Is anyone here scared of Night Panel?

The reason I ask the question in the title to this post is that I’ve seen two articles in the last few days that refer to situations where the author was supposedly called to panic by the use of Night Panel (or Black Panel as it’s referred to in one article).

The first one is on TTAC, by demon driver, Jack Baruth:

This was also the era of the ridiculous “Born From Jets” advertising. To provide that advertising with the barest connection to reality, Saab equipped the 9-3 with the “Black Panel”. The Black Panel was an enormous button that, when pressed at night, cut the illumination to every gauge except the speedometer. The idea was that only critical information would be communicated to the pilot, I mean, driver. If one of the gauges reached a “critical area”, it would light up. Supposedly this was the way LearJets worked. The way it worked in practice:

  • Explain “Black Panel” to passenger;
  • Press Black Panel button;
  • Observe the non-impressed countenance of passenger;
  • Drive for a while in Black Panel;
  • Shriek like little girl when the fuel gauge falls below a quarter-tank and lights up out of nowhere in CRITICAL MODE;
  • Never press Black Panel button again.

And the second one comes from none other than Jeremy Clarkson himself, writing about the Saab 9-3 TTiD in the Sunday Times last weekend:

Oh, Saab is still banging on about the aircraft connection. It fits a button that turns off all the dashboard lights at night, so you can feel like a night fighter pilot. But you don’t really. You just feel as if you might be running out of petrol.

My thanks to Dave R for the transcript of that one.

Returning to the point, however…… Have any of you ever felt this worried with Night Panel on? Are people that unaware of their fuel situation before taking off on a trip where Night Panel might come into play?

I have to admit that it’s been quite a while since I’ve used Night Panel. I tend to use it mostly for longer trips only, and I don’t do many long trips at night any more (I’m usually too busy writing up this stuff). But when I have used it I’ve never been in a situation when I wasn’t aware of the conditions I was driving in (i.e. fuel, etc).

I could understand if you were at the 500km mark of a long trip in the middle of nowhere, but in that situation I’d be keeping an eye on my fuel all the time.

Is it just me, or did these two play up the fear factor for dramatic effect?

Notify of
Jim
Guest
Jim

Using Night Panel requires using something called a Brain, in order to make long-range planning decisions about fuel.

ivo 71
Guest
ivo 71

My 9000 doesn’t have it. When driving long distances at night, I just turn down the dash illumination if I feel that the glare is distractive. So I guess I would use it if the car had it. On the other hand, having owned and driven over 40 car types without NP, I cannot honestly say I really missed a feature like that over the years. But it certainly doesn’t scare me. And if you want to know how much fuel you have left, just turn it off and on again. Or have a peek at your trip computer. These… Read more »

ARUK
Guest
ARUK

Oh, the 9000 definitely has this useful feature!

It was the first road-going Saab to have it. Simultaneously and briefly depress the “R” and “Info” buttons under the clock (digital or analogue) to extinguish the SID panel…

ivo 71
Guest
ivo 71

Okay, one learns something every day. And how do you switch it on again?

Ivo

ARUK
Guest
ARUK

Ah, to switch it on again there are two methods that I am aware of: pressing the “Info” button or restarting the car. I’ve yet to discover if there is an intelligent mode that reinstates SID (SCC/EDU) upon reaching certain parameters. I am inclined to think there is –not least because the owner’s manual hints at it: “The display will come on again if either of these buttons is depressed, if the ignition is switched on/off or if one of the check<Char Endash”. I think the incomplete sentence refers to the “CHECK ENGINE” and “CHECK RADIATOR LEVEL” warnings. It may… Read more »

Jim
Guest
Jim

Another thing, in-car entertainment is only getting MORE distracting. When you need visibility, these new cars are getting less safe with their brighter displays. Saab also fits very good headlamps and brights. Reliably. Try other cars, and realize what crap lighting many of them have. This also goes for windshield washers, something crucial where I live. Simple engineering, yet most carmakers fail here.

Jerry
Guest
Jerry

I drive my TurboX stick SC to work into New York City from suburban Connecticut, 40 miles one way. I use the Merritt Parkway, which has not lights, it is pitch dark at night. When I drive back home in the dark, I always use the Night Panel, the job it does reducing distraction is unbelievable! The fuel gauge turns on when there are still a few gallons in the tank, so no worries!

