by Adrian Dorofte and Adrian Andronic
e-mail: mercedesbenzblog@gmail.com

Mercedes-Benz TecDay "S-Class Ambience: The Essence of Luxury" (I)

I. Mercedes-Benz TecDay "S-Class Ambience: The Essence of Luxury" - The assignment: Perfection

The best automobile in the world – every new generation of the Mercedes-Benz S-Class has earned this accolade anew for itself. The logical goal in the book of specifications for the coming model was therefore: perfection to the last detail. The result is "The Essence of Luxury". This pursuit of the best or nothing is particularly noticeable in the interior: whether it is the seats or the air conditioning, the controls or the design, the infotainment or the comfort and safety in the rear – new ideas and their painstaking realisation underpin the high standards that the engineers have set for the Mercedes-Benz flagship model – and for themselves.

For the first time in the history of the S-Class, the development focus was on the long-wheelbase Saloon. Unlike before, the standard-wheelbase version was derived from this. This is because the S-Class is not only firmly positioned as a prestige saloon in the large overseas markets such as the USA, China or Japan. Whereas in Europe and North America the owner of an S-Class is frequently behind the wheel themself, the flagship model in the Mercedes-Benz passenger car portfolio is very definitely a chauffeur-driven vehicle in Asia. The logical consequence is the number of new features specifically related to comfort and safety in the rear – in the S-Class, there is no doubt that passengers in the rear are also seated in first class.

Not that the driver lacks for anything: the very latest Mercedes-Benz research findings have been incorporated into his immediate surroundings. These clearly confirm that certain comfort characteristics have a direct influence over driver fitness and wellbeing during and after a journey. Comfort is also conducive to safety.

The new S-Class features highly sophisticated, automatic climate control functions. The seats likewise lay claim to being the benchmark in automobile engineering. In both cases this is accompanied by maximum operating convenience, ensured by numerous actuators and electric motors – there are over 100 of these in the interior alone.

Interior design: visual breadth and calm solidity

With its clear-cut architecture, the interior design of the new S-Class is the embodiment of a classic, serene and yet ultra-modern saloon car. The interior space derives its expressiveness from a distinctively flowing, sensual and elegant style. Horizontal features and lines create an ambience characterised by visual breadth and calm solidity. Where high quality and elegance go hand in hand with clarity and functionality. The interior concept of the S-Class combines driving, spatial and operating comfort at the highest level.

The perfectly coordinated use of materials and colours produces an exclusive interior seemingly cast from a single mould. There is generous use of wood trim, especially in the dashboard and centre console. Metallised switch surfaces with pearl-effect paint finishes in three colour shades to suit the interior colour particularly highlight the outstanding quality.

Passengers in the rear are also seated in first-class – the design and exclusivity of the seats, door panels and all controls are to the same, high standard as the front. As an additional individualisation feature, the "First Class Rear" incorporates a Business centre console combining personal comfort with practical convenience (integration of a telephone handset, additional stowage compartments, folding table, etc.).

New control and display concept: elegant new command centre

The radically redesigned display extends in front of the driver as a key element of the horizontal alignment. It replaces the traditional instrument cluster and combines numerous other functions in a visually and ergonomically highly sophisticated manner. The entire display appears to be free-floating, an impression reinforced by "corona effect" ambience backlighting.

Two high-resolution colour displays in 8:3 format with a screen diagonal of 30.7 cm (12.3 inches) form the new information centre in the S-Class. The left-hand display performs the functions of the previous instrument cluster, providing the driver with all relevant information. The right-hand display allows the convenient control of infotainment and comfort functions. Ergonomics, operating convenience and safety were the main considerations for the newly designed control and display concept.

For the S-Class, the constantly increasing need to integrate additional functions into the vehicle led to a further development of the entire operating logic. The aim in designing the control and display features was to group controls and display functions together in a coherent manner in terms of both design and functionality. Apart from the new displays, the metallised switch surfaces and solid aluminium controls are visual highlights of particularly high quality.

