You know how certain smells leave a lasting impression, smells from Subway or Rotiboy are so distinct that you recognize the smell a good 50 metres away before you even see the stores. You can say the same about a new car too!
It's part of the unique new car experience and really does send a message to the brain that the car rolled off the factory not too long ago. It's not really a fresh smell but definitely one that gives off the vibe that your car is brand spanking new.
The smell is a combination of many things, but mainly the new car smell is caused by organic compounds used by manufacturers to build the vehicle. For Audi, however, they would like to make it publicly known that they take car smell seriously because they have this unique bunch of people who test the scents of their cars.
These select group of people are called the Audi Nose Team, and their sole purpose of existence is to make sure that Audis smell good for the lifetime of the car - no wonder Audi interiors are the best of the best aye. In existence since 1985, this team of five operate out of Audi's main quality centre in Bavaria and grade different materials and chemicals used inside Audis to make their interior smells as neutral as possible.
The tests are done with scores that scale from one to six and to pass their sensitive noses; materials must be four or less as apparently five or six are irritating. You'd think only things like leather and cloth would be tested but not at Audi, because odourless materials such as glass and metal also get tested by this unique team.
From time to time, this team will also do spot checks and pull up random Audi cars to test whether the smell of the car is up to their standard - talk about olfaction! Should they not, the team will look to make changes in the manufacturing process to ensure the issue does not persist.
Heiko Lüßmann-Geiger, a member of the Audi Nose Team has previously said that he believes a car's interior smell is an important part of an ownership experience.
"At the tip of this hierarchy pyramid is the well-being of the customer, right at the base is the smell. If the customer is now irritated by this odour from below, he will no longer correctly perceive all the other positive comfort properties of the vehicle. He is too irritated by the stress brought about by the odour," says Lüßmann-Geiger.
On a side note and away from the impressive Audi Nose Team, have you ever wondered why most European car interiors smell like crayons? In cars that were manufactured before the last 5 years, the crayon smell is probably due to the insulation of the vehicle. Especially in our blazing hot sun, the smell can be apparent due to the release of odor from the waxy coating on the insulation. People used to say it was the leather, well it was but also the combination of the insulation smell.
How good is your nose?