Pleasure in the land of the rising sun.
Coffee as an art-form.
In the morning visitors queue up to start their day with this sensual experience. Welcome to the café “Downstairs” on the ground floor of Mercedes-Benz Connection – right in the heart of the Japanese capital Tokyo. Until late into the evening, a colourful mix of Japanese, Western and Asian visitors enjoy the relaxed atmosphere in the entrance area of the experience store. Managers and design students, young women and tourists sip coffee, tea and hot chocolate. They are treated to crusty baguette sandwiches with shrimps and avocado, while surfing the high-speed internet free of charge on their smartphone or tablet – the urban lifestyle, Japanese-style.
First there is the alluring aroma of freshly-ground coffee. Then the barista behind the counter intrigues the eye as he pours milk into the “coffee crema” while drawing a filigree fern-leaf in the surface foam.
The second store has just been opened in Osaka. Its airy architecture exudes modernity and freshness, inviting visitors to stay awhile. A background of quiet Western pop music comes from the loudspeakers, and a pleasant level of air conditioning banishes the humid summer heat. Black-painted pillars characterise the high-class atmosphere, with a sophisticated lighting scheme providing visual highlights: LED lamps behind semi-transparent surfaces light them up in any desired colour. “This living colour scheme reflects our youthful urban attitude,” store manager Daisuke Nakayama explains.
Experiencing automotive culture.
Right in the middle, visitors are able to touch and sit in the current Mercedes-Benz models. “The Japanese have a particularly high appreciation of quality, and respond with great enthusiasm when they encounter it,” store manager Nakayama emphasises. The visitor numbers show that he is right: The Tokyo store received one million visitors in the first eighteen months, and 5000 people visit the new store in Osaka each day. This is largely due to prime inner-city locations, something that has previously been taboo for Japanese car dealers: The “Mercedes-Benz Connection” in Tokyo stands opposite the high-class Tokyo Midtown shopping centre, where luxury cars are a common sight in the street. The store in Osaka is centrally integrated into the brand-new “Grand Front” mega-complex.
Haute cuisine upstairs.
The Michelin Guide has awarded two stars for the French cuisine of head chef Ryuta Iizuka. His restaurant “Upstairs” occupies the upper storey of Mercedes-Benz Connection in Tokyo. At lunchtime creative minds and networking managers order pizza from the wood-fired oven.
While waiting they are able to watch the four white-clad cooks wearing crisply-ironed caps as they go about their concentrated work. During Happy Hour the integrated bar is populated by bankers and designers. Small transmission components are displayed in its illuminated bar-counter.
The taste of A-Class.
The menus are named A, C, E and S according to the Mercedes-Benz model families. As a starter for the “A-Class” menu, for example, Iizuka serves up squid and bamboo shoots in tartare sauce with a light mousse of tomato concentrate. The S-Class menu includes a cake of steamed shiitake mushrooms and grilled Challandais duck’s breast with steamed Lyonnaise potatoes. The Mercedes-Benz parfait consists of jellied passion fruit, caramel mousse, caramelised banana and chocolate sorbet.
Event culture - made in Japan.
In line with their architectural and design theme of the urban lifestyle, the Connection Centers are venues for special events. The opening of the new city store in Tokyo was accompanied by the handover to the first 100 buyers of the A-Class in Japan who had placed their orders long before the launch. On that evening they received the keys for their vehicles, which were lined up awaiting them in the adjacent car park. The most recent highlight event was the exclusive presentation of a wedding collection by the well-known female designer Yumi Katsura.
Eight wedding couples were driven through Roppongi to the event in the Connection Center in a procession of open-top E-Class Coupés.
AMG moves the Japanese.
The exclusive surroundings of the experience stores in Japan especially appeal to fans of Mercedes-AMG. Buyers are able to individualise their vehicle in the dignified ambience of the AMG area. “The Japanese find German craftsmanship fascinating,“ says store manager Nakayama. For many visitors the store experience culminates in a “trial run” or test drive. With a cappuccino in hand, they are able to select their favourites from a selection of models at a touchscreen pillar.
And a little later they can pull down the gullwing doors of an SLS AMG, let the engine growl and set off for a drive as a gourmet experience second to none. Sheer pleasure – made in Japan.