Seats: mobile office and centre of wellbeing

With numerous world firsts such as the ENERGIZING massage function on the hot-stone principle or active seat ventilation with reversing fans, Mercedes-Benz has raised the seating and climatic comfort in the S-Class to a new level. There is a choice of five different rear seat variants including an Executive seat with a backrest angle adjustable by up to 43.5 degrees, allowing occupants in the rear to concentrate on work or relax in comfort.

A large number of innovations enhance seating and climatic comfort. The ENERGIZING massage function on the hot-stone principleis a world first. Working together with physiotherapists and psychologists, the seat specialists at Mercedes-Benz have developed a unique massage function with 14 separately actuated air cushions in the backrest, as well as an integrated warming function. There is a choice of six massage programmes, two of them using the warming function.

For the first time, so-called reversing fans are used in the active seat ventilation system. Here the rotational direction of the fan, and therefore the airflow within the seat structure, can be reversed. When the ventilation function first begins, cooler surrounding air is drawn onto the seat surface. After four minutes the fans are automatically switched to blower mode to reduce draughts and therefore ensure sustained comfort.

Another world first as part of the Warmth Comfort package is the heated armrests and door centre panels in the front and rear (door and centre armrests). The package also includes a heated steering wheel and particularly fast-responding seat heating Plus. Each occupant is able to find the ideal level of climatic seating comfort. The heating output can be adjusted using the central display or the remote control in the rear.

Luxury or reclining seat in the rear: new backrest concept

Two rear seat variants (static bench seat or individual seats with 37-degree adjustment) are available for the standard-wheelbase S-Class and no less than five for the long-wheelbase version. Unlike the conventional trailing backrest design, the backrest is adjusted separately so that the legroom and seat reference point remain unchanged. The cushion can be separately adjusted for angle and horizontal position.

The maximum backrest angle of the reclining seat on the front passenger side is increased from 37 to 43.5 degrees, giving it the largest backrest inclination in the luxury segment. The reclining seat behind the front passenger seat features a calf support which is freely adjustable for length and angle. In combination with the heel rest on the forward-folding chauffeur seat, this allows a reclined position that sets new standards in the automobile sector with respect to sleeping and resting comfort.

Three new features improve safety in the rear: in the belt buckle feeder an electric motor automatically raises and lowers the buckle. The beltbag is an inflatable seat-belt strap that is able to reduce the risk of injury to passengers in the rear in a head-on collision by lessening the strain on the ribcage. The reclining seat is fitted with a cushionbag as standard. This prevents the occupant from sliding under the belt in the event of an accident. In this way Mercedes-Benz has been able to design a comfortable reclining seat which provides a higher level of accident safety than a seat with a trailing backrest.

Climate control: many new features for a pleasant atmosphere

The newly developed climate control unit of the THERMOTRONIC automatic climate control included as standard has a mass flow regulating concept whose automatic operating principle meets individual comfort requirements for every occupant. New features include completely autonomous adjustment options for the driver and front passenger sides, also for the individual automatic modes with their climatic settings of "Focus", "Medium" and "Diffuse".

As a world first, the new S-Class Saloon has an "active perfuming system" as part of the AIR-BALANCE package. 'Active' means that the perfuming system is switched on and off manually, with manual adjustment of the intensity. The perfume atomisation system individualises the smell of the vehicle interior. It neither changes the interior smell permanently, nor are perfume molecules deposited on fabric surfaces or clothing.

Another feature of the AIR-BALANCE package is improved filtering of the outside air fed into the vehicle interior by the climate control system, and of the air recirculating in the interior in air recirculation mode. The filter system is now even more efficient, and is able to reduce the peak levels of certain gaseous emissions while lowering their concentration below the perception threshold. Ionisation is another component of the AIR-BALANCE package, the air from the climate control unit being conducted into the interior via an ioniser. In a combined operating mode this renders certain viruses, bacteria and spores inactive (cleaning effect). At the same time the air can be freshened by an increased concentration of negatively charged oxygen ions (relaxing effect).

