Virtual Test Drives, Taking A Step Further

Nissan have recently put out an interesting twist on the virtual test drive to showcase the forthcoming new model Note. Things start normally enough, but quickly take a turn for the dramatic as a runaway bride / groom hijacks your peaceful test drive and drags you into a pretty spectacular car chase.  There are neat touches of personalisation using Facebook Connect, and some of the technical innovations of the Note are showcased well in the context of a car chase. It’s worth checking out if you have a spare moment – link here.

Virtual test drives are an interesting opportunity for automotive manufacturers – whilst they clearly can’t replace the real deal, they can form an important part of buying consideration and stimulate interest.  

What’s more, as in ‘The Wedding’, they can signpost innovative features and benefits which the prospective buyer will then know to look out for in a real-life test drive. That’s a smart trick to pull off, helping to influence the set of criteria by which you will be eventually be judged.

Hyundai took the concept a step further with an interesting execution in South Africa where a real car was crucial to the virtual experience.  This is a clever way to mix the benefits of a real-world test drive and a virtual one.  Getting hands on with a car is clearly critical to eventual buying decisions, so why not do it as early in the sales funnel as possible?

And this execution from Volkswagen spliced print, mobile and test-drive together – again, to showcase some key features that a prospective buyer may well refer back to later in the sales process.

In each instance, the virtual test drive is clearly intended to draw initial attention to the model and its features.  Unlike a real-world test drive, the virtual requires little commitment from the prospective customer.  They’re one way to bridge the gap between above-the-line advertising and the one-on-one selling of the dealership forecourt, and as you’ve seen there’s ample scope for interesting and creative approaches.