Relaxation stations: These cars are taking on-road luxury to a new level
Luxury car makers want their customers to be comfortable. That’s a given. But some are going the extra mile – we’re talking relaxation pods on wheels.
The extended-wheelbase Bentley Bentayga, for example, could save you a trip to an osteopath, while the Mercedes EQS SUV uses lights, animations and smells to improve your mood.
The Bentayga EWB boasts seven inches of additional legroom and that’s good news if passengers want to put their feet up and recline the rear seats to 40 degrees. Bentley doesn’t make the limo-like Mulsanne any more – instead it believes what VIPs want is a really big and cosseting SUV.
The USP when it comes to the Bentayga’s 22-way adjustable airline-style rear seats (an £8,395 option on top of the car’s £211,300 base price) is that they’re designed to enhance wellbeing. These smart seats offer two invisible innovations of note. The first is a fatigue prevention system, which makes micro postural adjustments to the occupants’ seating positions – like a pilates bed, if you like, but in seat form.
State-of-the-art air cells allow complex twisting movements through the front cushions, lower back, lumbar and upper back-rests to defeat dead spots and reinvigorate muscles. There are six independent pressure zones and three intensity settings that can provide 177 adjustments in a three-hour rotation.
The second seating innovation is a thermal comfort system, whereby the seats measure occupants’ body temperature and humidity and provide optimal thermal comfort through heating and ventilation. To do this, the system uses a complex predictive algorithm to move air around the seats and dehumidify the passengers.
The idea is that its occupants emerge after each journey feeling better than they felt before they stepped through its extra-long doors.
Mercedes, meanwhile, has steered away from the medical and focused on atmosphere and serenity when it comes to its all-electric EQS SUV.
The £129,170 Mercedes offers three ‘energising nature’ programmes designed for power-napping, via its Burmester stereo – Forest Glade (birdsong and rustling leaves), Sound of the Sea (soothing surf and seagull squawks) and Summer Rain (raindrops on leafy canopies and distant thunder). The sensory oasis these sound files create is heightened by ambient lighting and visuals of stars and whatnot, which pass across the dashboard screens.
This is particularly impressive thanks to the MBUX Hyperscreen (a £7,995 extra), whereby the whole dashboard can be changed into a hi-tech instrument panel comprised of three seamless screens. Never has a car been so digitised. It features eight CPU cores, 24GB of RAM and 46.4GB per second RAM memory.
The driver’s seat reclines electrically, the roller blinds of the sunroof and windows are activated, the air is ionised (the EQS patented air filter is the most effective in the business) and ambient lighting adjusted. Soothing sounds and the starry sky across the central dash appear, and the massage functions will lull you into a soporific stupor.
At the end of the power nap programme, the soundscape changes along with the massage programme and seat ventilation. The seat moves back to the upright position automatically and the blinds roll back down. Time to carry on driving.
Say ‘Hey Mercedes’ for voice activation to kick in, and request ‘energising coach’. Tell the car how you feel, and it’ll respond. For example, ‘I’m stressed’ will trigger its regenerative Joy programme to soothe and reassure and improve the driver’s (or passenger’s) mood. Adding to the spa effect is the car’s built-in fragrance with top notes of violet, orange, blackcurrant and raspberry.
In both cases, the Rolls-Royce Cullinan was benchmarked. The Roller’s ride and craftsmanship is impossible to fault but in terms of the seats and wellness, Bentley and Mercedes are ahead (the Rolls may still boast its roof ‘star’ lights from 2015 but there are no thermal seats or rainforest-soundtracked power naps).
The only things missing are a Buddha, some yoga mats and a candle-decorated plunge pool. And relax…
Ask the Car Doctor: What is a tyre label?
Cazoo automotive editor Leo Wilkinson says: ‘If you’re shopping for new tyres, you might have noticed that each one comes with a rating label that gives you information about its fuel efficiency, how much grip it gives in wet weather and how much noise it generates.
‘A physical label is attached to every tyre when it’s made and you’ll see the same label next to each tyre when you’re comparing them online. The ratings run from A to E for fuel efficiency and wet-weather grip, and from A to C for noise. A is the best and tyres that score all As can be expensive.
‘Should you always go for straight As? It depends on your priorities. You may be willing to compromise in one area or another, but a good all-rounder will score at least Bs and Cs across the board.’
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