Multimedia features: communication centre and concert hall

A completely new multimedia generation with intuitive operation and particularly tangible functions thanks to visualisation and animations celebrates its debut in the new S-Class. Other innovations include the multi-user system, which allows independent access to the media sources of the entertainment system from any seat. The new S-Class is also the first saloon car to be equipped with the unique Frontbass system as standard. With this system, the woofers are installed within the bodyshell and use the almost 40‑litre space in the cross-member and side member as a resonance chamber.

Several hundred developers worldwide contributed to the new Mercedes-Benz multimedia generation, compiling more than 30 million lines of programming. The centrepiece of the new COMAND Online system is the Intel Atom, a processor whose performance fully equals that of components in the latest laptops.

Numerous new functions extend the multimedia options available, and transform the S-Class into a communication centre or a concert hall as required.

The new S-Class is the first vehicle worldwide to offer a genuine multi-user system for entertainment functions. This means that there is independent access to the media sources of the entertainment system from any of the four seats – i.e. radio, TV, internet, navigation, DVD player and USB-connected devices.

The driver control function for all the seats is another new feature. The driver is able to route any audio or video source to the display and headset of any passenger. At the touch of a button the driver is also able to have one of the audio sources in use played via the onboard loudspeakers.

The innovative Frontbass system developed by Mercedes-Benz and used for the first time in a saloon car is a feature common to all the audio systems: the woofers are housed in the firewall, and use the almost 40-litre space in the cross-member and side member as a resonance chamber. As alternatives to the standard sound system with ten loudspeakers, two very high-quality audio systems are available which were developed together with hi-fi specialists at Burmester: Burmester® Surround Sound system and Burmester® High-End 3D Surround Sound system.

The interactive presentation of content is a prominent new feature of the navigation function. The new navitainment functions include an animated compass, the "Driveshow" for passenger information as in an aircraft, and the display of Google Maps on the head unit and in the rear.

II. Interior design: Visual breadth and calm solidity

With its clear-cut architecture, the interior design of the new S-Class is the embodiment of a classic, serene and yet ultra-modern saloon car. The interior space derives its expressiveness from a distinctively flowing, sensual and elegant style. Horizontal features and lines create an ambience characterised by visual breadth and calm solidity. High quality and elegance go hand in hand with clarity and functionality. The interior concept of the S-Class combines driving, spatial and operating comfort at the highest level.

The radically redesigned display extends behind the two-spoke steering wheel – reminiscent of the S-Class heritage – as a major part of the horizontal alignment. It replaces the traditional instrument cluster and combines numerous other functions in a visually and ergonomically highly sophisticated manner (see section "New display concept"). The entire display unit appears to be free-floating, an impression reinforced by ambience backlighting.

The high-quality unit formed by the centre air vents and the analogue clock is precisely set into three-dimensional wood trim. For the first time this classic wood trim feature is positioned very low. This creates a second level of decorative trim whose luxurious stitched leather lies in the primary field of vision. Both levels extend elegantly across the entire width of the dashboard and doors. With this layout the designers have created an association with the wingbeat of a bird. The result is an extraordinary impression of width combined with a pleasant, calm ambience.

The visually prominent dashboard is characterised by the striking double-S curve. This already made the preceding model unmistakable, and imparts a feeling of spaciousness, safety and security.

The perfectly coordinated use of materials and colours produces an elegant interior seemingly cast from a single mould. There is generous use of wood trim, especially in the dashboard and centre console. Metallised switch surfaces with pearl-effect paint finishes in three colour shades to suit the interior colour particularly highlight the outstanding quality.

