Caribbean cruising: Cuba’s first car launch for 50 years


The new Audi Q2 turns heads in Cuba at the country’s first car launch for 50 years.

Audi Q2 in Cuba

For tourists, Havana is a never-ending photo opportunity, but for the locals who have grown up in a city still seemingly frozen in time since the Revolution of 1959, capturing their attention requires something unusual. It could be the official visit of Barack Obama, or an unofficial ‘royal visit’ from Jay-Z and Beyoncé, but in our case the key to turning heads was taking part in the first international car launch in Cuba for over 50 years.

   It certainly didn’t harm that we were driving the eye-catchingly cute Audi Q2. On city streets dominated by 1970s Ladas, Moskvitches and Polski Fiats from Eastern Europe, or classic American Chevys, Fords and Buicks from the 1950s, a hypermodern, sharp-edged crossover looks like a car from the future.

‘The Q2 handles every bump, lump and pothole comfortably, and the higher ride makes it easy to spot them’

Audi Q2 in the Plaza de la Revolucion

   It is also perfect for Cuba. Before setting out, the advice from local drivers is that if you are on a dual carriageway, you should stick to the outer lane of the admittedly terrible roads. However, unlike most of the old cars in this country, the Q2 handles every bump, lump and pothole comfortably, and the higher ride makes it easy to spot them.

   Q2 drivers can also option technology available to the Q range, including the fully digital and customisable Virtual Cockpit and a wireless charging Audi Phone Box. Driving through the city is made infinitely more comfortable thanks to the air-con system (from 32C outside, to 20C inside), and the 14-speaker B&O sound system is perfect for Radio Havana Cuba.

    We finish our tour in the Plaza de la Revolucion under the stern gaze of the iconic Che Guevara, whose image adorns the Ministry of Interior. Given his love of motorcycles, Che probably wouldn’t have approved of the Q2, but current President Raúl Castro is apparently a fan of the Audi brand. And judging by the response we had, he isn’t the only one.

Written by Paul Henderson; Photographs by Nick Wilson.


Find out more about the new Audi Q2