Ah, autumn. Or the season of mists and motoring fruitlessness, as Keats would no doubt have written had he not died 146 years before the M40 opened.
What with climate change pushing autumnal weather ever backwards and retailers pushing Christmas ever forwards, it’s a job to know which arrives first these days: decorative lights in your local shops or bright lights on the outside lane of your local motorway, on the back of a car travelling at 80mph when it’s foggy.
I’ve never quite understood this. If the conditions are clear enough to drive at high speed, one doesn’t need foglights. And if visibility is bad enough for one to need foglights, it’s not clear enough to drive at speed. And yet every time I see the weather is a bit iffy, that’s where we are. Sigh.
■ While we’re on the subject, I’ve been testing a Peugeot 2008 whose front foglights you illuminate by toggling a collar on the indicator stalk, which is fine; with a sidelight/headlight toggle on the end as well, this stalk takes care of all the lights. However, to illuminate the rear foglight, first you have to scroll through a stage that illuminates the front foglights and driving lights. So the rear can’t be illuminated without the fronts, which isn’t so fine.
Logically this irks me. The argument could be that they’re driving lights, not foglights; light manufacturer PIAA says that there’s a difference and that driving lights are there to boost the view of highbeam headlights. But these aren’t those; Peugeot calls them foglights and you can’t actually specify them on the base Active trim level, so they clearly aren’t considered essential safety items. They’re there because you might think they look cool.
Fine, but don’t integrate them with the rear foglight. Fog and mist can be so dense at times that high-beam headlights or front foglights glare off it and actually reduce visibility. Yet you would absolutely, no question, want the rear foglight illuminated, either first or independently.
I don’t think Peugeot is alone in doing this; it just happens to be the example I have this week. To not allow it is silly.
■ Meanwhile, an excellent Peugeot feature. We’ve all done it or know someone who has: you give beloved a lift, they hop out and you drive off. They have the car keys with them. At some point you realise; maybe soon, maybe once you’ve arrived somewhere and turned off the car.
However, in the 2008, push the engine-stop button when the key is elsewhere and a warning flashes on the dashboard: ‘The key isn’t in the car. Give a long push on the off button if you’re really sure you want to switch the car off.’ It’s still not as simple as having a hole to put the key into, but it might get you out of a fix.