Can That New Car Smell Last Forever? Meet the In-Car Fragrance Diffuser

Car Fragrance Diffuser

Dang this car smells good.

Dear Mercedes-Benz,

Oh, how you have captured my heart. Nothing leaves an impression of an experience or reminds me of a great time like a fabulous fragrance.

It might be bayberry and coconut from a day at the beach, or the white tea and cedar of an elegant soiree, or the jasmine and bamboo of an elegant dressing room. 

Or it might be the essence of a new car, its unfouled leather, fresh carpets and cool, crisp ventilation that makes a girl feel privileged and refined.

But alas, a few spilled coffees and sweaty spin classes later, that new smell is gone.

Until now. I’ve met the in-car diffuser.

Mercedes-Benz Car Fragrance Diffuser

Dang this car smells good. The designer interior of the Mercedes-Benz GLC300 is accented by the built in fragrance diffuser. Photo: Scotty Reiss

Yes, this Mercedes-Benz has an in-car fragrance diffuser, and the possibilities are heavenly

I recently had the opportunity to test drive the Mercedes-Benz GLC300 4Matic Coupe. It was exciting to check out this four-door hatchback crossover coupe, a smallish car that is roomy, sexy and capable, and outfitted with some of the best features Mercedes-Benz has to offer. I expected that.

What I didn’t expect was a fragrance diffuser.

When I picked up the car and drove home, I noticed the scent. At first I thought the person who last drove it was wearing too much cologne.

The next day I wondered if he’d sprayed himself in the car; the interior still smelled pretty strongly—a little masculine with citrus and wood notes, but nice. But I quickly became enthralled with other features of the GLC and forgot about the fragrance. Until the third day. That was when I went digging around in the glove box for the Monroney and found this.

A diffuser. With a Mercedes-Benz fragrance called Freeside Mood.

Car Fragrance Diffuser

The diffuser is housed in the glove box where it’s out of the way; a bottle of fragrance can last a year or so. Photo: Scotty Reiss

The diffuser and the fragrances available are created by a woman named Sabine Engelhardt, the Mercedes-Benz in-house futurist who led the automaker to create an olfactory experience, recognizing that fragrance is a key part of how we value and remember experiences.

Mercedes has several other fragrances, each capturing a slice of life, from sporty to hipster to nightlife.

This is the Mercedes-Benz GLC300 that delighted us with the fragrance diffuser

Missed Opportunity: A Fragrance bar, please!

I was curious to test out the other fragrances, but was disappointed to find that I’d have to buy them first, at least from my local Mercedes-Benz dealer.

I went by to see if they had testers of the other fragrances and found probably the biggest missed opportunity in auto sales: They did not. The sales greeters sent me to the service department, who sent me to the parts department where I could buy one of the fragrances for $130. The gentleman working in parts offered to open them first before I bought one, but I declined. I was just shopping, not buying.

I’m used to (and really like) the try-before-you-buy process at Saks Fifth Avenue or Sephora, where I can test out fragrances and take home a sample tab to see if I still like it a few hours later. That’s what I was hoping to experience at the Mercedes-Benz dealership, though I did get a free carwash, which made me happy.

Mercedes-Benz Car Fragrance Diffuser

The selections of fragrance available from Mercedes-Benz span different lifestyles, from sporty to elegant to hip. Photo: Scotty Reiss

Nothing smells great like a clean car. Our tips to getting that kind of clean

Can you customize the in-car fragrance? Maybe

I have to admit, I didn’t love the scent of Freeside Mood. It’s a little masculine for me and a bit stronger than I like. However, I appreciate a crisp, clean fragrance for the car. I don’t want a heavy or musky scent in the closed environment of my car.

I’d really love to pick my own fragrance though. I already regularly add a few drops of Nest’s Bamboo room fragrance to a cotton ball and place it under the front seat for a subtle bit of heaven in the car, though it would be nicer if it were part of the ventilation system.

I tried opening the bottle of Freeside Mood to see if I could replace the oil with my own. While there is a seal on the side of the bottle, it did not easily open. I’m sure I’d be able to figure out how to open the bottle and replace the oil.

Need more than a diffuser in your car? Here are 18 fun car accessories under $20

Or, DIY In Car Fragrance

You can also buy a fragrance diffuser for the car, a bit of jewelry for $10 or so, a lot less than the $350 Air Balance Package on the Mercedes-Benz, which also includes an air purification system. But, I don’t like extra stuff in my car; I like my car to come with all the necessities already installed. And, I like that the Mercedes-Benz diffuser is hidden away in the glove compartment, sublimely infusing the cabin with eau de belle vie. Dang, this car smells good.Mercedes-Benz Car Fragrance Diffuser New Car Smell

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Journalist, entrepreneur and mom. Expertise includes new cars, family cars, 3-row SUVs, child passenger car seats and automotive careers... More about Scotty Reiss