were good. It was a no fuss instal - though here I had to leave the car with them as I had meetings at work, and it took 3 hours to fashion a bracket and fix it up.

The Effects

This is the Stock High Beam on a typical highway with reflectors, cat eyes etc.

The problem with stock is that at the centre it starts to fade, and this problem is amplified when you are driving at about 80 km/h+, means you have very limited visual cues to work on and this translates into dumping the car into potholes fairly easily.

This is the Stock HB + Hella:

It might not be clear from this picture, but the centre focus thanks to the light bar improves drastically. I would personally put this at a good 60-70% better visibility at higher speeds (I did 100-120 km/h, and never had a problem with the vision)

For context, here is the Hella alone:

I had switched off the fogs, but as you can see in the near to medium length, the bar alone is as powerful and gives better vision than stocks on High Beam.

Pros

  • Improves Night Vision at high speeds (of 80 km/h+)
  • Helps you navigate and avoid potholes in a timely manner
  • Looks good? lol
  • A specific cover in yellow changes the colour temperature of the bar, and driving in pitched rain is easier (though the range of the light significantly drops, it is a trade-off - long range vs better visibility in the short range - but then again in pitched rains you should not speed, so easy trade off to make)

Cons

  • Costs - Total cost including brackets, accessories + the labour is Rs 35,000.
  • Glare - Yes, this is a big problem. If you have vehicles ahead of you up close (let's say a Jam on the highway or slow moving traffic), you are liable to get a headache from the glare. On my last highway trip, I simply switched it off if traffic was slow moving. Anyway below 60 km/h even the otherwise useless stocks do a decent job.
  • Problems with cops - Especially in Kerala and Karnataka, but it is fairly unobtrusive and should not catch the eye of the friendly neighbour signal cop.

Finally, would I recommend it?

If you drive in highways or even in semi urban conditions but in heavy rains, yes, I strongly recommend it. I had given up night or early morning drives in the Seltos just because the lights are that bad, but on my last Bangalore - Chennai run, I had the confidence to cruise at 110 km/h with these lights on, while previously, the few night drives I had were restricted to 75-80 km/h.

Check out BHPian comments for more insights and information.

 
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