Pope Francis trades in Mercedes-Benz popemobile for a Hyundai
Pope Francis waves to faithful as he arrives for his weekly general audience in St. Peter's Square, at the Vatican, Wednesday, March 18, 2015. (AP / Gregorio Borgia)
Pope Francis has traded in his bulletproof Mercedes-Benz SUV popemobile for a new Hyundai Santa Fe convertible. Yes, we said a Hyundai.
The new vehicle, the first Hyundai in the Vatican fleet, made its debut early June on a drive through St. Peter's Square for the Pope's weekly general audience.
The new car is lower than previous popemobiles, narrower, and can more easily make tight turns. It's also a better fit with the messages of humility that Pope Francis preaches.
Unlike his prior Benz popemobile, which the pontificate will still be keeping for use during special events, the new Hyundai roadster can not be fitted with a protective bulletproof glass topper.
The Pope however feels the rewards outweigh the risks, having commented two years ago following his appointment that, "I cannot greet the people and tell them I love them inside a sardine can, even if it is made of glass. For me it is a wall.”
The 2.2-litre four-cylinder turbodiesel Hyundai is expected to be a one-off build, and not the first in a new lower-priced line of popemobiles.
During his two years as Pope, Francis has demonstrated a penchant for being chauffered in less-than-flashy popemobiles, including an old Ford sedan and a vintage Renault he drives himself.