I had heard about Audi City and as I’m sure many others have I have looked through the Windows while I sat in traffic on the run into Piccadilly circus. When I received an invitation to a special event for the launch of the the A3 I wasn’t about to turn down the offer to see the inside of this intriguing facility. The event was for the launch of the new Audi A3 but served also as an opportunity for Audi to demonstrate the concept of what may well be the future of car dealerships.
We better start with the A3, and what this new car means to both Audi and its customers. The car has had what would be fair to say is a mixed review from the existing customer base from purely aesthetic point of view as most will not have driven one yet. The comment that has most been prevalent has been “it looks like a slightly larger A1″ well yes the A3 does take on some of the styling of the A1 it does when you look at it you start to see many of the key stylist features that have been set as the iconic lines of the A3. Audi as with all branding and styling houses want to keep a commonality to it’s products and it’s only natural that as just with the changes that have come before with new revisions of models common themes such as headlights and lines. Change is always a difficult thing for people to accept this is even more true with object that have a personal or emotional attachment for people and there are fewer things that combine all of these feeling as a car. The Audi A3 both in the 8L and 8P have been very popular with there respective owners and even still there is great debate between the owners over which is the better. This I think is a great sign of how good Audi has been at getting these versions of what is a very loved car so right. It is there for only natural that feeling toward the new contender could be a little strained at first.
I have to confess that I do in fact own a 8P 2.0 Tdi that I have become quite attached to it. Having owned and driven many of the best offerings from Audi it’s a car that has become a firm favourite and considering the family connections with the MK5 VW golf (which I have also owned) it is a much better car. So with this in mind and all of the comments about the new A3 I went to the event not sure what I was going to make of the car.
The showroom is a great place to look at a car and even better when you are there by invitation rather than just a punter off the street. You get to have a real good look at the car and no ones going to get a little worried when you start pulling it apart or at least they are going to pretend not to be. I spent the first 10 to 20 minutes just trying to size things up. It was silver and unlike most cars that I seem to go near incredibly clean, I know this is an obvious statement for a brand new launch car in a show room but it was just the lack of dirt it was also the lines. The Audi designers have accentuated the styling of the car down to just a few lines and the longer you look at the car the more your eyes are drawn to them. There is the roof line that leads back to the roof spoiler that makes your eyes follow down to the unmistakable C pillar of the older A3s. The second line that runs down the side of the car and is carried into the rear lights and round. The final lines really sets the stance of the car travel along the doors and the sills giving the car a nose down appearance that also seem to keep the car in motion when still. Being that the car was silver in the bright lights if the showroom the appearance of these lines may have taken long to sink in and I’m sure that in natural daylight the shadows and reflections would make the clever use of these stand out. Now in general I don’t like red cars it’s not a colour that sits well on a lot of cars. It always feels like someone is trying just a little too hard to be noticed or the sake of it. Seeing a red version on the A3 on the other hand was a little be of a revelation. what had been subtle was no longer, it gave the car a whole new character. The silver was nice, safe, clean, and very calm while the red made me look at the car all over again. I want to touch and get in the red car where as I was happy just looking at the silver. I wasn’t the only one, others seemed to have the same feeling about this car by the number that were getting in out of it I’m sure that red will be quite a popular choice until it comes time to order. Strange how we really like a colour but at the last moment opt for the safe option and about such an emotive object as your car.
This is not an 8L or 8P. This is a new and very different car, yet it still holds enough of the same qualities of it predecessors to still be an Audi A3. I’m glad that Audi haven’t just done a face lift to the A3 and while it may take a while for the existing A3 owners to love this as much as their current cars I’m sure that it will happen. I could have rattled on about the all new interior with it’s air vents with 3000 moving parts (ok only 37 i think) but I think this is a car that you need to go and discover for yourselves. I’m sure that with the introduction of the S3 and the other variants A3 has a really bright and good successor in the 8V.
Ok enough about the cars, let get to the show room it’s self. Audi City is the solution to the problem that the car manufactures have with the endless diversification in models and variants. I’m not going to be able to complete justice of the technical or details of Audi City and we will be revisiting it in future articles. There isn’t a show room big enough and even if there was the cost to the deal/importer would be so great that it’s impractical to have all the different possibilities on show. Audi has solved this in part by creating an interactive showroom where there are physical cars but also virtual ones as well. You can select the base model that you are looking at and then alter the trim and colour specs of the car in question. If the car is a convertible you open or close the roof, you can rotate the car or look at the interior. Once you are happy with the configuration the car will drive around the screen and you will be able to hear the note and sound of the exhaust. The system in Audi city can be controlled by either on of the many touch screens that are placed in the show room or via a floor mounted control panel. For me the touch screen was the preferred option but for fun we did have a go with the floor system which did seem a little like playing one of those dance off games on a Xbox 360. Is this a gimmick? is this just another concept? would it make me by a car? well maybe may be not. While I’m not sure you will find a fully blown version of Audi city in every showroom in the country I’m sure that Audi and all the car manufactures are looking at these system very carefully and if not they should. It’s a sales tool and I don’t think replace having a sales person. For people who like to look at the brochure and now want to take that a stage further it’s great fun and for the sales person who has a customer who can’t quite visualise what a colour or trim spec would look like I can see this being a great way to close a sale. Would I buy a car because of it? I don’t think so but it wouldn’t hurt or stop me.
I do hope that over the next 12months we will be able to arrange for members of audi-sport.net to visit the Audi Centre. If you would be interested in coming please click on the link below and fill out the form. We will inform you of the dates and availability for the visits to Audi City. “Click here to register for Audi City events”