Innovative lighting systems in the form of a continuous light band under the wood trim strips and the central display – a completely new dimension in ambience lighting - and elegant lighting units with stylish details in the headlining enhance the comfortable atmosphere.The number and size of the stowage facilities in the interior have been greatly increased compared to the preceding model.

Passengers in the rear are also seated in first-class – the design and exclusivity of the seats, door panels and all controls are to the same, high standard as the front. If a luxury or reclining seat (Executive seat) is specified for the rear, the backrest inclines backwards into the parcel shelf, which means that legroom is not restricted even in the resting position. As an additional individualisation feature, the "First Class Rear" incorporates a Business centre console combining personal comfort with practical convenience (integration of a telephone handset, additional stowage compartments, folding table, etc.). The side finishers of the front seats are formally integrated and feature useful stowage compartments (for details see section "Seats").

In combination with the first-class quality of materials and outstandingly high perceived value, the decidedly varied range of available appointments emphatically confirms the premium positioning of Mercedes-Benz. The innovative architecture of the interior design, which is based on both additive and integrating features, allows a choice of different and very individual styling in terms of colours and materials.

The standard appointments already meet high expectations. They include leather seat upholstery, elegantly finished wood trim and surfaces with decorative topstitching. Various leather versions are available as optional extras, differing in their surface finish (e.g. patterned perforations and a hand-quilted look and feel), and also in terms of the relative leather and trim surfaces. The customer also has a choice of five interior colour arrangements combined with five different types of exotic wood trim.

The interior design of the new S-Class was also influenced by the Mercedes-Benz Advanced Interior Design Studio in Como, whose primary task was also to explore how the highest possible perceived quality can be created. Using the so-called "appreciation model", the designers were able to give free rein to their imagination and look for ways of translating these ideals into series production features. This led to a harmonious and luxurious interior whose design, character and perceived value are unrivalled.

III. Under the microscope: perceived quality - "Perceived quality does not depend on the spirit of the age"

When do customers perceive a vehicle interior as high in quality? Fundamental questions like this are an area of activity covered by Dr. Götz Renner, 49, head of the Customer Research Center (CRC) at Mercedes-Benz.

Dr. Renner, everybody talks about the perceived quality of a vehicle's interior, but when exactly do customers consider an interior to be of high quality?
A combination of many attributes makes the difference. Deciding factors include the appearance of the materials and how they feel, intuitive understanding of control functions, a feeling of wellbeing, the precision of finish and the internal consistency of the design, the variety of features provided and the impression of solidity. Taken together, these factors create a rewarding feeling that the customer has obtained good value for their purchase price, enabling them to experience lasting pleasure and satisfaction. All of this is naturally also influenced by fashion, but is nonetheless relatively independent of the spirit of the age.

You refer to a lasting feeling of pleasure, but is the first impression not just as important?
Both are important: just as when we meet other people, much is decided by the initial visual impression during the first few seconds. A high-quality interior therefore needs visual highlights that favourably influence the first impression. An unsuitable detail that can spoil the overall impression is correspondingly unfortunate. But in the long run all the human senses are involved in our feeling of wellbeing: your sense of smell determines whether you are attracted or repelled, the ears whether you are disturbed or feel welcome. And if your sense of touch tells you that you want to feel this surface again and again, we have won.

So how are these findings from behavioural psychology used in the development of a new automobile?
Mercedes-Benz design has reversed its approach in recent times. It is no longer a matter of subsequently upgrading and enhancing a functional interior. Instead the so-called "appreciation model" is at the start of the process. Here the designers first put their creative ideals into practice, then look for ways in which their ideas can be translated into series production. This produces a more harmonious and higher-quality result.

IV. The seats: Mobile office and centre of wellbeing

With numerous world firsts such as the ENERGIZING massage function on the hot-stone principle or active seat ventilation with reversing fans, Mercedes-Benz has raised seating and climatic comfort in the S-Class to a new level. The seat developers paid particular attention to the rear seats. There is a choice of five different rear seat variants including an Executive seat with a backrest angle adjustable by up to 43.5 degrees, allowing occupants in the rear to concentrate on work or relax in comfort.

