How to go on a wild ride with rally ace Paddon
Here’s a fascinating attraction – South Korea’s very first motoring theme park. Rob Maetzig pays a visit.
Kiwi rally ace Hayden Paddon would have been pleased. He almost made three NZ motoring journalists car-sick – all at once.
Mind you, Paddon wasn’t there. Not really. But virtual versions of he and his Kiwi codrive John Kennard were on hand to take the journalists – Yours Truly included – on a very energetic virtual ride in their Hyundai i20WRC rally car. In 4-D inside a darkened room. With us wearing 3-D glasses.
This 4-D simulator is one attraction at Hyundai MotorStudio Goyang, South Korea’s first motoring theme park, which opened to the public in Goyang, just east of Seoul, a couple of months ago.
Hyundai already has several of these MotorStudios in operation – in Seoul, the fellow Korean city of Hanam, and in Moscow – and each one is designed to exhibit certain elements of motoring. For example, the Seoul version concentrates on motoring from the point of view of culture and art, while the Hanam facility looks at the carmaker’s future vision for mobility.
But the new MotorStudio at Goyang is all about vehicles themselves – how they are built, what they contain, how they are tested, and what it feels like to race them. It’s a massive 64,000 square metre theme park dedicated to the motor vehicle. Which makes sense, considering how important vehicle manufacturing is to the Korean economy.
It really is an impressive place. Visitors can embark on tours in which they learn how steel is made, how the steel is stamped into vehicle body parts, how cars are assembled and welded, and how engines work.
They can walk through an airbag tunnel that deflates and inflates at the touch of a hand, experience a wind tunnel, listen in a giant sound booth, and enjoy one special attraction that uses hundreds of aluminium rods to create various forms, including cars.
The visitors can also sit through a fascinating virtualreality drive along city streets that somehow turns into the car rocketing down a crash-test facility and slamming into a solid object. It’s all very realistic.
But not as realistic as the climax to any visit to MotorStudio Goyang – the virtual ride with Paddon.
Prior to entering the theatre we were warned that the virtual ride is ‘‘dynamic’’, and that anyone prone to car-sickness, or with a heart condition, should reconsider taking part in the experience. As we walked in we were handed 3-D glasses, and after we sat down a large bar was folded down in front of us and clicked into place.
A virtual Paddon and Kennard flash up on the screen, wishing us good luck – and then the virtual drive starts.
We instantly discovered why this experience is called 4-D; the fourth dimension is movement. As we sat in the virtual i20 rally car as it careered through various special stages, our seats violently bucked and pitched. The experience lasted six minutes – by the colour of the faces of people who walked out at the end, it’s just as well it didn’t last longer.
But the experience is a great way of publicising the fact that the company is heavily involved in the World Rally Championship, and further rally-based exhibits at the MotorStudio underline that.
That’s the whole point of facilities such as this entire theme park – to celebrate the importance of the motor vehicle. And to have some fun at the same time. Although I suspect that after that wild 4-D ride at Goyang, ‘‘fun’’ probably wasn’t the best way to describe how some of the participants were feeling!
Hyundai’s WRC heroics take up plenty of display space at Goyang. It includes this i20 taking to the air.
Sorry about the slight blurring – but these cartoon figures of Kiwis Hayden Paddon (right) and his co-driver John Kennard were already making the seats start to move.