Car Tech Spotlight: Audi A7's ultrabright blind spot alert
Drivers can’t miss the sometimes startling LED indicator in the side mirror, although they can choose to turn it down.
Blind-spot warning systems that use cameras or radar sensors to detect other vehicles in a driver’s "no-see-‘em" zone have become available on a wider variety of vehicles. But the visual and audible alerts they give off -- and that add to a growing cacophony of warning sounds and flashing lights from a proliferation of driver assistance systems -- can become all too easy to ignore, which has become a problem in and of itself.
Ignoring the visual alerts from Audi’s Side Assist blind-spot warning system shouldn’t be a problem since it’s bright enough to startle a driver, as I found out recently while testing a 2014 Audi A7 TDI. In fact, it was too bright. Fortunately, the intensity of the warning (a series of yellow LEDs fixed to the side mirror housings) can be adjusted.
Both my wife and I on separate occasions flinched from the flash of the alert. The first time I initially thought that a police cruiser or other emergency vehicle that I hadn’t seen or heard was bearing down on me. So the Side Assist visual alert definitely gets your attention -- if you want it to.
While digging around in the driver assistance section of the A7 TDI’s in-dash, onscreen menu, I noticed that the intensity of the Side Assist alert can be adjusted between dark to bright using the MMI rotary controller in the center console. I had it set to bright in the video below, but this doesn’t do the brightness of the alert justice, especially when it’s dark out.
Interestingly, Audi’s Side Assist feature doesn’t also include an audible alert, like some blind-spot warning systems. Maybe that’s because the visual warning is so bright, but apparently Audi doesn’t agree that it is. On its media website, Audi says that “a yellow LED indicator lights up in the side mirror housing without disturbing the driver, since the driver only sees it when looking directly at the mirror.”
From my experience, that wasn’t the case. But truth be told, if there’s a vehicle in my blind spot that I don’t see when I start to switch lanes, I want to be startled.
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