It had to happen – a car company wanting its own take on the Apple store concept. It also probably had to be Audi that got there first.

The first of 20 worldwide stores opens today close to Piccadilly in London. As Audi has a model range so large that even an Ikea store would struggle to show it all, the idea is that any model can be created and personalised on giant screens, which show the car at a scale of 1:1 – so the image is the same size as the real car. It also means individual aspects of the car can be shown in detail, such as how the traction control works (or maybe just how to use the increasingly complex infotainment system).

"Audi City combines the best of two worlds – digital product presentation and personal contact with the dealer," says Peter Schwarzenbauer, Audi's head of Marketing. "This new retail format brings us even closer to our customers – geographically, of course, but first and foremost in terms of the quality of our relationship. Audi City offers new freedom for tailor-made services and an even more individual contact with the customer."

Audi also says that the stores will be used "as a dialogue forum for issues outside of core automotive business." This means evening readings, round-table discussions and exhibitions. How about the following discussion topic: "When trying to appear cosmopolitan and well-educated, why do corporations use illiterate management-speak, thus demonstrating exactly the opposite"?