Kia Reveals 2023 Sportage Rebelle Rally Racer: Can You Build One?

Kia is showing off its new rendering of the Rebelle Rally racing rig, and it looks prepped for competition in the annual rally that starts on August 6. Basically, it’s a Sportage with the Sportage X-Pro package. The X-Pro package adds all-terrain tires, some off-road hardware like skid plates, and all-wheel drive. Then, it looks like Kia added a small lift, new wheels and tires, and a roof rack, as well as the required safety gear.

What is the Rebelle rally?

2023 Sportage Rebelle Rally
Kia Sportage Rebelle Rally Rendering | Kia

The Rebelle Rally is a 2,500-kilometer rally through the Nevada and California desert. But, instead of all-out speed, the racers have to be adept with a map and a compass to find hidden checkpoints. They’re scored on time and are not allowed to use a GPS or a cell phone. At all. Teams are two women each, and they can race in the 4×4 class or the X-Cross class. Last year a Ford Bronco Sport won the X-Cross class.

While many manufacturers are creating Rebelle specific competition entries, many are simply run by privateers out to have a good time over eight days. Competitors get three meals a day, water, and encouragement. Ohh, and winners receive a $5,000 credit to compete the next year and bragging rights.

What do the Rebelle’s rules require?

There are basics like $500,000 of property damage insurance and registration, and two drivers who’ve taken navigation course and who have passed a medical examination. Beyond that, the rules are fairly strict. Cars must have safety equipment, but they also must be street legal, registered, and able to travel at the posted speed limit. In fact, awards are given to vehicles that show up without any modifications. VW is prepping an electric ID.4, for example, according to Popular Mechanics.

But, this is an off-road rally in the middle of nowhere so the rules require that drivers bring one extra day’s worth of food, water, and medications, as well as a satellite tracking unit. These guys aren’t messing around. Regardless, there is aftermarket support for the Sportage and the basics like a lift kit are less than $500 and roof racks are less than $1,000. The fancy graphics, though, you’ll need to supply on your own.

Do Rebelle racers have roll cages?

It turns out that, in the rules, the cars are not allowed to have a full tube chassis, like a race truck. Instead, they must be based off a production vehicle. Tires, too, must be DOT approved, and no larger than 35 inches in diameter. Yes, racers can modify their suspensions, but not too much. It has to keep the standard pivot locations. Beyond that, they’re actually not too different from the standard setup.

You can build a Rebelle racer (but you don’t need to)

A green 2023 Kia Sportage X-Pro compact SUV driving on a dirt road as its tires kick up dust clouds
2023 Kia Sportage X-Pro | Kia America

You can absolutely build a Rebelle Rally version of a Sportage or any other car, truck, or SUV. In fact, you don’t need to build anything because even fully stock vehicles are encouraged to run in the rally. They even give prizes for vehicles that show up bone stock, like a Kia Sportage X-Pro.

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