I’ve long been a fan of Mercedes-Benz World, the giant showroom/museum/test track that pays homage to the history of Daimler cars from yesteryear through to the latest range of cars that you can inspect, spec, purchase and collect on the premises.
In my view, its biggest success is offering up enough to keep anyone of any age interested, be it by ogling at tyre-smoking demo runs, marvelling at the art installation of a dissected Formula 1 car or simply drinking a large cup of posh coffee while admiring a Smart Forfour.
However, it’s a fact that – in the UK at least – Mercedes-Benz World is a unique asset, and I’ve no doubt that is because it was both monumentally expensive to build and remains so now to maintain. Where Mercedes sees a value, I guess others don’t, which is a real shame because whatever you do, touch, see or smell at the place is acutely on-brand. People who go in curious tend to come out as converts, and that must pay dividends for Mercedes sales in the long-term.
However, just because such places don’t exist in the UK doesn’t mean they do not exist elsewhere - normally close to the centre of where the cars are built. I’ve been to BMW’s museum in Munich and the Mercedes-Benz one in Stuttgart, for instance, both of which are mightily impressive. Then, while on holiday in Paris last month, wandering down the Champs-Elysees, my eyes fell on a tall, colourful glass-fronted building bearing the Citroen chevrons that I wasn’t previously aware of.