Hyundai is more ad­ven­tur­ous than we thought

A Santa Fe has crossed the Antarc­tic. We take it for an ex­pe­di­tion of our own

Top Gear (UK) - - THE TEN -

Try imag­in­ing a car jour­ney that’s so hard it takes 100 years. A Hyundai Santa Fe has just crossed the Antarc­tic con­ti­nent and back, a 360-mile epic that passes the South Pole both ways. This com­pleted the ex­pe­di­tion aban­doned by Sir Ernest Shack­le­ton in 1916. This time around, the Hyundai was driven by Shack­le­ton’s great­grand­son, Pa­trick Bergel. A touch­ing res­o­nance.

The Hyundai is the frst pas­sen­ger ve­hi­cle to make the cross­ing. In fact, be­fore this ex­pe­di­tion, no one had done the full tra­verse rather than reach­ing the pole from one side of the con­ti­nent or the other.

To han­dle the con­di­tions, the Santa Fe was left with its stan­dard en­gine, a 2.2 diesel, al­beit with an ex­tra block heater, but ft­ted with huge fo­ta­tion bal­loon tyres, run­ning with por­tal re­duc­tion hubs, and new sus­pen­sion arms with suit­ably su­per­sized Fox shocks. But the reg­u­lar trans­mis­sion was left in place.

We were ofered a go in it and took it to the only log­i­cal place – the Mil­ton Keynes Sno­zone. An in­door ski slope with real snow. Bergel drove this Hyundai to the end of the earth. We drove it in a big shed in Buck­ing­hamshire.

My word, those tyres add some heft to the vis­ual im­pres­sion. It tow­ers over you. The door han­dles are at shoul­der height. Just get­ting in is an ex­er­cise in mi­nor moun­taineer­ing.

I set the Santa Fe to a ten­ta­tive crawl and it claws its way to a level patch half­way up. The steer­ing is mushy and the body pitches and rolls. Grad­u­ally given more of the power, it comes more alive. It kicks back the snow, the tyres shoul­der­ing the load.

At the bot­tom of the slope is an ac­tual piste-bash­ing ma­chine. The Sno­zone peo­ple say they’re stag­gered a wheeled ve­hi­cle went up where that gi­ant tracked con­trap­tion nor­mally has exclusive ac­cess. But then, the Santa Fe has gone un­de­feated by unimag­in­ably more in­tractable ter­rain than this.

Santa Fe Antarc­tic Edi­tion – ideal for chilly morn­ings in the home coun­ties

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