Three words can be very powerful. Take ‘I love you’, for example. But did you know that three random words could also be a place? This is now possible thanks to a new mapping system and app developed in the UK called what3words. By dividing the globe into 57 trillion 3m x 3m squares, it labels each area with three random words, which act as a unique address. Deep in the middle of the Brazilian rainforest you’ll find vorsprung.durch.technik – and what better way to test Audi’s Q7 SUV than by visiting this tiny patch of land.
The adventure starts in Rio de Janeiro, some 300 miles away from our destination. Visiting Rocinha, Rio’s largest favela, gives us the chance to see what3words in action. It’s being used here in an interesting way to help locals. ‘Because the favelas developed illegally, most people don’t have recognised addresses and can’t rely on the post service,’ explains Carlos Pedro da Silva, owner of Carteiro Amigo. ‘All I have to do now when I deliver a parcel to someone is pull out my phone, type in their what3words then follow the map to their doorstep.’
We jump back into the Q7, connect our phone to the Audi MMI (Multi Media Interface), open the app and punch in our destination: vorsprung.durch.technik. A couple of hours of long, fast corners and stunning tropical scenery later, we arrive at Paraty. Tourists flock to this colonial town to enjoy the charming white stone buildings with colourful doors and shutters. After a delicious dinner of locally caught seafood we retire to our hotel rooms and sleep soundly.
The following day we head inland to the Serra do Mar National Park, where the road deteriorates making it impossible to go any faster than 10mph, slowing to a crawl on the worst sections. It’s here we meet Benedito da Souza Junior, a solitary figure out walking his horses. ‘These tracks are made for all-terrain lorries, not cars,’ he explains. ‘The terrible surface shakes chassis apart and the large ruts and trenches wreck suspensions.’ Despite this, the Q7 takes every rut, gully and slope in its stride thanks to its quattro all-wheel-drive system.
Finally, after some incredibly challenging driving we reach a point where we need to head off-road. Vorsprung. durch.technik lies just ahead of us, but without the navigation system we probably would have missed it. It seems amazing that simply typing Audi’s motto into an app has led us to this unique part of the world: luckily the random nature of what3words didn’t indicate a council dump in Skegness. There’s no doubt that in the Q7 we would have still arrived at our destination but the pictures would be much less pretty.
Written by John Silcox. Photographs by Greg Pajo.