When you think of Hyundai, what pops to mind? I persuaded my Grandfather to buy a Hyundai i30 because it’s economical, not at all powerful, cheap, and… normal.
This story is far from normal, though, as Hyundai takes to the snowy region of the Antarctic with a lightly modified Santa Fe driven by Patrick Bergel, great-grandson of the famous explorer Sir Ernest Shackleton. This is the first time this journey has ever been completed with Sir Shackleton last attempting it in 1914 with his ship, ‘Endurance’.
The Santa Fe, negotiating the snow and ice with its extra large feet, eventually made it from Union Glacier Camp on the inland South American side, to McMurdo on the coastal New Zealand side and back in only 30 days.
The Hyundai in question is the Hyundai Santa Fe 2.2 litre diesel model. Next to no modifications were made except for wheels and tyres, new subframes and suspension, and gears within the wheel hubs to cope with the boundless forces acting upon them and also which reduced the gearing effect brought on by the larger wheels.
Furthermore, changes were made to the body in terms of those colossal wheel arches, an engine pre-heater, and the switch from normal diesel to Jet A-1 fuel which can cope with the icy, severe temperatures of the South Pole.
This 3600-mile trip was devoured by the Santa Fe at a steady 17mph. The slow speed due to the invisible dangers of traversing what looks like a flat white sea of dust, but what is actually a flowing ocean of moving fissures and ice shelves that could be detrimental to the car and its inhabitants. But through perseverance, the team completed this treacherous trip, adding Hyundai to the history books.
This performance acts as a showcase of the talent behind Hyundai, and the capability of the team behind the steering wheel. If only they’d bring a little of the excitement behind this project to their road cars. Only then will their brand evolve from being normal, to extraordinary.