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View from the infinitely adjustable seat

I recently tried out the new Mercedes-Benz E Class Coupe and liked it. My butt was particularly impressed.

I recently tried out the new Mercedes-Benz E Class Coupe and liked it. My butt was particularly impressed.

That is one fine seat.

It features a unique sculpted shape, beautiful leather, lovely cross stitching, and 10-way power adjustments for positioning — plus four other power adjustments to make you even more comfortable.

Those extra four dials located on the inboard side of the front seats can inflate and deflate six different bladders; there’s one set for the side bolsters in the seat cushion, another set for the side bolsters in the lower seat back, and two individual ones for lumbar.

Crank up all the bolsters and the seat hugs your backside like a body suit.

The lumbar feature is equally powerful; at one point it may have adjusted my prostate.

Of course, like a lot of luxury car seats, the seats also offer heating and cooling functions. (One of my favourite things to do with unsuspecting passengers in warm weather, is secretly turn their seats to low heat and see if they’re the type that figures it out right away, or the type that just keeps squirming.)

We’ve obviously come a long way, from the bench seats of yore.

I’m not suggesting we go back to those vinyl wonders, but one wonders if the most comfortable, adjustable chair you get to sit in any given day should be the one in the 4,000-pound device that uses premium unleaded? Aren’t we trying to get people out of the car a little bit? And we wonder why people keep choosing the drive-thru at Tim Horton’s, even when it takes longer than the walk-in option.

The other thing that gets me about these infinitely adjustable seats, is that you spend an inordinate time fiddling with the adjustments. With so many settings, you feel that seating utopia is suddenly possible, so you adjust and adjust and adjust … but you never get to that place of backside enlightenment… it’s just a mirage in the desert.

And when you think you’re JUST THERE, ­you make one small adjustment to the recline angle, which begets one more small adjustment to the seat cushion tilt, which begets one more small adjustment in the lumbar, which suddenly makes everything ALL WRONG, which begets you to gnaw the steering wheel.

This exercise reminds me of what you go through when a waiter or waitress tops up your coffee cup. You now have to figure out what precise increments of sugar and cream to add. With no reference point any more it’s all a guessing game — one you usually lose.

But don’t let my seat issues detract from your enjoyment of the continuing evolution of the automotive seat. Please, adjust away!

– Michael Goetz has been writing about cars and editing automotive publications for more than 20 years. He lives in Toronto with his family and a neglected 1967 Jaguar E-type.

 
 
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