“This is the new Audi R8, as you can see its a V10 plus.. Very powerful machine” says the lady in a very deep German accent. 15 minutes into my tour and I had forgotten her name, she works at VW’s Group Forum right across the street from our hotel. A note of concern starts creeping into her relaxed voice, augmented by rivulets of sweat crisscrossing her brow as she suggests we move onto the striking blue Lamborghini. To calm her, I reiterate that my scope of work covers technology at most, the cars are just an adorn bonus. She laughs, and mentions something about how she always seem to mess up the numbers and performance bits on these fine German art pieces.
But I can tell she is a pro, simply by the way she caresses the body of the Bentley oh-so flawlessly ensuring not to leave any prints behind. They like it when you touch the cars, its an interactive exhibition after all. But she dislikes finger marks, so do I. We’re not allowed to sit in the cars though, this of course to preserve their world class state. I am not the only one taking advantage of this rare oasis of petrol and horse power as almost every visitor in this grand establishment has a British or American accent.
How did I end up surrounded by these shimmering cars, an original Dakar Amarok, and over 6000 horse powers of every possible description? My quest began earlier this month when myself and a few fellow tech journalists ventured onto a week long visit to Berlin, which plays homage to Europe’s biggest tech trade show.
Drive. Volkswagen Group Forum is the German automaker’s temple (as one yelp user calls it) with lots of amazing cars (both real and miniature ones for collection) on the edge of modern technology. I found out, by accident, that the exhibition was aptly adjacent the main entrance of our hotel during our stay in Berlin. Here, one can check out cars, drink coffee in the Drive cafe while waiting for your curywurst and order a test drive. Porsche, Audi, Bugatti to name a few – 12 brands all together – share the 4000m2 floor on the corner of Friedrichstrasse.
Thirty four heart racing minutes later and as we roll into the wrap-up of the tour, its clear that the party’s coda is merely a prelude to the next chapter in Volkswagen innovation. New friendships have been forged and my old with the Beetle renewed, and the energy in the room underscores VW Group’s most impressive achievement: making people pour their hearts (and coffee) and souls into metal and glass until it’s transformed into something more. Until it’s family.