A specifically altered Hyundai Santa Fe had recently set a new record for being the first ever passenger car to bravely drive across the freezing Antarctica and back again, travelling from Union Camp to McMurdo and heading back to Union Camp. Also the Santa Fe is the first wheeled passenger vehicle to make it across the Ross Ice Shelf, which officially makes the South Korean vehicle the coolest car out there.
Hyundai, the South Korean automaker, recently released a short reel showing the Antarctic quest of its Santa Fe equipped with a 2.2 L diesel engine. The quest happened in December last year and the team traveled over 3,600 miles (around 5,800 km) of icy territories in grueling conditions.
They were in for a long haul as the expedition team averaged a speed of only 17 miles per hour. They had to take it slow and steady, considering the dire need to check for weak points in the ice every now and then, not mentioning other obstacles they faced in the cold continent. They concluded the quest in 30 days.
Hyundai revealed that the SUV not only traveled in maximal distances at temperatures reaching minus 28 degrees Celsius, but it also paved new paths on floating ice caps that have never been traversed by an wheeled vehicle before.
Gisli Jonsson from Arctic Trucks was the one who prepped the SUV for the expedition, and only needed minimal modifications to complete the task. The only modified parts made to the vehicle were the slightly altered suspension and wheel arches, which can accommodate the low pressure tires. The South Korean automaker indicated that the SUV was functioning on one-tenth of a standard road tire pressure, for the purpose of rendering it so soft that you can literally drive over somebody's hand and it won't break the body part.
The vehicle's body has been duly elevated with sub frames, and other alterations were done to increase the fuel tank's maximum capacity. All other parts of the SUV like its engine, management system, transmission, front differential and driveshaft were mostly stock parts and not in any way altered, which is rather impressive.
The Hyundai Santa Fe was mainly handled by Patrick Bergel, the great grandson of the legendary polar explorer Sir Ernest Shackleton. This Antarctic expedition was not a coincidence, but a timely centenary commemoration of Sir Schackleton's Trans-Antarctic's expedition from 1914-16.
Scott Noh, Head of Overseas Marketing Group at Hyundai, commented that they were made aware of Sir Ernest Shackleton's story and the Hyundai company felt his courage and pioneering spirit. Moreover he further expressed that their film celebrates this pioneering spirit and through Sir Ernest's grandson, Patrick, achieves his dream to conquer Antarctica- just a hundred years later.
Does this change your perspective regarding the South Korean automaker? Whether it impressed you or not, this is a such a large feat for Hyundai and serves as an ultimate challenge to the other automotive company. What a bad-ass vehicle, this one earns our utmost respect.