The occupants of the new S-Class benefit from the moderate increase in vehicle size by an improvement in all the interior dimensions: there are 12 millimetres more maximum headroom for the driver, as well as 14 millimetres more shoulder room and 10 millimetres more elbow room in the front. Thanks to the 14-millimetre increase in rear kneeroom travel becomes even more comfortable for passengers in the rear. Shoulder room in the rear has been improved by up to 11 millimetres.

Intelligent lightweight construction and innovative functions: the front seats

Intelligent lightweight construction was the watchword during development of the seats. At less than 20 kilograms, the structure of a front seat weighs around 20 percent less than conventional designs. This is in large measure due to the sandwich construction of the side sections on the seat frame, which consist of a two-piece, high-strength steel shell with integrated plastic inserts. This enables the forces from the backrest attachments to be symmetrically introduced into the seat base. There is a further advantage for the seat belt system: unlike with other seat structures, the belt buckle and anchor fitting not only move with any fore-aft adjustment, but also with seat height adjustment. Whatever the size of the seat occupant, this always ensures the best possible belt fit and maximum safety.

The front seats of the new S-Class are electrically adjustable for length, height, inclination and seat cushion depth. The 4-way Power lumbar support and head restraint height can be equally conveniently adjusted at the touch of a button. If the Memory package for the driver and front passenger is specified, the front passenger seat can also be adjusted by the driver if required.

Thanks to wide-ranging adjustments, occupants of very different sizes are seated very comfortably in the new S-Class. The figures:

- Fore-and-aft adjustment: 290 millimetres

- Seat height: 65 millimetres

- Seat cushion depth: 65 millimetres

- Head restraint height: 60 millimetres

- Cushion angle: +/- 2.5 degrees

- Backrest angle: 27 degrees forward, rearward inclination limited by characteristic mapping to prevent collision with the luxury seats in the rear

The sophisticated upholstery structure of the front seat backrests includes Pullmaflex springing and a natural fibre/rubberised hair insert lined with cut foam. In the seat cushion, the flat spring core of the cushion base has a contoured foam insert lined with cut foam. In each case the seat cover has a fleece lining.

The front head restraints are adjustable both vertically and horizontally. Optionally available electric horizontal adjustment (EASY ADJUST luxury head restraint) is new in the S-Class, and optimises the distance between the occupant's head and the head restraint to lower the risk of whiplash injuries.

Numerous innovative features enhance both seating and climatic comfort – an overview of the most important new developments:

The Front Seat Comfort package includes a world first in the form of the ENERGIZING massage function on the hot-stone principle. In collaboration with physiotherapists and psychologists, the seating experts at Mercedes-Benz have developed a unique massage system with 14 separately actuated air chambers in the backrest and an integrated warming function. There is a choice of six massage programmes, two of which are heat-assisted (for details see section "Under the microscope"). In addition the Front Seat Comfort package includes active-multicontour seats with further improved dynamic functions, which have been awarded a seal of approval by EGR, an organisation promoting spinal health.

There is yet another debut within the Seat Climatisation package: for the first time, so-called reversing fans are used in the active seat ventilation system. Here the rotational direction of the fan, and therefore the airflow within the seat structure, can be reversed. When the ventilation function first begins, cooler surrounding air is drawn onto the seat surface. This enables the surface temperature of a heated-up seat to be reduced much faster than with the previous active cooling systems. After four minutes the fans are automatically switched to blower mode to reduce draughts and therefore ensure sustained comfort. Together with the perforated leather, four fans in the seat cushion and two fans in the backrest ensure a uniform relative air humidity where the occupant's body meets the seat. The intensity can be adjusted in three stages according to individual requirements.

In combination with seat heating – which is also part of the "Seat Climatisation" package but can be ordered separately in conjunction with leather seats - each occupant is able to find the ideal climatic seating comfort. Using the head unit, the customer is able to select the heating output for himself and activate the fast-action heating function. In the main seat area this provides a heating output of up to 2000 watts per sq. m.

The "EASY ADJUST luxury head restraint" adjusts itself automatically when the backrest position of the driver or front passenger seat is changed. This keeps the distance between the head and the restraint constant. On the front passenger side the head restraint can be folded down or removed, allowing the rear passenger an unobstructed view to the front.

If the S-Class is ordered with the "Chauffeur package", the rear seat occupant on the front passenger side has 77 millimetres more maximum kneeroom. This is because the front passenger seat can be moved 40 millimetres further forward, and a further 37 millimetres are available thanks to a 4-link system. In addition to this "chauffeur position" the front passenger seat can be folded forward or placed in an extended-recline position (for details see next section "The rear seats"). The "EASY ADJUST luxury head restraint" is standard equipment with the "Chauffeur package", as is a heel support for the rear passenger which extends from under the front passenger seat if the long-wheelbase version is ordered.

Luxury and reclining seat on request: the rear seats

Whereas in Europe and North America the owner of an S-Class is frequently behind the wheel themself, the flagship model in the Mercedes-Benz passenger portfolio is very definitely a chauffeur-driven vehicle in Asia. The logical consequence is the particular attention devoted to the rear by the seat developers. The rear seats are therefore right in the forefront when it comes to seating/climatic comfort and passive safety.

Two rear seat variants (static bench seat or individual seats with 37-degree adjustment) are available for the standard-wheelbase S-Class and no less than five for the long-wheelbase version. The adjustment kinematics have been changed in the luxury and reclining seat variants. Unlike the conventional trailing backrest design, the backrest is adjusted separately so that the legroom and seat reference point remain unchanged. The cushion can be separately adjusted for angle and horizontal position.

The maximum backrest angle of the Executive (reclining) seat on the front passenger side is increased from 37 to 43.5 degrees, giving it the largest backrest inclination in the luxury segment. The reclining seat behind the front passenger seat features a calf support which is freely adjustable for length and angle. In combination with the heel rest on the folding chauffeur seat (see section "Front seats"), this allows a reclined position that sets new standards in the automobile sector with respect to sleeping and resting comfort.

The individual seat functions in the rear, and those of the chauffeur seat, are operated via the typical Mercedes control panels in the rear doors. The "resting position" key is pressed to bring the front passenger seat and rear seat into the reclining position.

The most upright backrest position of 19 degrees in the luxury and reclining seat variants allows relaxed working in the rear.

The rear seat variants at a glance:


If the First Class Rear is specified (with rear centre console), the front console on the transmission tunnel is visually continued to the rear. It is equipped with innovative thermo-cupholders which use Peltier technology to cool or warm drinks over a longer period of time.

Like an aircraft seat, the centre console is available with two tables which can be easily folded in or out using one hand. Two articulated joints on the stem and underside of the table enable it to be adjusted to almost any position. The table supports and surface are of light alloy, combining great stability with a high-quality look. The table surfaces have leather inserts to provide a comfortable writing surface.

The optional "Rear Seat Comfort package" also makes the innovative ENERGIZING massage function on the hot-stone principle available for the rear seats. The package also includes multicontour seats in the rear (without dynamic control function).

Setting the standard for safety in the rear: new features in the S-Class

Mercedes-Benz has extended the safety system for rear seat passengers further with the belt buckle feeder, the beltbag and the cushionbag. The first two of these developments are included in the "Rear PRE-SAFE® package". With the belt buckle feeder, an electric motor extends and retracts the belt buckle automatically. In this way, any belt slack in the area of the pelvis and thorax can be reduced so that passengers are secured more firmly in both the sideways and the lengthways direction. Fastening seat belts in the rear has also been made simpler: the seat belt buckle emerges from the upholstery when the rear doors are opened and is provided with an illuminated insertion slot. Making the belt-fastening procedure easier may lead to increased use of rear seat belts.

