Your number one source for car news, autosport news and the latest developments in green technology!

Scents and sensibility for the new Mercedes S-Class

Scents and sensibility for the new S-Class

Luxury cars should now be considered ‘living spaces’ offering ‘Energising Comfort’ according to Mercedes

A couple of weeks ago, I attended the first press event for the all-new Mercedes S-Class. It was one of the more unusual press events, in that the S-Class is being launched from the inside out. The new car is also no longer about shipping serious-minded German captains of industry up and down the autobahn. Nor is its primary mission all about shuttling big wigs to the airport.

No, Mercedes admits that W222 has been designed primarily as a long wheelbase car and that it is aimed at the lucrative Asian market, where owners never drive and are always driven. However, the content of the W222 has also been strongly influenced by what Mercedes calls emerging ‘mega-trends’ of ‘health and fitness’. Apparently, it’s all about the affluent who want to achieve a ‘life balance’ by ‘relaxing and preserving their [personal] resources’.

Goetz Renner, whose full title is head of the ‘Center for Society, Vehicle Concepts, and Human-Machine Interaction’ at Daimler, told me that there are ìtwo sides to comfortî. ìFirst it is the minimisation of discomfort and then the maximisation of your well-being.

However, Mercedes enthusiasm for improving the ‘well-being’ of the passengers in the new S-Class has taken it to some unexpected areas. Sure it has exploited conventional engineering techniques, going to town on body engineering (the new shell is stiffer, has a partly aluminium front structure and a much more rigid rear bulkhead) and taken noise reduction materials and cabin sealing to new levels.

But, bolstered by research from its team in Berlin, Merc has tapped into the lifestyles of the global affluent which, unsurprisingly, heavily feature flying first class and visiting ultra-luxury hotels. Specify the executive rear seats and the passenger-side back bencher can push the front seat forward and extend the rear seat into what’s close to a proper flat bed. Folding tray tables, a two-bottle champagne fridge and heating and cooling bottle holders are also on the options list.

But there are two features of the car, which are far more spa hotel than automotive engineering. Firstly, the ‘Energising’ massage function for the seats is based on the fashionable ‘hot stone’ massage, which sees very hot stones placed along the spine. Merc’s Dr Gudrun Schˆnherr, a physiotherapist and psychologist, started work on replicating this technique inside a car back in 2007.

The result is a massage mat with 14 pneumatic cells that is built into the S-Class seat and extra-fast seat-heating elements. W222 passengers will be able to choose from six different massage programmes, including ‘Hot Relaxing Massage Back’ and ‘Active Workout’. Front seat passengers will also enjoy heated arm rests, surely a world-first?

However, the crowning glory of this new direction in luxury car design has to be the ‘active perfuming system’, a £300 option. Part of what’s called the ‘Air-Balance’ package (which also includes ionisation and a very advanced air filtering system), the perfuming set-up uses a glass container of scent, mounted in the glovebox, which it atomises, puffing it through the ventilation system. Mercedes even hired a perfumer called Marc vom Ende, who created four unique scents for the S-Class interior: Freeside Mood, Downtown Mood, Sports Mood and Nightlife Mood.

With fold-flat seats, hot massage and aromatherapy big features of the new S-Class, I suspect we won’t being hearing much about the W222’s best lap time on the Nordschleife.