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
Peter, Sweden
Guest

I always use the Night Panel function for long night trips. Sometimes I drive on really dark roads, in the middle of nowhere in the southern parts of Sweden where my parents live, and for those three, four hour drives in, literally, total darkness, the night panel feature is an awesome thing. Those of you calling it a gimmick probably never drive in Sweden – at 3am, massive forests on both sides of the road, in complete blackness 😉 It’s not only pleasing for your eyes, it also makes it easier to spot animals on the road. The only way… Read more »

Iiari
Guest
Iiari

I have no idea what the complaints in the press are about either. I love the Night Panel on my Turbo-X SC. It is indeed the long drives (in my case, on the interstate) when it’s really very helpful, definitely helping to reduce eye strain. I’ll also use it after a long day at work when driving at night when I feel additional eye strain as well, and I always notice the difference. Like someone else mentioned, I too would actually like to see the concept taken a bit further as well to additionally simplify other aspects of the cockpit… Read more »

David
Guest
David

I love it on my 2010 9-5! Just one of the many reasons I purchased the Saab over the competition!

Will
Guest
Will

Believe it or not, the Saab dealer didn’t explain it to me when I picked up my car. But once I read about it and tried it, I almost immediately wished that every single car I’d ever owned was equipped with it. I wear contact lenses, sometimes for longer hours than I should. The bright orange dash needles in my old car used to kill me on the way home from a night shift. And anybody that doesn’t have at least a vague idea of how much fuel they have in their tank and how far it will take them… Read more »

peeceepeh
Guest
peeceepeh

Cool idea! I would love to have it, too. I don’t think it would take too much to realize it. Coat the surfaces of the buttons with a capacitive touch pad. Like this: http://v3.espacenet.com/publicationDetails/biblio?DB=EPODOC&adjacent=true&locale=de_EP&FT=D&date=20080814&CC=DE&NR=102007010520B3&KC=B3
You can actually use a capacitive touchpad as a proximity sensor.

montahue
Guest
montahue

Who cares what Jeremy Clarcson thinks, he is obviously nothing but a little girl.

jimmy
Guest
jimmy

I think it’s totally awesome that a silly dash button and it’s usefulness can create 126 posts and counting! Night panel is cool, I once rented a Pontiac that had dash lights so bright they were annoying in daylight. But as a Saab repair person I would have to say it’s generated many frantic phone calls about dash gauges that don’t work. ( usually from the same people who made sure that the used car we sold them had an owner’s manual !!! ) My c900 has automatic night panel, the troll in the dash gets to decide when the… Read more »

J Fan
Guest
J Fan

I have the same in our Volvo 940 – Sometimes the temperature gauge thinks the ‘Night Panel’ switch has been engaged. Then it comes on. I like it as it ensures that our car never overheats 🙂 Come to think of it, back in 1993, when flying along a back-road at 80mph in our then new Saab 9000 2.0 EcoPower, the whole car switched itself off and wouldn’t come back on again – was this in fact merely an experimental Saab that had a full ‘Night Panel’ mode? Obviously Saab perfected it a little, realising that the engine, power-steering and… Read more »

Ying
Guest
Ying

It is possible Will, some SLRs eqip with a proximity sensor so when you put your eyes closer to the optical view finder the LCD screen shuts off to remove distracting glare.

Some mobile phones also have this technology.

It is arguable weather it will be more distracting in a car environment though.

No9
Guest
No9

What the hell are these bimbos talking about? And they are the same that complain that all cars are the same. You can’t have your cake and eat it. Anything to bash SAAB if you ask me. Everybody claims to want to be different but when the time comes, they wine like weenies. Besides, if you are so damn insecure don’t f******* use it. End of story.

Millerman
Guest
Millerman

@Swade: you should incorporate a Night Panel feature on your site! When clicked, it should change the style sheets to something black with green letters, leaving only the articles to read.

See if that scares people! I would use it, this bright white lightens up the room too much at nightly hours 😉

No9
Guest
No9

Just like we use night charts when sailing.
The moronic journalist press can’t imagine looking further than there own ignorance. Peter’s principle I guess.

100%Saab
Guest
100%Saab

I haven’t used it much, but still like having it.

MitchbSC
Guest
MitchbSC

Night Panel trumps other useless automotive features like MMI and iDrive where you can’t adjust environmentals or the friggin’ radio on a 20 min test drive without parking the AudiBimmer advanced thing o’ excellence to read the manual or flip screens 5 deep.

saabdude
Guest
saabdude

Tried it in my wife’s ’03 9-5 Aero, & my previous ’08 9-5 SC Aero…didn’t care for it…but didn’t scare me either. Besides…I spent 25 years flying for a commercial airline in the US…and the pilots I flew with didn’t want the instruments darkened out…EVER. Always nice to be able to take a glance at an instrument to see how things are behaving. Not to worry though…they’re just a couple of wankers looking for some headlines. Who cares? As for the MMI…have it in my A5, and have gotten used to it. It actually works quite nicely. Can’t really compare… Read more »

roy
Guest
roy

just like to say that on my 96v4 i can dim or turn of the dash lights and when fuel is low a warning light comes on.so this function is nothing new on saabs.

cdp88
Guest
cdp88

Scaremongering for sure. I don’t use night panel very often but the few times I’ve taken a long drive at night it was very helpful, reduced the strain on my eyes.

