SPAIN: Making European Kias smell right
A car interior does not only have to look good and sound good, it has to smell right as well.
This is all part of the attention to detail by South Korean carmaker Kia aimed at making sure its Ceed models are perceived as totally European.
This includes 'smell-testing' interior components to ensure that the cabin is pleasing to the European nose.
David Labrosse from the product planning department at Kia's European research and development centre in Germany, said: "When the Ceed was being developed we discovered while working with our Korean colleagues that they were attuned to different smells from us.
"The European nose is quite different from the Korean. We like different smells so we had to develop odours for the interior of the car that were pleasing to Europeans."
So just what is pleasing to the European nose? The smell of a Parisienne café, an English garden or perhaps a Munich beer cellar?
None of the above. Labrosse added: "Actually it's a lot more neutral than that and difficult to quantify, but it just smells right."
To achieve the right smell the process is hardly high-tech. "We just put materials or component in a glass jar, seal them and leave for a few days. Then we sniff it," said Labrosse.
"If we don't like the smell we try and find the cause of the problem by breaking the materials down and cooking them to find out where the wrong odour is coming from.
"Whenever you are mixing materials, plastics, glues and resins there is always a chemical reaction and it's our job to ensure that the end product has a pleasing scent."
Koreans are also attuned to different sounds, according to Labrosse and 'hear' acoustic qualities such as the exhaust note or even a door closing, differently to Europeans.
Similarly with colours, for Koreans a glossy, smooth surface is a sign of quality while we prefer a matt finish and a soft touch.
One thing we are in tune with each other is leather which has to smell like, well, leather which, bizarrely has to be made to smell like leather.
Labrosse said: "By the time you have finished treating leather to make sure it is resistant to tears, stains and exposure to the sun it doesn't smell like leather at all - so we have to spray with an artificial scent."