'Acceptable' headlights restore Audi A3's Top Safety Pick Plus rating

The A3\'s basic HID headlamps on the lowest and midrange trim levels still earn a \'poor\' rating.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has restored the Audi A3's Top Safety Pick Plus rating after receiving a model equipped with LED headlights.

The A3 had previously been included in the list of Top Safety Pick Plus winners for the 2016 model year, but its HID headlights -- outfitted on the entry-level trim and Premium edition -- earned a 'poor' rating in the new IIHS lighting assessment program. For 2017, vehicles must be offered with headlights that earn an 'acceptable' or 'good' rating.

"The promotion to the higher award comes after IIHS obtained A3s with different lighting systems for headlight testing," the IIHS report notes. "The LED headlights on the Prestige trim and the Premium Plus trim equipped with the optional LED lighting package earn an acceptable rating."

To be clear, the non-Prestige trim levels without the optional LED upgrade still use the same HID lights that earned a 'poor' rating. The test results indicated "inadequate lighting on the straightaway and all four curves that are part of the IIHS evaluation."

Other automakers appear to have rushed new headlights into production to achieve TSP+ status for 2017. The IIHS will likely make the rules even tighter at some point, potentially requiring a 'good' headlight rating for the top safety award.

Read more!