The 2008 Saab 9-3 Headlamps

You might recall that the new Saab 9-3 has directional headlamps. I heard that and thought “cool, they turn around corners”. There’s a little more to it than that, though. Here’s a quick look. There’s a million more pictures I could post on this, but I think these ones will be sufficient to ‘enlighten you’ (he he he)

As first imagined, the lights do indeed turn based on the direction and speed of the car. If you’re rounding a bend, the outside headlamp (depending on which way the bend runs) will turn half as much as the inside one. So if you’re in a right-hander like in the image below, the right headlamp will turn as much as 15 degrees whilst the left headlamp will turn a maximum of 7.5 degrees. This widens the field of illumination and gets you through the bend a little clearer.

Saab headlamps

Not only do they turn left and right, they’ll go up and down as well. Not much new there. These will, however, adjust up and down automatically depending on your speed. If you’re doing more than 110 km/h the headlamps will rise a little to give you an increased field of illumination in front. They’ll dip back down again when you reach 100 km/h

Saab headlamps

Further to all that, if you’re travelling to a country where they drive on the wrong other side of the road, the lamps can be adjusted via your SID so that they won’t dazzle drivers on the other side of the road in your destination country.

Saab headlamps

So how does all this work? A bunch of computers and sensors control the whole shebang. These sensors read your car’s speed, gearing, and degree of turn. This is all processed and fed into the little motors that move the headlamps around. The simple diagram looks like the one below. The complex one involves I-Bus’ and P-Bus’ and really isn’t as descriptive.

Saab headlamps

Great technology, though if you’re like me you have a little voice in the back of your head saying “here’s another thing that might go wrong”.

You may also like


  1. There wouldn’t be much more hardware for this system.
    The car already has bi xenon’s with auto leveling
    Steering angle sensor-for ESP
    Wheel speed sensor-for ABS and other things
    The only extra bits would be motors to drive the lenses left and right,maybe an extra ECU to control the system,or extra software for the AHL system
    Quite simple really.

  2. Agree. This is something that is a true aid to the driver and also a safety thing. Live in Sweden during a winter and you know why… 🙂

    Also, all the basic infrastructure is already in place in the car for this kind of thing. Just use the info available and add some logic in the system.

  3. Having an ’06 Aero one of my biggest complaints with the “mono” xennon’s is not field of view side to side when I corner, it is the field of view vertically while driving through a valley/dip. The abrupt cut-off vertically, practically requires use of high beams in this situation. From what I see above, this issue will not be resolved.

    But alas, it would take some sort of complex forward aiming radar to determine if the downhill section of road is about to become uphill. I do not think I would like to pay for repairs to that system so I guess I will continue to keep the high-beam stalk in reach.

  4. So we complain about lack of feature parity with the other luxury makes, and when Saab makes stuff available to match features, we complain?

    I also share the issue of hills with GWC. It is very hilly whre I live with very narrow roads with no shloders and woods on both sides. The xeons om my MY06 9-3 SC are crisp and clear and make the car in front of you look like it has a $20,000 custom paint job, but the downhills are a bit scary with all the deer out here. Yes, I know slow down, but we’re already going 40mph.

  5. Oh my God, GM is letting Saab develop a new feature that might catch on (a la heated seats, headlamp cleaners, ventilated seats, active head restraints…)?? What is the world coming to?? Careful, we don’t want Saab to SUCCEED now do we?

  6. Directional headlamps were put into production by Citroen in 1968. Sometimes good ideas are just too far ahead of their time. Hopefully both SAAB and Citroen are 2 companies that will both regain their former glory.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *