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Here’s How You Create A Hyundai Santa Fe With Real Attitude

Hyundai has Teamed with Rockstar Performance to create a Santa Fe with real attitude. It's exactly what you achieve when you equip a 3.3-liter engine with nitrous.

Hyundai and the Rockstar Performance Garage have teamed to create a Santa Fe with a real attitude. Or, to put it another way, they have teamed to build a fire-breathing, nitrous-burning, off-roading monster that gives new meaning to power offroading.

Hyundai Lambda V-6 Engine

Using the standard 3.3-liter Lambda V-6, the tuning shop has done some serious engine tweaking. For example, it has added a nitrous-oxide injection system that will raise the motor’s performance parameters significantly, though no horsepower figures were mentioned. Racers have used nitrous for years to give their vehicles almost rocket-like performance. An AEM cold air intake handles getting proper airflow to the intake manifold. A Magnaflow custom exhaust keeps things in balance. Getting the power to the wheels, Rockstar’s team installed Nitro Gear gears which should be able to stand up to the stresses generated by the engine.

Rockstar paired the V-6 with a Mishimoto cooling system to handle the extreme heat stress resulting from the nitrous injection system. Nitrous injection is not easy on an engine; only a top cooling system can take care of it reliably.

Another significant – and necessary – change occurred with the brakes. An R1 six-piston front big brake system, complemented by four-piston rears handle hauling the Santa Fe down from speed, no matter where it is running, on the pavement or offroad.

The concept vehicle that Rockstar has created “conveys the endless brand energy in everything we do,” Nick Ashby, lead vehicle developer, said. “Our Rockstar Santa Fe Concept is simultaneously all-show and all-go, a non-compromising concept with tremendous capabilities and a confident demeanor to match.”

Performance Wheels And Tires

Some of the ability of the Santa Fe Concept is reflected in the choice of wheels and tires. The development team picked 17-inch KMC 391 Turbine bead-lock off-road wheels and Mickey Thompson Baja Claw 35-inch off-road tires. To fit the tires, the developers had to use a wheel clearance expansion kit. To handle the stresses of the performance package and wheels and tires, the team also used a custom suspension setup with new tie-rods and control arms.

Keeping the wheels where they belong – on the trail and not jouncing all over the place – the developers used 2.0 King coil-over shocks up front and 2.5 King shocks with finned reservoirs in the rear.

Meantime, Odyssey batteries handle the electric chores. They have been matched with Nology high-performance wires. A custom roof rack, headlights and taillights, WARN winch, Rock sliders and bumpers and Bulldog, LED lighting round out the off-road package. On the interior, the design team used a Road wire customer leather interior and Kicker audio system.


Fahr Sicher (not verified)    October 6, 2016 - 10:34PM

I'm sure the custom roof rack did the trick... It still looks like, drives like and smells like a Hyundai (rhymes with Sunday).

Marc Stern    October 7, 2016 - 7:12AM

Nope, the roof rack was just the icing; what did the trick was the special engine blueprinting that was needed for the mill to handle the stresses of nitrous. Oh, and maybe the binders, and, possibly the shocks and front end parts. BTW, the last Hyundai I handled -- a Sonata in consumer trim -- was not a bad piece of work. The ride was a little overdone for my choice -- I prefer the Ford outside, but, sometimes circumstance says, you have to take what you are given -- and the steering was a bit on the the light and numb side, but, I drove front-drive Pontiacs without power steering, so I've seen the other side, too. And, you know what? I'll take the Hyundai. The Ponti's were just too much work.