Archive for October 17th, 2014|Daily archive page

2015 Dodge Challenger R/T Scat Pack 6.4L Manual

There are two things we need to get straight before we embark on this review of the 2015 Dodge Challenger R/T Scat Pack.

1. No, this is not the Hellcat, as half of the people we encountered thought (or hoped) it was. No, it is not the supercharged one. No, it doesn’t have 700 horsepower.

2. Mopar fans are not like the rest of us. That might just be because Mopars aren’t like other cars. A few bits of evidence: The Mod Top; the “meep, meep” horn on the Road Runner; and a general obsession with cartoon characters. Also, Dodge briefly produced a pickup named the Warlock.

It’s certainly not news that the Challenger is unlike its presumed competition, the Ford Mustang and Chevrolet’s Camaro. It’s a monstrous thing with a buns-up wide rear end; in the tested R/T Scat Pack form, it weighs 416 pounds more than a new Mustang GT. Get out of your head the idea that the Challenger should be as satisfying a sports coupe as the Mustang or Camaro, though, and there is much joy to be had within its outsized dimensions. That’s particularly true in the R/T Scat Pack version, which borrows its rip-snorting 485-hp 6.4-liter V-8 from the pricier Challenger SRT 392. Classic muscle-car strategy there. Bolt it to a firm-shifting Tremec TR-6060 six-speed manual and you have a vehicle capable of matching its lighter competitors at the drag strip (or test track, in this case).

It bludgeoned its way to 60 mph in 4.4 seconds and through the quarter-mile in 12.9 seconds at 113 mph. That’s a tenth of a second quicker than the 2015 Mustang GT in both measures. Sure, it takes the additional 1466 cubic centimeters of engine displacement to get it done. While there are replacements for displacement, a stonking 6.4-liter V-8 is still a pretty effective means to the end. And it sounds positively feral doing the deed. It’s musical enough that we routinely gave it one last throttle pump immediately before shutting it down as a sort of coda to every trip in the car.

Okay, so a monster engine in a big, heavy car can still be a fast thing. But surely that 4226-pound curb weight makes the Challenger a pig, right? Well, yeah, sort of. But it’s a well-mannered pig, anyway. Hop out of a Mustang or a Camaro and directly into the Challenger Scat Pack and you will feel as if you’ve just swapped your pony car/sports coupe for a pickup truck. The perceived size and weight of the Challenger is even greater than the reality.

But, hang on. What’s this? The Challenger’s body, updated for 2015with a few design cues from the 1971 model, is surprisingly well controlled. This pig does not wallow. Instead, it responds promptly to inputs from its big-diameter steering wheel (through a new rack-mounted electric-assist system with a tune specifically for the Scat Pack).

Credit the good manners to the Super Track Pak (no “c” in this Pak, because Mopar heritage) suspension tune. It comes standard on the Scat Pack car (with lowered ride height, Bilstein dampers, and larger front and rear antiroll bars), so this Challenger doesn’t heel over or push excessively. It squats a bit on hard acceleration in time-honored muscle-car tradition. Nothing untoward. Push it to the limit—imagine trying to keep up with a well-driven Mustang GT on a back road—and things start to get sloppy, with the suspension bottoming out on sharp heaves. Cool it a bit, and all is well.

Despite the performance-oriented 20-inch Goodyear Eagle F1 Supercar tires that come with the Scat Pack, the Challenger doesn’t have the ultimate grip of a Mustang GT. At 0.91 g, though, it’s pretty impressive. And the Scat Pack also brings upgraded brakes with larger rotors and Brembo four-piston calipers at all corners. That part is not so old-school. They allow the Challenger to stop from 70 mph in a scant 151 feet, with zero fade over repeated tests.

The point of all of this data recitation is that the driver of a Challenger R/T Scat Pack need not make excuses for its performance. It’s a more capable machine than most will assume.

For 2015, Dodge redesigned all Challenger interiors. It’s now a pleasant enough place to be on long drives, surrounded as you are by softly bulbous black plastic. Unlike the exterior, the inside of the Challenger is modern in appearance, save for the handsomely retro-inflected gauges. And unlike the Mustang and Camaro, you can actually fit adults in the back seat, should that matter.

The information and entertainment interface, consisting largely of a bright 8.4-inch center-mounted touch screen, is intuitive. Our test car came with zero options. Only a $1000 gas-guzzler tax and the $995 destination charge are added to the $37,495 base price, for a total of $39,490. We had no navigation or heated leather seats or any other extraneous frippery to distract us. A base-level Mustang GT with the ($2495) Performance package will undercut the Scat Pack’s price by a few thousand dollars. But there we go again, comparing the Challenger to the Mustang