By Andrey Matveev, PR Team Leader
Kia Motors Russia
There are things on the earth and phenomena that everyone wants to see at least once in his/her life. Among them, no doubt, is a spacecraft launch. To visit the legendary Baikonur Cosmodrome, and actually see the astronauts, who, in a few hours would be in space, and to hear engines roar and keep track of the rocket, separating from the launch pad … is something most people only dream of.
Kia Motors Rus Company helped thirty journalists to fulfill that dream by inviting them to travel from the Kazakh capital of Astana to Baikonur, where TMA-16 Soyuz spacecraft with its three astronauts was launched on September 30. The trip was organized around the Kia Mohave (known as ‘Borrego’ in some markets) SUV, which will make its debut on the Russian market on October 23.
Astana. The morning of the start. Brand new Mohave cars are ready to leave.
A dream city built in the middle of the steppe. Mohave does not look like an outsider on its streets.
Participants of the project named ‘Mohave Star Start’ had to drive over 1,500 kilometers of roads in Kazakhstan to test the car in different conditions from narrow and bumpy roads, winding along endless steppes, to highways as smooth as glass.
Just outside the city the endless steppe begins. It was one of the most difficult stages of the expedition, where participants had to find the right direction among an infinite number of winding roads through the steppe.
Cross the river is quite a simple task for Mohave.
Infinite wild fields. The main thing here is not to get lost as an error will cost many extra miles.
The first special segment is an alpine skiing track. This is the best opportunity for assessing Mohave’s Downhill Brake Control (DBC) and Hill-start Assist Control (HAC) performances.
Temirtau industrial zone is, without a doubt, one of the gloomiest places on Earth.
Mountain road segment is another test for passing ability, transmission and support systems.
Members of the press were able to evaluate all of Kia Mohave’s benefits on the specially prepared road sections. The car demonstrated its excellent off-road quality on the winding routes along the mountainous slopes and in the bed of Syr Darya River. Driving along the bottom of a dried-up salt lake made it possible to evaluate Mohave’s maneuverability at high speeds, and more than a 200-kilometer section of gravel road gave the big picture of the car’s handling ability and suspension functionality.
The bottom of a dried-up salt lake. What a great pleasure is to trace out zigzags here at the maximum speed!
A long section of smooth asphalt allows you to test the car at maximum speed.
If you think the steppe is monotonous and colorless, you are wrong. Climb higher at sunset and you will see an endless space that shines in all rainbow colors.
Gravel road stretch over 200 km. Nearly two hours of a real high-speed rally.
Ships of the desert, all three of them!
Firm and smooth salt marsh surface is an excellent platform for evaluating of car controllability at high speeds.
On the Syr Darya bank. Here one more special segment has been laid to evaluate car ability to move along the sand dunes.
Near the river there are watermelon and melon fields with endless varieties of melons: white, yellow and even black.
At night, 100 km to the nearest town, we were waiting for late comers and enjoying dessert.
Throughout the route not only roads but also the weather conditions changed. From the cold rain in the north of Kazakhstan to 35-degree heat in the south – it was an excellent test for Mohave’s climate control system. The 1,500 kilometer trip brought constant new discoveries and impressions. Six Kia Mohave cars overcame that distance (twice) without a single serious issue for participants.
The next post will outline the second half of our trip with journalists, when we arrived to Baikonur for the space shuttle launch. Stay tuned!