I saw my first "other" MZ3 in my area today (Solar Yellow fully equipped). With the lights off as I looked back in my rear view, the low beam area (xenon) appeared a subtle blue. I actually really liked its appearance and kicked myself in the butt for not getting this option.
Can someone with xenon lighting confirm if this is true or if I'm just seeing things?
Projector beam headlamps use one giant optical element to create a beam pattern from a source bulb. The material used in this element (plastic or glass - I'm not sure what the Mazda3 uses) has a natural amount of dispersion. Dispersion is a material property that quantifies the difference in index of refraction (the n in n1sin(theta1)=n2sin(theta2)) for different wavelengths of light. All headlamp sources are broad band - that is they have a wide spectrum of wavelengths that make up the nearly-white light produced by the bulb. Dispersion in the projector lens means that the lens appears to have a different prescription/power for each wavelength of light that passes through it. Much like a prism, the wavelengths separate with blue light being refracted more than red light.
Heres the reason that projector beam headlights have that blue band at the boundary:
the physical mask that forms the "sharp" beam cutoff produces diffraction effects at its edge. The blue light is diffracted farther into the shadow than the rest of the colors, so it is visible by itself. The other colors are also diffracted, but they all blend together to still seem white. If your rearview mirror catches this small band of blue, you will see the headlights behind you as blue. As the car behind you goes over bumps in the road, the blue band moves on and off of your rearview mirror (or pupil if the car is oncoming). This creates the "flickering" appearance, where the headlights appear to quickly change between white, blue, and dark.
It could go either way. If the light source (filament or arc) is in the same position for both types, they could get away with using the same lens for each. This would be better from an economic standpoint, because they only have to design, produce, and stock one lens. The quickest way to find out is if the part number for the lens/lens assembly is the same for the HID and Xenon equipped cars. The parts guy at the dealerships might be able to find out, or we can look for printed part numbers on the parts themselves.
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