It’s a bit hard to define exactly what Autostadt – which sprawls over a 70-acre site next to Volkswagen’s massive factory in Wolfsburg, Germany – is. For example, the website describes it, somewhat grandly, as a "journey into the world of mobility".
No, I’m not quite sure what that means either. So how would I define it? Well, imagine a slightly off mash-up between a car museum, a manufacturer experience centre, a theme park, a motor show and an expo site, all fused together with some slick presentation and a slightly surreal sheen. Okay, it’s not a very catchy description, but I think it works.
I had a quick tour round Autostadt on a recent trip to VW and it was hard not to be impressed by the scope of the place. Exhibits in the GroupForum try to place the car in a wider context, including a huge ‘Level Green’ exhibit focused on sustainability (which, given VW’s recent history, comes across as a little too self-serving).
Each VW Group brand gets its own pavilion, which contains a motor show-esque celebration of the brand's heritage and new models. Then there are the huge AutoTerme towers, where new cars are stacked up ready for collection by customers.
But, for me, the absolute jewel of Autostadt – and one that makes it a worthy visit for car enthusiasts – is the Zeithaus design museum. It contains a fascinating and well-curated collection of significant cars – and not just VW Group brands. It's a collection of cars that helped advance the industry, set new standards or just look utterly amazing.
Want some examples? Easy – I picked out some of the finest cars in the Zeithaus, along with other highlights from Autostadt, and stuck them into a gallery. Click here to check it out.