4 x 4 Australia - - Contents -

ANY­ONE who owns a Land Rover De­fender, Jeep Wran­gler, Toy­ota 60 or 75 Se­ries, or any Pa­trol up to GQ would agree their stan­dard OEM halo­gen head­lights leave a lot to be de­sired. Even on high beam the yel­low can­dles in my Jeep had me lean­ing out the driver’s win­dow with an LED hand­held torch. But re­plac­ing the globes with bet­ter qual­ity units (or us­ing HID in­serts) sim­ply puts su­pe­rior globe tech­nol­ogy into a Ne­an­derthal-styled lens and re­flec­tor assem­bly, so that wasn’t an op­tion.

I wanted the best pos­si­ble light for night driv­ing, with great per­for­mance, re­li­a­bil­ity, a qual­ity build and no gim­micky ac­ces­sories. Af­ter much re­search I set­tled on a good ol’ USA brand to adorn my Amer­i­can icon, JW Speaker. The com­pany is highly re­spected in the USA for build­ing ex­cep­tion­ally good qual­ity LED lights and, thank­fully, JW Speaker has de­signed a suit­able RHD LED up­grade re­place­ment that meets the reg­u­la­tory Aus­tralian De­sign Rules (ADR) re­quire­ments.

The light can­nons aren’t just for De­fend­ers, Wran­glers, Toy­otas and Nis­sans, ei­ther; the JW Speaker 8700 Evo­lu­tion J2s will give sparkling new eyes to any ve­hi­cle in ex­is­tence that runs a seven-inch round head­light. The 8700 J2s got the nod as Wran­glers are no­to­ri­ous for LED light con­ver­sions hav­ing a flick­er­ing prob­lem, of­ten re­quir­ing an ad­di­tional har­ness with a ded­i­cated con­trol unit to al­le­vi­ate this an­noy­ing prob­lem. Not so with the 8700 J2s, as the R&D team took the time to build ev­ery­thing right into the light. Bet­ter yet, the unit’s main wiring har­ness is mostly plug-and-play, mean­ing there’s no con­ver­sion har­ness to plug into the fac­tory head­light har­ness. The other rea­son was its de­sign con­struc­tion. JW Speaker use a pro­jec­tor rather than a re­flec­tive lens, which al­lows a very smooth spread of light across the road, with a de­fined cut-off edge to avoid blind­ing on­com­ing driv­ers – a real plus if you’re run­ning a lifted four­bie.

When choos­ing lights, don’t be fooled into be­liev­ing huge out­put fig­ures are the best way to judge ef­fi­ciency or per­for­mance. Sure, a higher num­ber will mean an im­prove­ment in the light in­ten­sity, but it’s how well the de­sign op­ti­mises that out­put and trans­lates it into us­able dis­tri­bu­tion and spread that im­proves for­ward and pe­riph­eral driver vis­i­bil­ity.

The 8700 J2s pro­duce 750 ef­fec­tive lu­mens for low-beam and 1260 for high­beam. This is not to be con­fused with raw lu­mens, which is more than twice as much. While not ex­plo­sive, this is where the 8700 Evo­lu­tion’s lens de­sign is at the fore­front of the game. Ex­clud­ing the cool-look­ing Day­time Run­ning Light (DRL), the light assem­bly has a sep­a­rate lens ded­i­cated for low- and high-beam di­rec­tional fo­cus, as well as a set of D lenses on each side which pro­vide ex­cep­tional pe­riph­eral light­ing.

These things aren’t cheap at a RRP of $550 each, but when you scru­ti­nise the at­ten­tion to de­tail, de­sign and fea­tures you can see con­struc­tion is first class and there’s a re­as­sur­ing ro­bust­ness. They

are mounted into a solid heavy-duty diecast hous­ing with cool­ing fins to keep tem­per­a­tures in check, and there’s a clear, un­ob­structed poly­car­bon­ate lens de­signed to take the knocks from off-road driv­ing.

Solid-state elec­tronic in­ter­nals mean lit­tle chance of a light shak­ing it­self apart over cor­ru­ga­tions, and the wiring har­ness is resin-sealed to the main body, giv­ing them an IP67 rat­ing, which means they are pro­tected from dust and ca­pa­ble of with­stand­ing a de­cent dunk in wa­ter.

These lit­tle sparklers also look great. The dark lens and black fas­cia gives the Wran­gler hooded eyes, with in­tim­i­dat­ing fu­tur­is­tic holo­graphic pro­jec­tor styling.

On our first drive, the JW 8700 Evo­lu­tion J2s were noth­ing short of stu­pen­dous. The vis­i­bil­ity on low-beam is as­ton­ish­ing, with bril­liant pe­riph­eral light­ing and clean, crisp il­lu­mi­na­tion of the road. What was also im­pres­sive was the depth of il­lu­mi­na­tion, while that clean cut-off point didn’t al­low stray light to bleed into the eyes of on­com­ing driv­ers.

Hit the high-beam and the dual-burn op­er­a­tion com­bines both the spread of the low-beam lens and the im­pres­sive punch of the ded­i­cated high-beam lens, to reach deep and wide into the dark­ness ahead.

These lights are costly, but con­sider what can be spent on good qual­ity driv­ing lights and LED bars. What be­comes the bet­ter in­vest­ment: high-qual­ity head­lights of­fer­ing su­perb il­lu­mi­na­tion, or ex­treme-pow­ered driv­ing lights for oc­ca­sional use (and which con­tinue to suf­fer the medi­ocre per­for­mance of OEM head­lights ev­ery­where you drive)? For those on a bud­get, it should be a no-brainer. Plus, you can al­ways add driv­ing lights later.

If your 4x4 is still run­ning old-styled halo­gens and you want to lift those an­ti­quated, tired lights to the next level, there’s a whole new world out there you’ve prob­a­bly never seen be­fore.

AVAIL­ABLE FROM: www.jwspeaker.com/ deal­ers RRP: $550 each WE SAY: Exxy, but you get what you pay for.

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