Hyundai PopemobileEnlarge Photo
Pope Francis is known for eschewing some of his position's more luxurious perks.
He doesn't live in the Vatican's palatial papal apartments, but rather a more humble guest house, and his restrained robes are a decided departure from the lavish costumes preferred by his predecessor, Benedict XVI. And while he took delivery of a M-Class-Based Popemobile just two years ago, his latest ride is built by a company with more humble roots than the German giant, Hyundai.
The new ride breaks an 80-year streak for Mercedes-Benz as the purveyor of popemobiles, though the Hyundai's smaller size and lower profile—and not brand identity—was the apparent reason for the switch.
Of course, the 2015 Santa Fe isn't exactly stock. The engine is still the 2.2-liter CRDi turbo-diesel unit, but the top is open—no bulletproof bubble for this people's Pope—and there are retractable steps at the rear door to facilitate standing exits.
How long this popemobile will see service is anyone's guess, but we think the thrifty Holy See will want to get his money out of the Santa Fe's 10-year, 100,000-mile powertrain warranty [if he were in the U.S., alas].
But if he trades it in for the twin-turbo V-6 Genesis in 2016 or 2017, we'll let you know.