DEC 17th 2015

Axon's Automotive Anorak – Santa Sleighed by the Modern Motor

Renault Espace F1

With the population of planet earth growing at such an alarming rate, poor old Santa Claus has his work cut for him at this time of year like never before!

Christmas gift guide promo

At the turn of the 20th Century, there were less than 2-billion of us inhibiting this small planet. Today the total world population has grown to over 7-billion, and counting, meaning Santa now has to whip around the globe flat out at a turbo-charged pace to deliver presents, and frankly his flying reindeer and aging sleigh are no longer up to it.

To cope with the pressures of modern Christmas present delivery, surely the time has come for Santa to consider trading in his sleigh, along with Rudolph, Dasher, and their six other chums, and acquire a modern motorcar to distribute joy and gifts around the world. The only problem is, what car is best suited to this very tough job?

It’s a tough call, as the ideal vehicle for Father Christmas will need to be ecologically-sound, safe, comfortable, ultra-reliable and extremely versatile, with good performance, a long-range fuel capability, a first-class infotainment and sat-nav system to avoid missing vital chimney pots, have excellent hi-tech lighting for the night skies, and a great climate control system to keep him warm on those frosty late December evenings.


Despite the on-going efforts and dreams of companies such as Moller and Terrafugia, the flying car is still not a realistic proposition, immediately ruling out this untested form of modern motoring. Amphibious machines like the Gibbs Aquada are limited on luggage space, and not too hot on land, so they are out too.

The gift carrying capacity of the average family hatchback, saloon, or even estate, is also quite restricted, this ruling out all supercars too, as a McLaren P1 or Ferrari LaFerrari will struggle to cope with footballs, teddy bears, handbags and golf clubs rammed into their snug boots and cockpits.

A large MPV people carrier might be better suited, but most of these are too slow, with the exception of Renault’s one-off Espace F1 concept, which is lightening quick, but has its 820bhp V10 engine mid-mounted where the presents should be packed. The MPVs may also struggle to handle the twister roads of the Andes or Alps. A panel van could work, as few things are as quick as one of those on the road, but their ‘white van man’ image doesn’t really suit Santa, and a Transit is a bit too ordinary for one of the world’s best-loved icons.


So how about something smaller, such as a Berlingo or Doblo? These might work, but could they stand the pace of haring around the world non-stop for 24 hours? A pick-up truck, particularly a Toyota Hi-Lux, Ford F150 or trusty Defender that we see in the toughest and most inhospitable areas of the world, could do it, but the presents wouldn’t be very secure in the flatbed, and could be flung out or easily pinched!

So, a fast SUV, such as a Porsche Cayenne Turbo S, BMW X5 M, Range Rover SVO or the new Bentley Bentayga. An interesting thought perhaps, but their huge tyres and limited fuel range might impede Santa’s progress in the forests and more isolated parts of the world, and there aren’t many official Bentley service centres in the Amazon or Gobi Desert. He may also worry about scratching the expensive leather upholstery with the garden sheers destined for great aunt Flo in Worksop. Larger SUVs like a Hummer H1 or Lamborghini LM002 would rapidly plough through any terrain, but they would run out of fuel just a quickly too, so will be of no use to Santa and his little helpers either.

A classic car could appeal, as a pre-war machine like a Ford Model-T van or Blower Bentley could go almost anywhere, but they would need constant maintenance, and a post-war Morris Minor Traveller or Ferrari 250 ‘Breadvan’ would be too fragile, despite their favourable gift carrying capacities.

Mercedes Benz G63 AMG 6x6

As we are rapidly running out of motoring options for Santa, and Christmas is just around the corner, maybe we should consider something more daring, such as a six-wheeler. The late William Towns’ 1980s Hustler Highlander would give aches of cargo space, combined with lusty Jaguar V12 power and a huge glass area to clearly see the houses where the next mince pie will be waiting for him. One of the huge Tissier-converted Citroen CX six-wheelers would give him even more space to load presents, as well as a flat and smoother ride, and Sbarro’s wild Windhound and Cadillac-based TAG Function Car would give him enough room to relax and sort out the next batch of gifts to be delivered, whilst chomping on a cold turkey sandwich.

As these cars are all a tad old and potentially temperamental though, a new six-wheeled Mercedes-Benz AMG G63 6×6 could be the perfect Christmas present delivery solution. It’s German, like Santa, has plenty of space, bullet-proof reliability, can cope with any adverse weather and road conditions, and looks menacing enough to scare any child daring to try and sneak a peak at Santa straight back under the duvet. Granted, the G-Wagen may not be very green, as it guzzles liquid faster than great aunt Flo with a bottle of sherry, but hey, it’s Christmas, and Santa deserves a break just like the rest of us! Ho Ho Ho…

Photography by Tom Shaxson and Mercedes-Benz. Lead photograph courtesy of ‘Thesupermat’ licensed under Creative Commons 3.0.

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