The beltbag is an inflatable seat belt strap which can lower the risk of injury to rear passengers during a frontal impact by reducing the loads acting on the ribcage. Should the crash sensors detect a severe frontal impact, the airbag control unit will trigger deployment and inflation of the beltbag. A gas generator then inflates the multi-layered belt strap with Velcro seams to nearly three times its normal width. The resulting larger surface area is able to better distribute the force acting on the seat occupant, thereby reducing the risk of injury.

The reclining seat is equipped with a cushionbag as standard. This has enabled Mercedes-Benz to design a comfortable reclining seat which provides a higher level of accident safety than a seat with a trailing backrest.

The airbag is located under the seat cushion upholstery, but on top of the plastic seat shell, which is moved by the seat mechanisms. This means that the airbag is always in the same position on the seat shell, and therefore relative to the pelvis position of the occupant. In an accident, with the occupant in a reclined position on a flat seat cushion, there would otherwise be a danger of the pelvic area sliding beneath the seat belt (so-called submarining). This can be prevented by the cushionbag, as it raises the front section of the seat cushion upholstery. The airbag is only activated if the seat is in the reclined position during a crash. It is not activated in the upright position, as there is then no danger of submarining because of the seat cushion angle.

V. Under the microscope: ENERGIZING massage function on the hot-stone principle - The seats actively keep the passengers fit

The numerous world firsts in the S-Class include the ENERGIZING massage function on the hot-stone principle. Combining warmth with a massage leads to wellbeing and active relaxation – especially on long journeys. In addition there are programmes to mobilise and activate the torso (abdominal and back muscles). Thomas Geisel, who is responsible for S-Class seat development at Mercedes-Benz: "The car seat has by no means reached the end of its development."

Massage on the hot-stone principle is a widespread tradition found on every continent, and has been developed further in recent years to enhance relaxation and wellbeing. With this technique, the spine is covered with stones heated to up to 55 degrees C and massaged. In 2007 developers at Mercedes-Benz began to consider how this technique might be applied to car seat functions. Daimler employee Dr. Gudrun Schönherr, a physiotherapist and psychologist, explains: "Sitting in a car in a position imposing sternocostal stresses (i.e. with the back arched) often leads to tension in the neck/shoulder area, a constrained chest cavity and therefore less freedom to breathe."

The innovative solution arrived at by the seat specialists and Dr. Schönherr is the pneumatic 14-cell massage mat, which is based on the massage function already available previously. Each air chamber can be individually inflated, which allows considerably more scope when configuring the massage programmes. The four cells in the middle act in combination with a fast-action seat heating function. In the Hot Relaxing Massage Back and Hot Relaxing Massage Shoulder programmes of the ENERGIZING massage function, a defined amount of heat is applied.

How the hot-stone principle is applied

Following a pre-massage, heat is centrally and locally applied along the entire spine from the coccyx to the neck vertebrae. The centre chambers are fully inflated with air. Thanks to this pressure the warmth from the seat heating Plus function is perceived very intensively - feeling similar to successively laid-down, heated stones on the hot-stone principle. While the heat and pressure of the "hot stones" are taking effect, the back, pelvis and shoulder areas are massaged and mobilised. To this end a row of five air chambers is arranged to the left and right of the central cells. Each chamber can be separately actuated.

The occupants of the four seats in the new S-Class available with the ENERGIZING massage function have an individual choice of six programmes. These differ in their massage sequence (the sequence in which the cells are inflated), speed and therefore effect. There is also a choice of "weak" or "strong" intensity settings for each programme. Depending on the actuation mode the massage takes the form of double waves, strokes and percussion, based on kneading movements, pressure point massage and classic massage holds. Two of the six programmes also offer the addition of heat on the hot-stone principle. The programmes of the ENERGIZING massage function have a duration of 12 to 15 minutes.

