Hyundai says there was plenty of "monkeying around" when its UK division turned over a new i30 hatchback (called Elantra Touring in Canada) to a troop of baboons.
In what Hyundai billed as the "ultimate wear and tear challenge," the company parked the car for 10 hours in a safari park where it was immediately besieged by dozens of the park’s primates.
Baboons from Knowsley Safari Park, in Merseyside, on the outskirts of Liverpool, are well-known for their love of tearing park visitors’ cars apart, the company said. But at the end of the ordeal the car emerged virtually unscathed.
According to Hyundai, the car has been specially-designed for families and their "little monkeys" in the back, with extra strong materials used to build the interior, easy wipe plastics, tough fittings and a special high quality steel used for the bodywork.
The baboon invasion supposedly simulated the punishment that the children of a typical family subject a car to: jumping up and down on seats, pushing and prodding buttons and opening and closing storage bins. They even checked the durability of cupholders with plastic drinking beakers!
Outside, the paintwork was smeared and scraped, but the hard-wearing paint protected the car from significant scratches and chips.
Meanwhile, other baboons tested the fabric of seats by eating their lunch in the car and some played with their toys in the i30’s cargo area. Baboons eat a wide range of food, from seeds and fruit, to birds and rodents
Hyundai hopes lessons learnt from the monkey tests can inform the research and development of future cars.
"I’ve seen thousands of cars pass through this enclosure, get mobbed by monkeys, and none have lasted the distance as well as this Hyundai," said David Ross, General Manager at Knowsley Safari Park.
"These baboons are incredibly inquisitive. If you put them on any car they will scour it for the weak points and find any faults. At one point there were 40 monkeys in the car, pushing it to its limits – that’s ten times the size of the average human family!" he added.
To give something back to the primtes for their help, Hyundai donated £1,000 to one of Knowsley’s supported charities, the Primate Society of Great Britain, which dedicates its work to conservation and captive care of new and old world monkeys, gibbons and apes.
Knowsley Safari Park is situated around historic Knowsley Hall on the ancestral estate of the Earl of Derby. The reserve is home to many different animals including elephants, giraffes, lions, tigers and baboons.
Information about the park can be found at www.knowsleysafariexperience.co.uk.