For nearly 60 years, Cuba has been in an automotive time warp. The antagonism between the U.S. government and recently deceased dictator Fidel Castro means the majority of cars on Cuban roads are American throwbacks to the 1950s, left over from before trade embargoes and communism.
So a brand new Infiniti Q60 on the streets of Havana is sure to turn a few heads. Taking advantage of the thaw in U.S.-Cuba relations, Infiniti brought its new coupe to the country’s capital. It claims the red Q60 is the first U.S.-spec car registered in Cuba since 1959. The car certainly stands out among the ’50s American sedans and Russian Ladas.
The Q60 was driven around Cuba by Infiniti design director Alfonso Albaisa, who grew up in a Cuban exile family in Miami. This was Albaisa’s first time in his family’s home country, and he took the opportunity to explore the architecture of his great uncle, Max Borges-Recio. Interest in design runs in the family, it seems.
Targeting the likes of the BMW 4 Series, Infiniti’s latest coupe is a far cry from the average Cuban car. It’s offered with turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder and 3.0-liter V6 engines, the more powerful version of the latter producing 400 horsepower and 295 pound-feet of torque. It also features Infiniti’s Direct Adaptive Steering, a steer-by-wire system with no mechanical connection between the steering wheel and the road.
That system may be a bit too complex to repair in a backyard or home garage, which is how many Cubans have kept their cars running over the past six decades. New cars were scarce and expensive under the Castro regime, although more modern cars may make their way to the island now that Cuba has friendlier relations with the U.S.
In the meantime, Cuba will likely remain a fantasy land for car enthusiasts, where chrome and tail fins still rule, and modern econoboxes are virtually nowhere to be found.