Inside Europe's largest Mini dealership

Inside Europe's largest Mini dealershipBlackball Media

If ever there was a showroom that fitted the modern Mini brand, Sytner Slough Mini is it.

Opened six months ago, the dealership is not only the biggest Mini dealership in the UK - it's the biggest in Europe. "We can fit a maximum of 30 Minis in here," dealer principal Matthew Thorne tells me.> He waves his hand across the enormous selling space. We're standing next to a Mini Inspired by Goodwood.

It's the first time I have seen one of these ultra-exclusive Minis in a dealership and, strangely, it sits quite unremarkably in the glittering showroom.

The £42,000 Mini has been created in conjunction with Rolls-Royce of Goodwood, so there's burr walnut trim from a Phantom, lambswool carpets, cashmere rooflining and dials with Rolls-Royce typography.

Sytner Slough has displayed it with its doors open and the seat belts tied around the armrests to prevent the unworthy stepping in.

"We sold one of these last month," remarks Thorne. "The customer pulled up in a Bentley and bought one just like that," he says as he snaps his fingers. "Quite incredible."

The showroom floor is full with every version of Mini available and in some of the best - and more unusual - trim combinations going.

To the side there's the Mini bar surrounded by seven tables and chairs where customers can grab a coffee, read the papers and log on to the free wi-fi.

Inside Europe's largest Mini dealership

It's backdropped by a Mini timeline wall charting the important moments in the Mini's history. "But let me show you this," says Thorne, a smile creeping across his face.

He leads me to a room just to the corner of the showroom, with windows, subdued lighting and a dozen books on Mini colours, trim specifications and fabric samples.

There's also a television hooked up to the Mini online configurator.

"This is the Mini Lounge and we bring customers in here so they can spend some quiet time choosing their perfect Mini. They can be in here for hours," he explains.

Next door is the Mini boutique and just along from the Mini bar are two glass doors leading into the service bays. "Formula One-style cleanliness is the order of the day here," says Thorne.

But the hygienic qualities of the service bay is not the piece de resistance of Sytner Slough Mini - that is reserved for customers collecting their new Mini.

"We try to get the paperwork all filled in the day before the collection day, so when the customer comes in to pick their car up, they can just enjoy the experience," says Thorne.

Behind two doors that seem to blend into the black Mini corporate decor lies a small room. It looks like the type of anteroom James Bond is shown into before he meets Blofeld or some other flamboyant baddie.

"At this point I would ask you to sit down (he waves at five small chairs upholstered in soft lipstick-red leather with chrome legs) and I'd pour you a glass of non-alcoholic Champagne. The bottle would have your name on in it in the Mini logo. And once you're settled, the show really begins."

Thorne moves to a small control panel near where we came in and almost immediately the wall at the opposite side of the room splits in half. It's another room with a Mini John Cooper Works Paceman sitting there, revolving quickly on a turntable.

There's the sound of applause, funky music and mood lighting. On one of the walls there's a large picture of a bank of photographers; lights flash as if they're taking pictures.

Inside Europe's largest Mini dealership

"Customers are blown away by this," says an enthusiastic Thorne. "We normally have to do it all over again so the customer can film it on their iPhone," he chuckles.

And that's exactly what I ask him to do for me as I search for my phone. "Afterwards the customer is led to their car, they're invited to sit in it and they're shown all of the controls. Our Mini Genie would have already made contact with the customer to find out such things as what their favourite radio stations are, so when they get in the car in this room, the car is already set up to their liking.

"Once the customer is ready, we open the doors and out they drive."

Conversation quickly moves on to the new Mini and how excited he is at launching another generation of a modern classic and his expectations for the year.

"We've only been open six months and we've sold around 170 new cars. This year we'll easily sell 350 new and 400-450 used. I can't wait!"

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