I always know how much fuel I have and when I will need to fill up. This is just not a worry for me.

DAVID
Guest
DAVID

It scares only the ill-informed. It is a great SAAB feature for long night time drives. Anyone scared should be so lucky to be in a SAAB!

Beren Erchamion
Guest

Good lord – what’s next – OMG I put the key in, put in in first gear and it started to roll!!!!!! What should I do????

How about don’t hit the dumb button if you don’t like it….duh.

I use it quite a bit – but I also know my mileage.

fred in nh
Guest
fred in nh

I am sensitive to light in that bright lights can trigger a migraine for me. For this reason I find the nightpanel to be a wonderful thing. I use it all the time in my 2008 9-3 sc. I do wish that it completely killed everything but speedo instead of just dimming. The bright yellow airbag light is especially annoying.

Paul
Guest
Paul

Fred – I’m with you on the irritating airbag light. That’s definitely “born from lawsuit worries.” Those pieces on Night Panel are just silly to me – I have to admit I see a little humor in them – but it’s beyond stupid to head out on a road trip (night or day) on the verge of running out of fuel. And if the gauge does come on, it’s just a fuel gauge, it’s not like Saab’s built an ejector seat into the car. I like Night Panel and I find it one of the things that make Saabs cool… Read more »

J Fan
Guest
J Fan

my sister is the same – she puts masking tape or paper over any lights she doesn’t like.

Alfie
Guest
Alfie

I have a 9003 9-5 Arc and only use the Night Panel occasionally. But I can tell you from personal experience the fuel guage will NOT go dark if you are low on gas. It simply stays lit while all the other guages are dark. In a similar vein, once when I had the Night Panel engaged, when I hit the trunk release button, the car diagram on the dash immediately illuminated with the grunk ajar warning light – even though all the other guages remained dark. So not to worry – use the Night Panel all you want. If… Read more »

Mike900
Guest
Mike900

I looooove my night panel… I use it regularly, enjoy it regularly, and show it off to passengers regularly.

It really makes a huge difference to the comfort of your eyes, especially on very dark roads.

Long Live Night Panel !!!!

Jeff
Guest
Jeff

Another example of why TTAC is kinda useless, they always pick out little niggling things and act like they completely ruin the car, and they really overdo the sarcasm and hyperbole because they all want to be Farago (who I personally never liked in the first place, but that’s just me). Everyone I’ve explained Night Panel to thought it was a cool idea, and, frankly, if a light coming on in your car actually frightens you, you have problems…unless your car has a “Engine Preparing to Explode” light. As for Clarkson, his point is moot, he obviously didn’t drive the… Read more »

saab93f
Guest
saab93f

TTiD will do another 250kms when there´s quarter tank left so it really should not bother anyone else except those travelling across Australia in the dark 🙂

Silly journos – both of them. Totally unnecessary ranting.

Rich
Guest
Rich

When I got home from work and saw 130+ comments on the newest SU thread, I thought that something major must have broken during the day. Zoinks!! What could have happened? Turns out that yes… this is actually just all about Night Panel. I should have known better, especially given how I appreciate this feature as well. On those occasions when I have had the Vig on the open highway late at night (far less often than I would like) it has been a pleasure to do away with unnecessary lights so I could focus on the driving. But then,… Read more »

Ken H
Guest
Ken H

Well, you see…

Don’t pick on my Night Panel button!

🙂

C H Tay
Guest
C H Tay

I like this feature and use it for long distance night driving. Can’t leave home driving without it!!

Carlos
Guest
Carlos

I usually use the night pannel in the way to my job early in the morning and when I visit my parents 480 km away from my home once a month, usually at night. From my point of view, it´s perfect. My eyes are less tired, I have less distrations and I can see much better outside the car. I love it!!!

Åatchman
Guest
Åatchman

Simple answer. Don’t press that button if you do not like it!? simple as that..

saabdude
Guest
saabdude

+1 😀

BaRa
Guest
BaRa

There’s only one thing that bothers me about the night panel… that’s the location of the button, and its visibility. Why oh why does Saab put it “behind” the steering wheel where you have to fumble for the right button? This is especially annoying in the current 9-3!

Rune
Guest
Rune

In the 9-3 and the new 9-5, the NP button can be reached by touch.

