If you’ve been eyeing a certain Audi on the street or on the Internet but aren’t quite ready to make the trek to a dealership, head over to Audi City, the automaker’s foray into digitally enhanced showrooms.
Audi City showrooms are compact, allowing the automaker to build a presence in high-cost urban areas -- the first location opens in London near Piccadilly Circus. Audi City allows potential customers to get familiar with the cars’ powertrain and equipment options. The stores also have paint, wood, and leather samples to view and touch in person. Additionally, Audi City features large screens that display the cars on a 1:1 scale, including 360-degree views of a vehicle’s exterior and interior. Customer service reps can answer questions and arrange a test drive at a dealership when you’re ready to take the next step.
Beyond car shopping, Audi also imagines Audi City as a place where owners can go for post-purchase questions. Fans could also use the stores to hold group meetings and other events. Audi plans to open 20 locations by 2015.
Other manufacturers are also exploring unconventional dealership experiences. Tesla Motors, for example, recently opened a retail showroom at a mall in Southern California where customers can get info and speak to product specialists about models such as the Model S.