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4WD MODIFICATIONS - ELECTRIC & LIGHTS

NARVA ULTIMA LED 180 AND 215 MK2 DRIVING LIGHTS
These are Narva's improved super-bright LED lights.

 

Narva has given the already excellent Ultima LED 180 and 215 models an upgrade, with 2021 improvements in brightness and distance. There’s also a Black Edition colour package available.

 

The latest Ultimas are claimed to produce 30-percent more light than the previous LED models, while retaining the same amount of beam spread. Both models have 20-percent increased beam distance: 812 metres for a pair of 180s and 1093 metres for the 215s. Those measurements are made at the European Standard ‘one-lux’ level, not the ‘quarter-lux’ that some light makers use, to claim longer beams.

Improved colour rendering index and 5700 Kelvin colour temperature are said to produce a more natural light quality and that’s what our test of the Mk2 215 pair showed.

The new lights preserve their predecessors’ pressure-cast, finned housings and pressure-cast mounting yokes. Also the same is the wattage – 120W for the 180s and 165W for the 215s – but have the latest Osram 5W LEDs and the 215’s Active Thermal Management System (ATMS) is said to regulate heat buildup when the light is powered up for long periods.

Interestingly, each 215 weighs 3.2kg – almost double the 1.75kg weight of the 180 – so it’s easy to see that there’s additional heat-sink hardware inside the 215 housing.

The former, proved Ultima construction is retained, with pressure-cast housings and yoke mounts. Also retained are the three-bolt mounting design; GoreTex breather; polyurethane mounting to housing connection; tool-free vertical beam adjustment; IP66 and IP67 water and dust resistance and multi-colour ring inserts for individual choice.

 

 

Our test lights were Black Edition Ultima 215s that we found very easy to mount and connect.  We like the design of the connector being flush with the back of the light housing, because if there’s any damage to the wiring, it’s simple to buy and splice in a new connector.

We did the test on our selected combination of bitumen and gravel roads and found the new lights a definite improvement over the already very good original Ultimas. Although the camera doesn’t show it in the same way the human eye does, the changed colour quality characteristics resulted in more natural light, with less ‘LED whiteness’.

To check the 215 Mk2 beam-distance claim of over one kilometre we set the pair to produce a centre ‘hot’ spot beam and the improvement in distance beam was noticeable. We reckon there’s really no need for additional beam length, even for drivers doing highway-speed trips over long distances. In those lower-speed situations, where absolute one-kilometre centre-spot distance isn’t necessary, the Ultimas can be angled out, to produce a wider beam.

Check out our video and compare it with the previous Ultima test we did.

 

 

Previous generation

The Ultima LED 180 and 215 driving lights were a long time coming, but our testing reveals that the wait was worth it.

 With 165-watt input the 215s were among the brightest pure-LED lights we’ve tested and with a claimed 900-metre range at one lux a pair produced plenty of distance and spread beam. The only downside was that you need a heavy-duty wiring harness, with a 40-amp relay to feed in the necessary 30 amps of current they required.

The smaller-diameter 180s had about the same spread, but shorter claimed distance, at 600 metres.

Both Ultima LED models had pressure-die-cast aluminium housings with integrated heat-sink fins and polycarbonate lenses. The housings were sealed to IP66 and IP67 standards against dust and water ingress, with a Nitto breather and a sealed DT electrical connector.

The mounting design was new for Narva, with a cast yoke and foot, and three-bolt attachment layout. Vertical adjustment was tool-free, using a stainless cross-shaft and knurled knob. The range of movement made the Ultima LEDs suitable for bar or roof mounting.

The housing and mount were satin-black powder-coated and, in recognition of the fact the driving lights had to look flash as well as perform well, the front bezel could be had in satin stainless (standard), bright chrome or gloss black (both optional). In addition, the inner trim ring can be blue (standard), yellow or red.

This video showed the 180 pair on our test circuit:

Our videos show the brightness of the Ultima LEDs and bush testing the 215s for durability took in the Gibb River Road, the Canning and the Gary Junction Road.

They proved their worth especially well one evening, when we were headed into the twilight and needed illumination of the corrugations and ruts on the Gibb River Road. The spread lighting showed up the road surface perfectly, in conditions where our headlights were useless.

The Ultimas came with interchangeable dress rings, but we wanted orange to match our 75’s colour scheme. So, the solution was simple: a tin of orange enamel, a small brush and … orange dress rings. Looks pretty cool, eh?

We continued our durability testing of the 180 and 215 pairs during 2019/20.

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