Driving Seat is the brainchild of consumer goods marketer Sandy Muir and ex-racing driver Graham Clarke and says it has agreements with "three major dealer groups listed in the AM100".
The service costs £250 and if a driver buys one of the vehicles the fee is taken off the purchase price of the car. Vehicles are supplied and delivered by the three retail groups. Driving Seat believes potential customers will be willing to pay the fee for the opportunity to test drive the cars in one location and away from public roads.
"We have sought to eliminate the major negatives in the buying process, in favour of a format that is both positive and fun," says Muir. "In creating Driving Seat, we have tried to offer the equivalent of a modern retail experience – range, service, convenience, and value. We think of it as the equivalent of speed dating for car buyers."
Customers can choose up to four cars from different categories, such as executive class or 4x4 range, but are not able to select cars from different groups. Makes available include Audi, BMW, Jaguar, Mercedes-Benz, Volvo and VW. There are plans to increase the number of brands – the company is in talks with a number of retailers – although this is unlikely to extend to cars with a list price below £15,000.
Due to be launched on November 27, the service will initially be available at three locations in the South – Longcross and Dunsford Park in Surrey and Millbrook in Bedfordshire. Further locations will be added next year, including Bruntingthorpe, Aintree, Elvington in North Yorks, Llandow in Wales and Prodrive in Warwicks.
Driving days are to be held weekly – mainly on Saturdays, with driving time typically about 90 minutes. The company is in discussion with a number of leasing groups as it looks to extend the service to company car drivers.