LIGHT­ING UP MY LIFE

Narva re­cently launched its Ul­tima 215 LED driv­ing lights with a fo­cus on trans­port as well as re­cre­ation. Matt Wood puts a pair to the test

Owner Driver - - Owner / Driver -

RE­CENTLY, OWNER//DRIVER manag­ing editor Greg Bush and I found our­selves con­tem­plat­ing a cou­ple of boxes sit­ting on his desk. In­side them were a pair of new Narva Ul­tima 215 LED driv­ing lights. It was clear that we were go­ing to need to hook them up to some­thing to try them out.

We could’ve en­gi­neered a way of in­stalling them on Bushy’s wife’s Hyundai Getz, but I reck­oned that adding nearly six ki­los of driv­ing lights to the front bumper may have had a detri­men­tal ef­fect on driv­ing dy­nam­ics. Would’ve looked cool though!

I don’t have a spare prime mover ly­ing around, how­ever I do have ac­cess to an old Land Rover which turned out to be the best op­tion for see­ing just how much these ba­bies light up the night. Given the ap­palling per­for­mance of the stock head­lights on the Landy, the old girl needs all the help it can get in the light­ing de­part­ment.

TRANS­PORT FO­CUS

Narva is tout­ing these lights as be­ing just the ticket for four-by and trans­port ap­pli­ca­tions. Fun­nily enough, four-by own­ers everywhere these days seem pretty keen to cover the front of their ve­hi­cles with mul­ti­ple lights and light bars. Which does kind of make me won­der just how much off-road­ing these peo­ple ac­tu­ally do at night?

Truck­ing how­ever re­quires bet­ter than av­er­age light­ing. Be­tween Aus­tralia’s kamikaze wildlife and the some­what ques­tion­able state some of our road net­work, hav­ing a day­light view down the road in the wee hours of the morn­ing is in­valu­able.

The In­ter­web is packed with cheap LED light bar and driv­ing light op­tions. And, for the most part, if

you’re just want­ing to make your 4x4 look a bit more ma­cho or you like blind­ing er­rant mo­torists when re­quired, then these cheap­ies may suf­fice. But if you ac­tu­ally use them for their in­tended pur­pose, then qual­ity lights re­ally are worth the ex­tra dosh.

While the amount of light cre­ated and the spread of the beam is im­por­tant, dura­bil­ity is the big­gest ad­van­tage of go­ing for a pre­mium light. High-pow­ered spot­ties cre­ate a lot of heat, es­pe­cially when they’re on for ex­tended pe­ri­ods of time; qual­ity lights tend to evac­u­ate heat bet­ter than the cheap­ies.

DURABLE HOUS­ING

The other thing to take into ac­count is the dura­bil­ity of the hous­ings and mount­ing brack­ets. Driv­ing lights cop a pound­ing on rough roads and are con­stantly out in the el­e­ments, you need some­thing that is not only go­ing to stay bolted to your bull­bar but is also go­ing to cope with a con­stant bar­rage of heat, dust, rain, spray, and maybe even the oc­ca­sional dose of kan­ga­roo guts.

Which brings me to the Narva Ul­tima 215s. They’re a pretty hefty light; each one weighs in at 2.8kg. They mea­sure 215mm in di­am­e­ter (I know, it’s ob­vi­ous from the name) and need 235mm of ver­ti­cal space to be mounted. Given their size, they are pretty shal­low space wise with a depth of 112mm.

The hous­ings are made from diecast alu­minium and the mounts are stain­less steel with three mount­ing bolt holes. The light hous­ing also fea­tures a Nitto breather vent in the back, which pre­vents dust and wa­ter get­ting in­side the light while still al­low­ing it to vent.

LOOM­ING LU­MENS

Narva claims that a pair of 215s put out one LUX of light at a dis­tance of 900 me­tres. Each light uses 33 sep­a­rate 5-Watt LEDs to cre­ate 10,500 lu­mens.

The hy­brid beam pat­tern is meant to pro­vide a good us­able bal­ance be­tween spread and dis­tance, which makes them a pretty good op­tion for a prime mover as you get the per­for­mance with­out hav­ing to have mul­ti­ple light sources.

The LEDs are cov­ered by a fiveyear war­ranty.

I tend to be a bit of a butcher when it comes to wiring, so I elected to get the guys at the TJM Hen­dra store in Bris­bane to in­stall the wiring loom prop­erly. Young Ash, the res­i­dent sparky, waded through all the manky Land Rover wiring to in­stall the ‘Ex­treme Duty’ plug-and-play wiring har­ness and re­lays. I might also add that he man­aged to do it with a lot less swear­ing than I would have. And un­like my last at­tempt, noth­ing caught fire.

A bit of weld­ing was needed to get some mount­ing tabs on the bull­bar as the light size meant that the lights wouldn’t fit be­tween the cross­bars of the bull­bar. Ad­just­ing the an­gle of the lights is pretty easy. It’s sim­ply a mat­ter of loos­en­ing the pivot mount han­dle and tight­en­ing again, no muck­ing about with span­ners or screw­drivers.

A clip-on pro­tec­tor keeps the lens safe from fly­ing rocks and sand blast­ing.

The 215s also have a run­ning light fea­ture that il­lu­mi­nates when the park lights are switched on, which is a nice, lit­tle safety bonus.

OFF-ROAD CRED­I­BIL­ITY

Once the lights were in­stalled, I have to ad­mit they cer­tainly looked the part. My off-road cred­i­bil­ity soared; I just needed a big beard, a book of road kill recipes and a bush hat to top off the look.

As you’d ex­pect, once out in the bush they work ex­cep­tion­ally well. I don’t have a tape mea­sure long enough to tell you if the range es­ti­mates are ac­cu­rate, but a cou­ple of sets of these on the front of a prime mover should be more than enough to pick out any po­ten­tial haz­ards lurk­ing in the dark­ness. The light qual­ity and clar­ity is ex­cep­tional.

How­ever, while per­for­mance is im­por­tant, it’s the build qual­ity and po­ten­tial dura­bil­ity that caught my eye. These things are very well-made. The Landy uses an Isuzu 4BD1 en­gine to haul it­self around, which ad­mit­tedly is a tough old donk and it will no doubt run for­ever.

The down­side of the 4BD1 is that it thrashes about in the en­gine bay try­ing to eat its own en­gine mounts. The rub­ber sus­pen­sion mount­ing sys­tem of the Narva 215s does an awe­some job of soak­ing up any vi­bra­tions. The beam stays rock steady, even if my teeth were rat­tling.

Im­pres­sions are that these lights are a pretty tough item. Per­for­mance is also im­pres­sive, how­ever the stand­out with these lights re­ally re­volves around build qual­ity. As for dura­bil­ity, if any­thing was go­ing to break them, that old Landy will!

“… if any­thing was go­ing to break them, that old Landy will!”

Narva’s new Ul­tima LED 215 driv­ing lights look the goods for trans­port ap­pli­ca­tions

These are big lights, so a lit­tle weld­ing was re­quired to fit some mount­ing tabs

Ash, TJM Hen­dra’s res­i­dent sparkie delves deep into the dark realms of Land Rover wiring

Clearly the Land Rover head­lights are crap, but the 215s make a dif­fer­ence for high-beam work. Build qual­ity is what stands out the most

A ‘light pipe’ acts as a run­ning light when the ve­hi­cle park lights or low beams are on. The light bar be­low the lights is from Narva’s Big Red bud­get range

Okay, so it’s not the Strz­elecki Track, but I’m sure you get the idea. It’s a hy­brid ap­proach to pro­vide both depth and width to the beam

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