Does it work? Mercedes’ relaxation system
NOW THIS IS something a little bizarre to be doing while driving: vigorous muscle stretches. Mercedes’ Energizing Comfort system, which first debuted on the S-Class, interconnects various functions in the cockpit such as the air-con, fragrancing, audio and seat heating/cooling/massage functions to help boost the comfort of its occupants or even change their mood. Depending on which Mercedes you have, there are up to six programmes: Freshness, Warmth, Vitality, Joy, Comfort and Training. That’s Training as in a personal trainer of sorts: a voice suggesting muscle-stretching techniques to activate, relax or bring ‘balance’ to your body. We tested it using an AMG E53 Coupe fitted with Freshness and Vitality programmes that tweaked the fragrance, audio and airflow, plus Training. (The car wasn’t fitted with massaging seats, without which you can’t get the Joy and Comfort programmes.)
Freshness certainly wakes you up; the vents intermittently blast cold air like a gusty wind (not all that welcome on an already chilly autumn morning) accompanied by a heavy spritz of the in-car fragrance, while Vitality plays high-bpm music. (In a car with massaging and cooling seats, Vitality would deploy both to provide even more invigoration.)
The Training tutorials are 10 minutes long, with a prim-and-proper female voice actor starting off by warning you to remain in control of the car, to not get distracted and to stop the workout at any time if your drive requires it. That’s Merc’s backside covered. Now to relax your backside. The voice tells you to tense certain body parts, from your neck and shoulders right down to your buttocks, and then release the tension, allowing you to revel in that chilled feeling. But some of these techniques are a little odd to perform in transit, like raising your shoulders to your ears, or tensing a single butt cheek.
All the while the firm voice assistant insists that ‘you are now feeling the sensation of relaxation’ more than enough times in 10 minutes for it to wear thin fast and potentially ruin your chances of achieving the relaxed feeling you’re chasing.
When the car isn’t moving the screen displays graphics showing the movements being described, meaning it may be more beneficial to do this kind of thing if you’re stuck in traffic. As long, that is, as you don’t mind other road users gawping at you as you do the driver’s equivalent of the downward-facing dog in an M4 tailback.
E53 is comfortable and energizing; yoga instruction an answer to a question nobodywas asking