One of the highlights of the new BMW 7 Series is the so-called Executive Lounge Seating option. This is not to be confused with the Executive Lounge rear console option which is the permanent centre tunnel you see in the image above that goes in between the two rear seats.
What the Executive Lounge Seating option does is upgrade the rear seats to be able to recline up to an angle of 42.5 degrees as well as provide a button which automatically pushes the front seats forward by 90 mm as well as angles it forward to maximise legroom.
Naturally there will be comparisons done to the 7-Series’ arch-enemy the S-Class. The S-Class also provides a similiar option called the Executive Seat package. Like the 7-Series, the option to specify the most versatile seats that can recline up to 43.5 degrees is separate from the option to have the permanent centre console.
The Malaysian spec S400 L Hybrid has the Executive Seat package without the permanent centre console. Basically what the centre console does in both cars is just offer more storage space for things like a fold-out table and fancies equipment such as heated/chilled cupholders. We took the opportunity to compare what the two luxo-barges have to offer in terms of rear seating.
This is the rear quarters of the 7 Series in ‘lounge mode’. At the touch of a ‘shortcut’ button, the rear seat basically reclines, while the front passenger seat moves forward as well as folds forward to maximise legroom. Your own seat also reclines at the same time to settle into a more relaxed position.
With the previous generation 7 Series, BMW used a portable triangle shaped ottoman on the floor to act as a foot rest but with the new one, a much larger ottoman footrest folds down from the back of the front seats. On the previous generation car, this area was used to fit an optional work table that you could fold up – the table is now stored in the optional permanent centre tunnel.
The new setup works better because the new table is more usable because effectively it will be closer to you, and the new foot rest feels a lot more substantial compared to the portable ottoman.
Mercedes-Benz has the same one-touch ‘shortcut’ button concept implemented here – just hold down the button and both your seat and the front seat moves into the lounge position.
As you can see, Mercedes-Benz implements the ottoman quite differently. The ottoman is attached to your seat base instead, and lifts up to support your legs in lounge mode. After it flips up, you can also extend it forward a little if you wish. There is also a small little foot rest attached to the front passenger seat that extends out as well.
The BMW implementation is better since you don’t have to retract the ottoman to enter and exit the car. You can just immediately bring your feet back down whenever you want as the floor just below your seat is always clear. However, the Mercedes implementation has the advantage of supporting your entire leg instead of leaving your thighs unsupported in the BMW implementation.
Top: G11 wing mirror blocked by front passenger headrest in Executive Lounge position
Bottom Left: W222 wing mirror blocked, Bottom Right: W222 front passenger headrest removed
The 7 Series lounge mode has a big issue though – the one touch button automatically folds the front headrest down, supposedly to give the rear passenger a clearer view of what is happening up front. The rear entertainment screen automatically adjusts its angle appropriately.
This however causes a problem for the driver – the position that the headrests settles in completely obstructs the passenger side wing mirror. I wouldn’t recommend leaving the headrest like this in actual usage because it’s dangerous. In my opinion the passenger side wing mirror is a vital driving aid for the driver and should not be sacrificed for something as trivial as giving the boss a clearer view of what’s going on in front.
The same thing happens in the Mercedes-Benz but there is a simple mechanism that allows you to remove the front passenger seat headrest. A warning message will flash in the instrument cluster to remind you to do this. Once the headrest is removed, the driver will have a completely unobstructed view of the passenger side wing mirror. BMW should think about implementing this in the facelift.
Both cars have had their rear seat massage features upgraded significantly, and both seats have massage programs that feature heating. The massage ‘pulses’ are now more precise and ‘punchier’ – they clearly have a more ‘next generation’ to them compared to massage seat implementations in many other cars that seem outdated now.
Both interiors feature ambient lighting extensively but the 7 Series takes it up a notch with the option of a soft glow light integrated into the B pillar as well and a rear sunroof that can feature lighting as well. Both offer a ‘luxury’ headrest featuring an additional fancy pillow. The comfort of the Mercedes-Benz headrest pillow just edges out the BMW one, but Munich comes really close.
Both cars route their rear seatbelts through loops but while the S-Class loop is fixed, the BMW loop is leather and can be detached with a button so you can reposition it for better comfort if you like. The BMW seat belt is mounted slightly higher up compared to the Mercedes-Benz so if you’re a tall person the BMW seat belt might be more comfortable for you as there’s less chance of it digging into your shoulder.
Other than the obviously different implementation of the ottoman we discussed earlier, both seats also offer significantly different adjustability. The recline feature aside, you can adjust the upper half of the BMW’s rear seat backrest independently from the bottom half. This feature exclusive to the Rear Comfort Seat option significantly improves upper back support by a huge margin. The Mercedes-Benz S-Class rear seats doesn’t have this feature but instead adds on a feature not found on the BMW – adjustable side bolsters.
So there you have it – both the top of the range seats for the S Class and 7 Series compared based on the experiences I’ve had with both. Of course, remember that my take on the S Class rear seats are based on the high spec seats offered in the Malaysian spec S400L Hybrid. For the 7 Series, we don’t quite know yet which rear seat option will be offered in our Malaysian spec cars.