SAABoy
Guest
SAABoy

I’ve gone on long road trips in my c900, 9000, and dads 9-5. Of course 9000 and 9-5 were the smoother cruisers, but I really enjoy the night panel in the 9-5. I came back from a weekend of approx 1000 miles of driving in the 9000 and wished I had night panel… I’ve never had any problem with surprise fuel shortage…

S
Guest
S

I use the night panel on longer trips, it’s super. Together with the green illumination it keeps me alert as a driver.

Sappy
Guest
Sappy

At night, on a road with no lights in my 9-3 Convertible driving with Night Panel is ethereal.

A superb feature.

Dan
Guest

I use Night Panel all the time.

This piece was clearly written as a weak attempt to humor people that are otherwise unfamiliar with Saab. “Oh look at those silly Saab drivers they think they’re so cool!”

74stingray
Guest
74stingray

but the fact is… we ARE so cool…..

Danni
Guest
Danni

I don’t know what these people rammed down their throats: I have used the Night pannel for more then 10 years with no ill effect. In fact, I think I have driven longer distances non-stop then the average motorist anywhere anytime: how does 2,000km sound from Windhoek to Johannesburg and the greater part at night? Yes, the green ambient lighting and all instruments blanked off bar the speedo really does help.

Jonas
Guest

I use it every day on my way to work, on my way home and every time i drive in the dark. And if i want to take a look att something i just push a button on the dash or turn the nightpanel of. It’s as simple as that. It’s one of the top ten features of the car.

saim
Guest
saim

NightPanel is very helpful, I use it very often, no problem at all!!

hashoo
Guest

Nooo… i love it !!!

Ted Y
Guest

I don’t use it often, but I do love it when visibility is poor at night. The reduced glare really helps see the road better. You can go a LONG way after the gauge illuminates, no need for panic. I hate when people make stupid smarta$$ remarks just to sound cool.

Chris
Guest
Chris

Although I have never used it so far, it doesn’t bother me being there.

RMinNJ
Guest
RMinNJ

Do I normally use the panel…no. But one dark morning with bad weather the dash glow (which I always have set to the dimmest setting) was quite distracting. Hitting the night panel button it really helped me see and pay attention to the conditions. A little “god bless the Saab Engineers” moment.

Steven
Guest
Steven

I use my Night Panel button every evening on my commute home. I even have my speedo set to only illuminate from 0-90mph. But then again, for YEARS I have turned the gauge illumination down every non-SAAB I’ve owned beginning with my 1975 Datsun 710. I really like not having all that light in my eyes at night. I know people who are deathly scared of cruise control, but that available from almost every car maker.

Mikael Ehnebom
Guest
Mikael Ehnebom

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aCK55wht8BQ&feature=player_embedded

Here’s the brand new TV commercial made for the American market, telling the fast moving story of Saab. Enjoy the ride!

Red J
Guest

Didn’t we talk yesterday about this ad???? 😉

kikaluka
Guest
kikaluka

Love night panel. Nice extra would be a light sensor which turns np on/off, depending on light outside.

Henrik S
Guest
Henrik S

I use it a lot. I really miss this function when I have to drive a Volvo or Toyota at work.
Once you have started to use it, you just can´t live without it.
I was a bit afraid that the new 9-5 would not have this function since it has never been given that much credit from the press that it should have. But thank´s a lot Saab for keeping it.

SaabAero
Guest
SaabAero

It light backs up when its low.. a driver should know how much fuel he has in a tank..
and its an option.. you choose to use it or not.. so not a issue at all.

Nick Charles
Guest
Nick Charles

I’ve sold Saabs in the southeastern US for more than 8 years. I’ve NEVER had a customer belittle the Night Panel or say it was an extraneous feature. I CAN say several customers over the years have used it in rural areas of my state and told me it was a very useful feature. The TTAC writer likes to see his name on the screen. He probably drives a Trabant and loves it.

Mats
Guest
Mats

Scared? No.
Annoyed? Yes.
Great idea and useful if implemented correctly, I liked it in the OG9-3 but they failed the implementation on the SS (MY04). Why only shut down the main instrument panel? Why not also shut down backlights to every button? I would like it if the radio, AC panel and door buttons would also be switched off and activated temporarily by pressing any key on the specific cluster. The clock temporarily activates by the press of a button, but I would like the option to have the clock constantly illuminated.

