HYUNDAI have gone to the extremes to prove that their cars are now sub-zero cool.
The Korean firm achieved the first-ever crossing of Antarctica, the planet’s coldest and least-populated continent, using a Santa Fe SUV only usually used to the school run.
The journey was done to commemorate and complete a heroic expedition undertaken by Sir Ernest Shackleton in 1916 attempted the crossing of Antarctica from sea to sea, via the South Pole – known as the the Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition.
However, disaster struck this expedition when its ship, Endurance, became trapped in pack ice and was slowly crushed before the shore parties could be landed.
The 28-man crew escaped by camping on the sea ice until it disintegrated, then by launching the lifeboats to reach Elephant Island and South Georgia.
Shackleton and five others then made an incredible 800-mile open-boat journey in the James Caird to reach South Georgia. From there, Shackleton was eventually able to mount a rescue of the men waiting on Elephant Island and bring them home without any loss of life.
Now, 100 years on, driven by Patrick Bergel great-grandson of Shackleton, the balloon-tyred Santa Fe made it from Union Glacier Camp on the inland South American side, to McMurdo on the coastal New Zealand side – and back again.
The car used was a 2.2 diesel model, with a standard interior, no roll cage or seats removed, and the standard DAB radio. I’m sure it would have been easy to get a signal to listen to Steve Wright while bouncing over glaciers.
According to Hyundai the only modifications were using the huge, Monster truck-esque low-pressure tyres. If only you could order them and the mental wheelarches on the standard car. Now that would make Hyundai cool on the school run!
Other changes were a larger fuel tank using special fuel to run in extreme cold conditions and a pre-heater. That would have been useful.
With that all sorted, the Santa Fe took on and completed the 3600-mile journey, which is some feat.
It had to overcome a pretty arduous journey including floating ice shelves which are constantly moving and minus 28 degree celsius temperatures. Just a tad warmer than a Glasgow summer so I hope they packed a few sweaters.
The Santa Fe averaged only 17mph as they had to plan the journey and not fall into the icy sea. That’s pretty brave stuff.
Hyundai hopes the achievement will change people’s perceptions of the brand.
Yep, the Santa Fe is definitely now cool. But you have to keep the huge wheels, tyres and wheelarches…