Suspension and fuel tank were the only improved components.
Hyundai has released a short film highlighting the Antarctic expedition of a Santa Fe with a 2.2-liter diesel engine. We were so impressed by the vehicle that our Motor1 UK team even drove it to discover it's one hell of a machine. The South Korean manufacturer used only a slightly modified example of the model to make a trip from Union Camp to McMurdo and back again, becoming the first vehicle to do so.
The only improvement to the car were the slightly redesigned suspension and wheel arches, which had to fit giant low-pressure tires. Hyundai explains the car was running on one-tenth of a normal road tire pressure making it so soft “you can drive over someone’s hand and it won't hurt them.”
The SUV’s body has been raised with sub-frames, while the only other modification was to increase the capacity of the fuel tank. All the other components of the Santa Fe, including engine, management system, transmission, front differential and driveshaft, were all completely standard.
The expedition took place in December last year and covered almost 3,600 miles (roughly 5,800 kilometers) of “icy terrain in bitter conditions.” The car not only had to cover extreme distances at temperatures down to minus 28-degrees Celsius, Hyundai says, but it also had to “plot new paths on floating ice caps that have never been travelled by wheeled vehicle before.”
During the expedition, the vehicle was driven by Patrick Bergel, the great grandson of legendary polar explorer Sir Ernest Shackleton. The expedition was timed to commemorate the centenary of Shackleton’s Trans-Antarctic expedition from 1914-16.
“We were aware of Sir Ernest Shackleton’s story and as a company felt a resonance with his courage and pioneering spirit,” Scott Noh, Head of Overseas Marketing Group at Hyundai, commented. “Our film celebrates this spirit and through Patrick, his great grandson, completes his dream to cross Antarctica – just a hundred years later.”