Kowalski
Guest
Kowalski

Scared!? Pelase… I love Clarkson. I’ve read many books of him. And he just needs to pick up on something that do a funny and enjoyable reading. I guess that the night panel was just in front of him 🙂 I like to have that option. I really don´t use it often because I like, such as other users, to be in “charge” and know what is happen. Maybe I drive too fast, maybe I’m a control freak. Some days ago I did a road trip where I didn’t have to shift from 6th gear for 200 km, so I… Read more »

Troels, Denmark
Guest

You don’t need to love Jackson. He manages that all right himself.. 😉

Troels, Denmark
Guest

Sorry, Clarkson I meant… – getting tired.

Kowalski
Guest
Kowalski

LOL. So true!

Sandy
Guest
Sandy

Night Panel / Black Panel is GREAT!!!
Long drives on deserted roads in the dark is much more relaxing with it active.
I really like it!

Pierre
Guest

Night panel has only induced fright in customers I’ve spoken to when they’ve engaged it accidentally during the day, thus not realizing that Night Panel is in play, and watch as most of their gauges drop to the bottom. That’s when the panicked phone call ensues. After an explanation, they feel a bit silly, and plenty relieved.

SAAB_andee
Guest
SAAB_andee

When do you use a “night”panel…..
I love the night panel. It´s ideal to use in winter time or night to focus on driving after long working days. real saab quirkiness 🙂

Erek
Guest
Erek

Night panel is fine by me, I use it often to cut the stress on my eyes. People who write things like that maybe should not be driving cars at all. Why would the admit their total lack of ability (or that they shriek like a girl when a light comes on)? Really, they aren’t worth any attention. I do think the jet connection is a little tired and that the BFJ campaign was the worst (although, “state of independence” campaign wins the irony award). I love the jets (JAS39 wallpaper on my netbook right now). Talking about the jet… Read more »

Mark
Guest
Mark

Used Night Panel at the weekend on a 80 mile journey. When you’re just cruising and want to concentrate on the road it’s great. When you want to throw the car about and see the gauges dance about, turn it back on.

turbin
Guest
turbin

Clarkson loves SAAB, really!

gen jackson
Guest
gen jackson

i use it daily on my og9-5sc 2008 very nice feature helps u stay focused on the road and if there is a malfunction or gas is low that particular gauge lights up
it is so saabish please keep it

Mark Orr
Guest
Mark Orr

Night panel is useful in non urban areas, in the city it makes less of a difference. On a long drive on unlighted roads, you really notice it.

Jeff
Guest
Jeff

Night panel is just one of those quirky Saab things I can’t live without. Speaking of quirky and Swedish, this is totally off topic and I don’t normally do it, but I just rediscovered this long lost clip that I forgot about that I wanted to share. Thought a few of you might get a kick out of it. Points out so many reasons I love Sweden:

http://www.thedailyshow.com/watch/tue-april-21-2009/the-stockholm-syndrome-pt–1

http://www.thedailyshow.com/watch/wed-april-22-2009/the-stockholm-syndrome-pt–2

saabowner
Guest
saabowner

I like the night panel on my car. Sometimes, I just don’t understand what people are complaining about. I don’t use it that often. But I like it on really dark roads. It really helps to cut down the glare.

wilfried
Guest
wilfried

No need to panic. Still some 70 – 100 km to drive, pendiing on the driving style. And still the possibility to turn the night panel back in full illmuniation. By hand. Imho all panic-ing drivers already worrying about a simple interior switch should hand in their driving license immediately. How do they react when a real panic situation might occur? Oh help, I hope I’ll never cross their road at that particular moment. Do they prefer a warning light that warns them about another warning light that might go on a couple of minutes later ? They better take… Read more »

Rune
Guest
Rune

My 9-5 is still in purgatory, but I’m pretty sure its satnav switched on at intersections and similar… (I mostly watched the HUD)

Coxy900
Guest
Coxy900

We had a c900 for years but got a ng900 just before child#1 was born. It was summer and the first chance I got to use it was on the way to the hospital when my wife went into labour in the late evening. I considered trying out the black panel for the first time but I didn’t think she’d appreciate it!

