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Monkey business tests Hyundai quality

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IOL mot may11 hyundai monkeys

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New road test technique puts the future of motoring journalists in jeopardy.

They press all the buttons, try to open the windows, then drop their lunch down every crevice in the upholstery.

And that’s just the kids when you take them for a drive in the car.

So what better way to test the durability of a brand new hatchback than to leave it at the mercy of a troop of cheeky little monkeys?

That is precisely what Hyundai UK did when it wanted to discover how its new i30 hatchback (due in South Africa in July) would withstand the ordeal of so many inquisitive minds, prying fingers and sticky paw marks. Not to mention the unmentionable from a species never noted for potty-training.

At one stage there were 40 baboons road-testing the car, jumping up and down on the seats and clambering through the ‘panoramic ambience’ (Hyundai’s phrase) of the sliding glass roof.

About the only difference between the primates and their counterpart human rascals was that the one in the back never asked: “Are we nearly there yet?” Baboons at Knowsley Safari Park in Merseyside are no strangers to ripping apart family cars but are actually highly intelligent.

IOL mot may11 hyundai monkeys 3

Steering is communicative, but the seats could do with a redesign.

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The automotive monkey-business was inspired by another great mind – Wayne Rooney – whose Audi was damaged by the mob when the footballer visited the park last year.

The Hyundai was handed over to the troop for ten hours and left unattended. Designers wanted to see how the finish would stand up to the kind of punishment the average child might inflict during the car’s lifetime.

Dozens of them colonised it from the moment it was driven into their enclosure. Result: A few scrapes, lots of smears and finger marks, a dislodged rubber door seal that was rejected as a snack; plus some tooth marks in the steering wheel. The good news: no one stole the alloys.

‘Safari park monkeys are particularly good at discovering weak points on cars and then pulling, prodding and tearing at the parts until they break,’ said Hyundai project manager Felicity Wood.

Safari Park general manager David Ross said the baboons “thoroughly enjoyed” the experiment.

He added: “For a baboon to have a car to play with for the whole day is manna from heaven.” -Daily Mail

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