The newest addition to this esteemed group is the stone interiors offered by Bentley, through its coach-building operation Mulliner. Slate and quartzite are shipped in from various regions in India, cuts 0.1mm thick slices from the slabs, and work them in with a resin to create veneers for the dash and other interior accents. It would be revolutionary– if Mercedes-Benz had not offered almost the same thing as far back as 2005.
Speaking of Merc’ and ridiculous features, probably one of the most perplexing is the Cabin Fragrance system. This little LED-backlit pod basically features perfume that it will atomize and spread throughout the cabin. Luckily it comes as a standard feature, but replacing one costs $115. We’ll stick with the little tree air fresheners handing from the rear-view.
Infiniti Forest Air
The Forest Air feature randomizes the fan speed of the climate control in order to replicate a casual breeze. This is still one of the best because it was Infiniti’s first real swipe at “OK other automakers are doing absurd features, what’ve we got?” And their best answer was to put the climate control fan on “random.” Compared to the Mercedes perfume system, it seems almost normal.
Dog Travel Sack
Had this feature arrived in 2016, PETA would have a collective aneurism, but it actually debuted in a 1935 issue of Popular Mechanics. The leather sack had a hole for the dog’s head, and the bottom clamps to the running board (from when cars had running boards) and the top hooks on to the window sill. The great irony is that the dog would probably love the unfettered access to road wind.
BMW Gentleman Function
No, this feature does not automatically hail an escort. Apparently, this feature allows the driver to control the front passenger seat, so you can be a gentleman and set her seat without actually getting out of yours. The feature came out in 2009, however its inherent chauvinism feels like this feature came out 50 years too late.
Cadillac Electric Cupholder
The American luxury brand Cadillac has been on a role in the last 15 years, turning into a very relevant player. As this list has shown, being a major player means occasionally offering an utterly useless and inherently superfluous feature from time to time. In this case, the 2014 Cadillac CTS has an electronically retracting cover for the front cupholders. There is something that screams “American Luxury!” about this kind of power being used on such a mundane feature.
Where Rolls-Royce stands out among automakers is how how some aspects of the vehicle, namely the interior, still takes an old-world approach. Just look at how a craftsman approaches book-matching, which is where extremely thin veneers are taken two at time and installed opposite each-other to get a symmetrical pattern throughout the car.
Oh, and according to Rolls-Royce, if you opt for this service and you nick or scratch one part of the veneer, the entire series of veneers can be removed and replaced with fresh veneers of the same tree that they keep in their book-matching library. Seriously.