Got to try it out later on the way home when I was a dad.

Mart L
Guest
Mart L

Can’t follow the issues raised. Maybe (but just maybe) the “aeronautical heritage” allusions in marketing tend to be slightly strenuous at times – the inspration and ideas are not. Also Saab is not the only one – BMW, Mitsubishi, Subaru are others having roots in aircraft building. WIthout making the allusions. Whatever. Keep up the focus to get to par with the bavarian market leaders A & B – Saab’s very close now. And keep adding features that are good ideas which make sense – maybe talk a bit less about them. “Technology & form follow function” in typical swedish… Read more »

Ken H
Guest
Ken H

I think if anyone gets scared because of the night panel they should see a shrink.

On the other hand, I think Saab should stop calling it an aerospace feature, just call it what it is. A very smart feature.

Olav
Guest
Olav

I find the Night Panel function very useful. Up here in the north the weather can be really tricky (rain and snow storms – remote roads without lights), and when driving through storms in the dark the Night Panel really is a great safety feature.

Cheers from Norway
-Olav-
Always on the longest road home when out there with my SAAB. Always!

till72
Guest
till72

I really like the night panel.

Really: who cares about Clarkson and TTAC? That’s just yellow car press.

Steve in CT
Guest
Steve in CT

I’ll agree that the authors are playing up the fears.

We love the night panel feature in our Saabs and use it on darker roads, in poor weather conditions, etc.

It’s more strange if you turn it on during the day to see the instruments go dead but that is only something we’ve done just fooling around.

Night Panel is something we like, use and think improves our comfort & safety as drivers.

Tilley
Guest
Tilley

What BS. Those who don’t really understand shouldn’t criticize. Long live the night panel.

TimR
Guest
TimR

I drive about 44000 km per year and most of it at night and i ALWAYS use the nightpanel, working as a commercial pilot it makes me feel right at home! =)

Keep the night panel, its one of the best things in a SAAB! =)

peeceepeh
Guest
peeceepeh

To me, owning a SAAB is not about trying to impress other people. It is about (secretely?) knowing that you’ve made the right decision. So, I put on the night panel when I drive alone at night. And it put’s a smile on my face.

That is something non-SAABers will not understand.

Btw, the 9-3 was not the first car with that function. And for the 9-3, it’s NIGHT panel.

tmjr
Guest
tmjr

Exactly why I don’t think emerging markets are a place for SAAB yet. I think it takes a mature economy to consider SAAB the anti-status -symbol- status -symbol. If that makes any sense.

Sam
Guest
Sam

I rarely use Night Panel since almost all of my night driving is short trips in town. It has always seemed to be a gimmick to me, with limited usefulness, but am glad that most of the commenters here are using it and like it.

Paddan
Guest
Paddan

I don’t use it often but am glad its there for the really long dark drives. TTAC tends to be generally negative on Saabs as is its bloggers. Respectfully, Baruth and Clarkson are drama queens.

Aerokev
Guest

I do mostly city driving these days, but as soon as it’s night time and outside most of the lights, Night Panel is on. I love freaking out my passengers with it too. 🙂

NZSAAB
Guest
NZSAAB

Its a cool wee gimmick.

Only use it to show friends otherwise I dont touch it.

You see I love Saab’s green dash backlights and dont find them dazzling. Why would I want to shut them off or dim them? As bright as they will go I say!

Hold on . . . A dimmed centre stack will only make it harder for the wife to bugger up the radio and HVAC controls! So perhaps I could use it more often after all!

MarkS
Guest
MarkS

Baruth and Clarkson are a couple of drama queens who shouldn’t be taken seriously. Night panel is a brilliant idea, and a very useful feature for the DRIVER. It’s not there to impress passengers or to bring aeronautical images to mind. These two showcase their own stupidity with such comments!

David
Guest
David

I understand Night Panel being bad if in the middle of nowwhere road trip, but I drive two Interstates to get home from University, normally at night, The Night Panel makes ahuge difference I just love it.

Paul PS
Guest
Paul PS

I love it -> it really helps. I don’t undersand what anybody has against it -> unless they’re just jealous, cos there piece of compensation doesn’t have one…..

Actually we should start a facebook group -> called night button for ever….

Keep up the good work.
pps

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