Welcome to the future of luxury car dealerships

Sprawling pockets of land on large blocks have typified Australian car dealerships. But just as the cars are changing so are the lavish facilities created to sell them.

Luxury brands are increasingly turning to smaller, more intimate surroundings that give a glimpse into the brand in high profile locations.

Manufacturers as diverse as Porsche and Subaru have trialled pop-ups in shopping centres, for example.

And the shopping experience is fast evolving into one that involves bringing cars to the people, rather than forcing them to a dealership.

It's born partly from high real estate prices that make the traditional dealer model unsustainable in heavily populated areas, but also from time-poor consumers who are changing the way they shop – and the way they spend their downtime.

Bondi pad for Jaguar and Land Rover

Next door to the Apple store in a major Sydney shopping centre makes up one of the boldest car dealerships in Australia.

Such shopping stores are common in Europe – as anyone who's strolled the Champs Elysees in Paris knows – and Asia, with Tesla dabbling with the concept in Australia.

Now there's a new Jaguar and Land Rover store, which is not only about showcasing cars, but giving an insight into the brand.

Just two cars will be on display in what is a large shop but a small car showroom.

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Demonstrators will be on hand for those wanting a test drive and the facility can be a base for servicing.

And it's just the beginning, with local managing director Matthew Wiesner all but confirming there would be similar stores in Victoria and Queensland.

"If you look at, say, Melbourne, if you look at South East Queensland and other places you'd have to say that a similar concept would make sense in those locations as well," says Wiesner.

More for Me

Not to be outdone, Mercedes-Benz is unleashing its Mercedes Me concept on Australia.

Within weeks the first Australian Mercedes Me store – and only the seventh in the world – will fling its doors open in the Rialto towers in Melbourne's CBD.

Based around Melbourne's coffee culture, the facility is more about a decent day out in town than buying cars. You'll be able to grab a decent brew and something to chew.

But there will also be a car or two on display and experts on hand for those wanting to learn more about the brand.

Like so many of the new dealer concepts it's more about the lifestyle but also incorporates a boardroom and theatrette.

Hotting up with AMG

Come December Mercedes-Benz will have its first standalone AMG dealership at the entrance to Sydney's domestic airport terminal.

To be called AMG Sydney, you'll still see the three-pointed star logo, but the emphasis is very much on the AMG performance sub-brand.

That could include the A45, E63, AMG GT or the outrageous G63 off-roader.

Fleshing out the floorspace could be one of the brand's older F1 machines or the GT3 race car that helps promote the track-focused brand.

Corporate communications manager Jerry Stamoulis says it's about promoting the brand and leveraging the highly trafficked location.

"Considering AMG is 20 percentage of our volume it's an important part of our business," he says.

Porsche to hit the road

Porsche's newest dealership experience is about to hit the road – or track.

Plans for a roving showroom are afoot, with the first to be part of this month's Main Street Mornington Festival an hour out of Melbourne.

It's been referred to as a pop-up but Porsche is calling it an "experimental roadshow".

The tour will travel the country as a way to showcase everything from the Macan SUV to the 911.

The mobile showroom will also include demonstrations and the chance for people to experience the Porsche range.

Take the pressure down

Apple has the Genius Bar, BMW has genii. Or, more correctly, Product Geniuses.

While the look of the dealership hasn't changed, the company has at least one "genius" in each dealership.

Their aim is to inform and educate people but not sell. In fact, they can't sell – instead they introduce would-be customers to sales people when it comes time to crunch a deal.

It's all about reducing the pressure that so many people hate with new car dealerships and introducing them to a vast range, much of it bubbling with technology.

Electric stuff for Tesla

That low pressure environment is part of the Tesla sales pitch, too.

Taking a leaf out of the Silicon Valley textbook, the fledgling electric car brand refers to the places where it sells cars as stores, not dealerships.

The environment in the six Australian stores is low pressure, allowing the much-hyped tech to do the talking.

As well as the cars Tesla has displays for its home energy setups, which include solar panels and batteries.

Virtual reality

The main reason dealerships are so big is because the cars they're selling are among the largest consumer items we buy.

Little wonder car makers are looking to the digital world for solutions.

Online configurators are common on manufacturer websites.

And they're getting bigger in dealerships, with Audi one of the most advanced with its Audi Customer Private Lounges, which take the configurator to the next level.

The ultimate aim is for full virtual reality complete with VR goggles that allow buyers to at least partially sample their car before they slap down a deposit.

The fit out

It's not just the logo that creates a brand space: just ask Ferrari.

Heritage and consistency are key to any Ferrari dealership. Whether you're in New York, Milan or Sydney they'll have the same Poltrona Frau sofas and Italian marble tiles.

But Ferrari dealerships are evolving to meet customer desires, most of which are well heeled and enjoy the finer things.

Often that will be outside the dealership itself; perhaps an intimate dinner or a trip to the Singapore Grand Prix. Or maybe a hosted night to watch the latest F1 race.

It's all about embracing the Ferrari family.

Click and drive

The now-gone Smart brand pioneered online car sales in Australia, with Subaru following with its BRZ sports car, something it has since expanded.

These days it's Tesla leading the online push.

Expect online sales to grow, but as with a new pair of shoes or jeans most buyers will want to see the car wrapped around them at some stage before they splash their cash.

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