Q meets cuba: designboom test drives the AUDI Q2 in havana
apart from its vivid landscape, vibrant inhabitants, vivacious music and food, and strong sense of diversity, cuba is widely recognized for one emblematic trait: its cars. the country’s omnipresent car culture is driven by a deeply-rooted history of political and social upheaval, beginning with the revolution in the late 1950s. subsequently by 1960, the united states placed a trade embargo on cuba that forced the import and export of goods between the two entities to come to a screeching halt.
everyday life in cuba was sharply interrupted by the absence of an important commodity — american cars. inhabitants were forced to make do with the vehicles already existing in the country, in effect creating an isolated automotive gene pool. without replacement parts, these cars were maintained thanks to the enormous skill and improvisation of cuba’s mechanics. nearly 60 years later, these now-vintage buicks, chevrolets, chryslers and cadillacs are still very much a part of the street scene, and still dominate the island’s urban landscape.
designboom test drives the AUDI Q2 in havana, cuba
now, cuba is in the midst of a fascinating transitional phase. in september 2015, a historic decision loosened trade and travel restrictions between cuba and the united states — a change which also allows the international community of nations to conduct trade with the country’s economy.
recognizing its developing landscape, and unparalleled blend of tradition, evolution, style and lust for life, AUDI has become the first car maker in modern times to present a new model in cuba. for the first test drive of the latest member of the AUDI Q family, the german manufacturer has selected the one-of-a-kind megacity of havana as its stage. designboom was invited to embark on a 135-kilometer test drive in and around the capital city to experience the AUDI Q2 — a compact SUV for everyday driving and recreation that blends a progressive design with a high level of functionality. the journey around havana took designboom thorough the palm-lined ‘finca el ila’, along the white sandy landscape of ‘playa del este’, and within the dense urban neighborhood of vedado.
AUDI becomes the first car maker in modern times to present a new model in cuba
whether driving through the bustling streets, or parked on the beach, the AUDI Q2 makes a bold statement with its rugged look and feel. first debuted at the 2016 geneva motor show, this powerful SUV boasts a strong front image created by a high-mounted singleframe grille in octagonal design. a low roof descends into the C-pillars with color offset blades — a contrast which accentuates its sportiness. its rear body dynamically terminates with a long roof spoiler and diffuser. from the side, a high shoulder line and concave flanks in the door area emphasize the wheel housings, highlighting its quattro character. the vehicle measures 1.51 meters (5.0 ft) tall and 1.79 meters (5.9 ft) wide; short overhangs extend its length to 4.19 meters (13.7 ft) with a wheelbase of 2.60 meters (8.5 ft).
the AUDI Q2 test drive took designboom through the bustling streets of havana
‘the Q2 has a powerful, edgy, slightly rough stance,’ describes AUDI exterior designer matthias fink. ‘it’s not exactly a track athlete, more of a youthful, crossfit type. its low, coupe-like cabin gives our most compact SUV very sporty overall proportions. at the same time, its robust and solid torso and the dedicated offroad protection on the sills and around the wheel arches add to its very strong SUV character.’
the design of the compact SUV blends a progressive aesthetic with a high level of functionality
on the inside, technology plays an important role in the character of the AUDI Q2. alongside an optional AUDI virtual cockpit and head-up display, driver assistance systems also come from the full-size class, including the AUDI ‘pre sense’ front. this system recognizes critical situations involving other vehicles and pedestrians as they cross in front of the car, and — if necessary — can initiate hard braking to a standstill at low speeds. other systems and user interfaces include adaptive cruise control, a traffic jam assistant, traffic sign recognition and rear parking assist.
the car’s distinctively geometric form is combined with model-specific design characteristics
‘the AUDI virtual cockpit fits the character of the Q2 perfectly – with its performance, its high-precision graphics and its sheer joy of use,’ explains AUDI user interface designer sophie severin. ‘the tubes of the virtual dials, for instance, have three levels, which makes them look completely three-dimensional. and when you tick the checkbox to switch on an assistance system, the movement is animated and flowing.’
the SUV sports a low roof that descends into the C-pillars with color offset blades
operating the Q2 is easy, ergonomic, and intuitive. the highly connected SUV is equipped with a standard MMI screen positioned high on the instrument panel. when MMI navigation plus is selected, users can access the system either through a touchpad on the central control element, or by natural language operation and the integrated MMI search. a wi-fi hotspot allows for surfing and streaming with mobile devices.
behind-the-scenes, a bang & olufsen sound system delivers 705 watts of audio power through 14 loudspeakers, with woofers highlighted by anodized aluminum trim; at night, LED light strips emit a soft white glow.
the rear body of the AUDI Q2 dynamically terminates with a long roof spoiler and diffuser
a selection of six different engine options are offered for the Q2, with power outputs ranging from 815 kw (116 hp) to 140 kw (190 hp). this engine program follows the principle of ‘rightsizing’ — finding the perfect balance between vehicle class, engine displacement, power output, torque and efficiency behavior in everyday conditions.
to make the Q2 as distinct as its drivers, a host of equipment packages are available for personal customization, including exterior, interior trim and seat upholstery color palettes that allow creative space for individual configuration. colors like yellow, orange and red can be selected for decorative trim and certain areas of the seats, while upholstery choices range from high-end fabrics to fine nappa leather.
neighboring cars check out the AUDI Q2 in havana
with its first test drive in havana complete, the AUDI Q2 is ready for its launch in the european market in autumn 2016. the cuban passion for cars — whether at the wheel of an automobile from the 50s, or a classic from the soviet era — is palpable. up until the revolution, cuba was an extremely popular place for automakers and manufacturers to launch new car models. with the test drive of the Q2 in the capital city, AUDI returns to this tradition in spectacular style.
whether driving through the bustling streets, or parked on the beach, the AUDI Q2 makes a bold statement
the Q2 has a powerful, edgy, and slightly rough stance
AUDI Q2’s low, coupe-like proportions give the vehicle a sporty overall aesthetic
the one-of-a-kind megacity of havana hosts a fleet of AUDI Q2s
cuba is widely recognized for its emblematic car culture
1950s buicks, chevrolets, chryslers, oldsmobiles, and cadillacs still dominate the island’s roads
many of these vintage cruisers are incredibly well maintained, thanks to the enormous skill of cuba’s mechanics
image © designboom
cars are painted in bright, radiant colors
image © designboom
1950s sedans and convertibles line the streets
image © designboom
contoured air inlets and a highly positioned singleframe radiator grille clearly give the front end an SUV look
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