There are no other buttons surrounding it, so if your hand is in the general area near the NP button, you’ll be able to find it without looking.

…which is a great benefit, because once you activate NP, the dash gets pretty dark and it’ll be difficult to find buttons with your eyes.

Arild
Guest

They should put the night panel button on the steering wheel. Then we would have no trouble finding it and we would probably use the night panel more often.

LarsJorge
Guest
LarsJorge

I like the night panel and I asume that most people do the same but it will always be journalists as does not have anything to rewrite and then chooses something they believe people will react on.

Toby
Guest
Toby

The country roads in the UK are becoming undriveable-Sometimes I use night panel so I can see just that little bit better, looking at the road surface to avoid pot holes etc-I find I can see better without ambient dash light. Its a good thing in my book.

Stephen
Guest
Stephen

To be honest I agree with both parties on this one. When you do first use the button (during the day) you do think, ‘what’s the point of this button? However, drive down a country road or motorway with no street lighting and you immediately see the point of this feature, as not only are you eyes focused on the one instrument that counts, the speedometer, you’re also not blinded by the lights on the dash. In comparison, I drove a new german car a few weeks ago (not naming any manufactures) and it was like driving a car with… Read more »

Nicola
Guest
Nicola

Night Panel fear? No.
I use it just a few, when it’s raining at night to reduce any sort of distraction.

Somebody wants to make it appear as a gadget?
Many cars have many gadgets, do you prefer to change instruments color following your mood?
That one is veeery useful! :/

I prefer THIS “gadget” since it has at least a safety reason to be there…

ivo 71
Guest
ivo 71

I’d like to see Jeremy Clarkson react here if he dares 😉 . He seems to be -or has once been- a kind of a Saab fan, as are the other TG types, so it’s not all that far-fetched an idea. I mean, other UK car journos appear here as well on a regular basis without getting roasted over a low fire.

That other guy from TBAC (B = Bull) can stay away as far as I’m concerned. No fun there, just would-be journalistic narcissism.

Ivo

hipchecker
Guest
hipchecker

I love the night panel. In fact, I wish the speedometer wouldn’t light up and everything would go dark.

These writer are idiots.

Alvaro isla
Guest
Alvaro isla

I love the black panel. When I first read about the feature I ignored but as I start using it i find out how resting is to my eyes as well as how much better you can see the road. I can not drive at night without it

Major
Guest
Major

My old Saab 96 V4 had a permanent “Night Panel”. I had to use a flash light to check the speed… 🙂

Bill H.
Guest
Bill H.

Remember that TTAC also stands for

Testosteronic Twits At Computers…..

Juerg_U
Guest
Juerg_U

Those blokes just shouldn’t drive cars! The night panel is so useful i never want to miss it! I use it at night on the highway all the time, my eyes are not getting tired ao fast. Great feature.

PaulO
Guest
PaulO

Night Panel is a Bright Idea!

Driving long distances through rural Australia at night – it removes unnecessary distractions from the driver.
It will light up when an item needs to be checked – otherwise – trust your SAAB!

Tessa
Guest
Tessa

I looooove Night Panel! When driving at night it improves my nightvision and my eyes doesn’t get tired as fast.
If they have a problem with thinking that they are runnig out of petrol, they are using it the wrong way… and NOT when it’s dark… Of course, it requires an IQ above your shoesize to understand how it works……
I agree that the button could be placed better. We will get at new car in a few weeks and I hope it’s a 9-3 or new 9-5 🙂

MacPeter
Guest
MacPeter

Yesterday night I was driving or precisely accelerating in nightpanel mode on the Autobahn 😉 and suddenly my turbo gauge lit up besides the speedometer and the needle was in the red area. I have a Hirsch Performance tuned MY05 CV 2.0t with originally 175 bhp upgraded to 195 bhp with automatic transmission. Do I have to worry about this – as the nightpanel mode is constructed in that way that it shows only states which requires your special attention? Recently I had an “update” of the Hirsch Performance software at my local saab dealership… does that mean that HP… Read more »

NZSAAB
Guest
NZSAAB

I failed to tell a prospective buyer about 9-5 before a day time test drive. When my wife was selling her 1999 9-5 Sedan, the prospective buyers who took it for a drive and tried out all the functions and the guys wife in the passengers seat pushed the button and obviously in day light she didnt immediately notice anything. . . . but when the ladies husband noticed he had lost everything but his speedo he was in ultimate disbelief and immediately returned the car. He was very apologetic and sheepish when he came over to me. He explained… Read more »

By continuing to use the site, you agree to the use of cookies. more information

The cookie settings on this website are set to "allow cookies" to give you the best browsing experience possible. If you continue to use this website without changing your cookie settings or you click "Accept" below then you are consenting to this.

Close