The six programmes of the ENERGIZING massage function:

1) Hot Relaxing Massage Back
2) Hot Relaxing Massage Shoulder
3) Activating Massage
4) Classic Massage
5) Mobilizing Massage
6) Active Workout

Depending on the programme, the warmth, massage and mobilisation of the spine relieve the shoulder/neck muscles and vertebral discs of stress, manipulating the spine in the chest and lumbar areas. Tests with volunteers have shown that there is a particularly active workout in programme 6 thanks to activation of the torso muscles.

One challenge during the realisation of the ENERGIZING massage function was to develop the pneumatic system, whose pump must not only be powerful for the available installation space, but also quiet and very durable. Individual inflation and deflation of the 14 air chambers is controlled by solenoid valves.

Like the lumbar support, multicontour and dynamic functions of the seat, the ENERGIZING massage function is controlled via COMAND Online. A function key in the centre console gives direct access to the control menu for the seat functions. The Mercedes-Benz active multicontour seat (multicontour, massage function and dynamic adaptation) has the EGR seal of approval.

VI. Under the microscope: seat production - In-house seat production to the highest quality standards

Mercedes-Benz is one of the few car manufacturers not to have the seats produced by a supplier, rather producing them in-house for the E and S-Class. "If we want to have top quality and durability, and at the same time lead the field in new functions such as the ENERGIZING massage function on the hot-stone principle, we must also have the necessary production know-how," says Henry Wunderlich. The 49 year-old is the production manager for Daimler seat manufacture in Böblingen, near Stuttgart.

This is where around 600 employees produce the seats for the E and S-Class on a two-shift basis. This is no easy task in view of the enormous variation, for in the case of the E-Class, customers around the world are able to order around 360,000 seat variants. The new S-Class even exceeds this number of available variants by a wide margin. Hardly one S-Class seat is like another, thanks to the wide range of leather and colour combinations, numerous seat models, varying features and country-specific differences.

The production of seating systems is a sophisticated and demanding combination of skilled craftsmanship and the very latest production technology. This is shown, for example, by the great care taken when fastening the seat covers, which are also hand-sewn in the case of "designo" upholstery. Thin metal rods are inserted into special tabs in the seat cover, then clipped in place on the seat structure. This creates the contouring typical of Mercedes, combined with a positive climatic effect and outstanding comfort. "Not everybody can do this," says Wunderlich, and points out that the job profile has changed considerably: "We used to employ mainly upholsterers, but the job description nowadays is 'specialist in automotive interior equipment'. This is because the number of electronic and pneumatic components in seats has increased enormously in recent years, requiring the appropriate specialist knowledge in production."

The electronic components include the restraint systems, the electric seat adjustments and other comfort functions such as seat heating, dynamic multicontour seat or the massage and heating elements. The shopfloor is earthed, and for quality reasons the personnel wear anti-static working shoes.

The overall impression of modern seat manufacture is that of car production in miniature: the seats are not assembled in production bays as previously, but rather "just in sequence" as a line operation. At the four production lines for the S-Class - two for front seats (right- and left-hand drive versions) and two for rear seats (cushion and backrest lines) - there are circulating tables that are movable and ergonomically adjustable. At various stations the personnel complete the seats on these tables. Hydraulic carriers and height-adjustable assembly facilities assist the process, and several changes of station per shift to avoid monotony is a matter of course.

The tightening torque for the bolts of the sidebag is even recorded electronically: "This means that even years later, we can show that the seat left here in perfect condition," says Wunderlich. During the final inspection at the end of the line, the seats must show that they meet the highest visual expectations and that all the functions work perfectly. When the seats finally leave the line, they have passed though up to 50 stations.

On the loading conveyor belt in the middle of the assembly shop, the front and rear seats are "married together" and loaded onto transport pallets, so that they can be delivered to the S-Class production lines just in time and in first-class quality.













Credits: Daimler AG

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