The Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) knows how to draw out the looniest in people. Frankenstein vehicles from major automakers and tiny tuning houses alike assemble each year in Las Vegas, Nevada. Some are inspired works of art, others are real head-scratchers. Either way, it’s entertaining.
Honda, Toyota, Mazda, and other Japanese automakers have a big presence at SEMA, but recently Hyundai has become more involved. This year, the Korean brand teamed up with Rockstar Energy to build this insane Santa Fe off-road concept. Its official name is the Hyundai Rockstar Santa Fe Concept and it’s as wild as the people who guzzle energy drinks day in and day out.
Hyundai morphed the Santa Fe into a rock-crawling, dirt-running monster mobile by installing a completely new suspension system that increases the ride height for extra ground clearance, adding aftermarket King shocks to soak up bumps, and fitting massive 35-inch Mickey Thompson Baja Claw tires on 17-inch, bead-lock wheels. Designed for off-road and military vehicles, bead-lock wheels allow the tire to be bolted to the rim, so it doesn’t come off if deflated. Yea, this thing is legit.
As if the wheel-and-tire package didn’t give the Rockstar Santa Fe enough attitude, Hyundai added LED light bars, rock sliders and bumpers, and a custom roof rack. A winch is also built into the front bumper in case the Rockstar Santa Fe goes exploring alone and is caught without traction. Inside, it’s custom all the way, with leather upholstery and unique hardware.
The 3.3-liter V6 shared with stock Hyundai Santa Fe crossovers was treated to a custom exhaust system and nitrous oxide (or Nos, as the racer community refers to it). The juice should put the Santa Fe concept well past its stock 290 hp and 252 lb-ft of torque specs, but Hyundai wouldn’t quote a specific power output. The Korean car-maker will also bring a 1,000-hp Santa Fe built by tuner Bisimoto to SEMA, so clearly there’s some potential in that engine.
It’s weird to say that the Rockstar Santa Fe Concept is tame, but considering the wild stuff that floats through the Las Vegas Convention Center this time a year, a juiced-up crossover is pretty modest.