Has Dodge created the best musclecar ever built in the form of its new Challenger SRT Hellcat? Yes. And no. Purists will argue the supercharged 707hp beast must have a manual transmission to be the ultimate street car, but those folks dwell in the past. The world has evolved and so, too, must we. Welcome to 2015.
I questioned the timing of receiving the “hottest thing on wheels” as my week behind the wheel coincided with the G7 leaders gathering and announcing a concerted effort toward the abolishment of fossil fuel use. Two worlds collided but in full honesty I did not find myself in a dilemma, as I greedily enjoyed every moment the 2015 Dodge SRT Challenger Hellcat was firing it’s supercharged 6.2-liter V-8 HEMI internal combustion engine.
Granted some may think of my time in the Hellcat as nothing more than a travesty on the natural world but I did not find any of those last week, instead everyone I encountered seemed to be just as enthusiastic as myself that there are still cars coming from U.S. automakers that celebrate the passion of driving. The world has evolved indeed, and this may be the last of a breed destined for museums and private collections. Alternative fuels and hybrid powertrains are the reality of transportation in the future but for now we can celebrate the heritage that is and was American muscle.
Hellcat is the pinnacle of the Fiat Chrysler Automobile performance division known as SRT or Street and Racing Technology. This is the most powerful engine the brand has ever produced and it is available in limited production in Challenger and Charger models. It comes only mated to a new TorqueFlite eight-speed automatic transmission and the technology behind it all is dizzying.
Challenger is the biggest and heaviest of the Detroit sport coupes – a list that also includes Camaro and Mustang. Modern Challenger styling pays homage to iconic models of yesteryear while including all of the modern safety, technologies, and creature comforts today’s consumers have come to know and trust.
I recently reviewed the 2015 Dodge Challenger Scat Pack that features the SRT 6.4-liter V-8 generating 485hp and is available with a manual gearbox. This car, and it’s Hellcat engine, is one of the most incredible driving experiences one will ever know. Hellcat will be honored in history as unique and the first to breach the 700hp mark for a street legal vehicle. This is race car territory and this is a car you can – in theory – buy right off the showroom floor. With a warranty. And air conditioning. And navigation, for the times you decide to turn the steering wheel after every quarter-mile or so.
The Hellcat package adds larger Brembo brakes, unique matte black forged aluminum wheels with 20-inch summer performance tires, functional hood scoop and heat extractors, matte black rear spoiler, SRT steering wheel with paddle shifters, anti-spin rear differential, all-speed traction control, SRT tuned Bilstein 3-mode active suspension system, 200-MPH speedometer, SRT gauge cluster, SRT performance pages, launch control, and a $1,700 gas guzzler tax. What this all boils down to is the baddest cat prowling the streets today.
The Hellcat engine itself has high performance parts at every turn and is the first application of V-8 supercharger technology in the SRT garage. It generates 707hp and 650 lb. ft. of torque. For those of you silly enough to question fuel economy the car is rated at 13 mpg city and 22 mpg highway but, in my opinion, if you achieve those figures you deserve to have your man card taken away. Oh, please drive responsibly, that is all.
The car itself arrives with keyfobs in two different colors – black and red. The black keyfob allows the vehicle to only operate at a maximum engine output of 500hp and is more of a valet keyfob but, again my opinion, if you toss your Hellcat keyfob to a valet you again deserve to lose the man card. And again, please drive responsibly. The red keyfob allows the vehicle to be operated at full power. Think of it as the Dr. Scott keyfob (“I’m givin’ ‘er all she’s got, Cap’n!”)
Drivers can enter the SRT performance pages on the center display and custom tune the performance aspects of engine power, throttle response, transmission shift points, suspension settings, and steering response along with traction control settings from all to none. Engineers have given the car a few presets and I found myself to be enjoying the Sport setting most of the time. SRT apparently has a sense of humor as there is also an Eco setting where all the components of the drivetrain glow green on the screen. Funny.
When showing the Hellcat off for your friends, there is a “parking lot” rev limiter that will not let the engine spin more than 4,000 rpms but even at this limit the car delivers a very decisive growl your friends will enjoy and marvel at. Allow them to ride shotgun and you get to show them how the car sounds (and runs) all the way to it’s redline at about six grand.
My one gripe with the car is that I did not really dig the camel tan leather interior. I would have preferred the two-tone alcantara pseudo-suede like our Scat Pack car arrived in a couple of months ago. I did enjoy the ventilated sport bucket seating as this keeps the driver cool while heating up those rear tires. Again, please drive responsibly.
Pricing for the 2015 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat begins at $58,295 with this tester arriving with a sticker of $66,370. This may be a moot point though as dealers are not even able to fill the waiting lists for the cars and at one point Dodge told dealers to stop taking people’s $10,000 deposits on Hellcats. Demand has been incredible and just firing the engine will tell you why.
The 2015 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat is an incredible car that is simply incredible to drive.