One of my favourite things on the Saab was a thing called “Night Panel“. It was a simple button, but turned off all the instrument illumination except for the speedometer. Even the speedometer range was reduced – I think it just illuminated 0-80mph, although it activated the full dial if you went past 80. All the other dials went to black, and the needles to zero. (Which was weird to see in daylight, but made sense at night, because if it’s not lit, why would you need the needles to be indicating anything?) If anything goes wrong, the night mode is cancelled, and everything revives to display the problem – low fuel, high temperature, warning lights, whatever.
That sounds pretty basic, and not a lot of use – which was kind of true. But it was great if you were doing a long drive at night, and I found that it significantly reduced eye strain and so on. Originally it was just a gimmicky thing, but I found I used it more than I expected to.
Until recently, I’d only seen it on the Saab, and couldn’t understand why other manufacturers don’t have the same thing. (I feel the same about the little plastic clip at the side of the windscreen that could be used to hold parking tickets and so on)
This week, though, I’ve had to use two different Hyundai cars, and they’ve both had little Night Mode buttons. Not as comprehensive as the Saab one, it still turns off the majority of the in-car dashboard illumination, and makes for a nicer night-time driving environment.
And again, I wonder why other manufacturers (or at least those whose cars I’ve driven) don’t do similar things.