Archive for the ‘charger’ Tag

Challenge Won: We Do 11 Seconds in the Dodge Charger Hellcat

The 2015 Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat unleashes a ludicrous 707 horsepower from its supercharged 6.2-liter V-8 to offer mad acceleration — the kind of white-knuckled blast of speed that’s not for the timid. The Charger SRT Hellcat, along with its coupe stablemate the Challenger SRT Hellcat, is a straight-line beast that’s very much at home on the drag strip, though it’s not too shabby on a road course either. Plus, it doesn’t fail to impress people you pass on the street.

Last year we tracked the then-new 2015 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat coupe down the quarter-mile to the tune of 11.41 seconds. While we came short of Dodge’s quarter-mile claim of 11.2 seconds, there was no doubting the capability was there waiting to be unleashed.

The Charger is even faster in Hellcat form. Drag strip durability testing was also built into the rocket ship masquerading as a family sedan’s development program. The automaker says the Charger Hellcat can run the quarter-mile in a ridiculously quick 11.0 seconds on factory tires. Few unmodified cars can make that kind of claim.

We set out to see how close we could get to 11.0 seconds with a factory-fresh 2015 Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat and drag strip rental of Byron Dragway in Byron, Ill.

Like the Challenger, the biggest obstacle is the rear-wheel-drive Charger simply wants to obliterate the relatively skinny, hard-sidewall street tires when trying to lay 700-plus horsepower to the ground. Our Charger was equipped with optional $195 Pirelli P Zero 275/40R20 summer tires, though that is by no means a solution to harness the Hellcat’s excessive horsepower and torque.

The quickest pass of the day came after 13 attempts of tweaking the launch, burnout, starting line preparation, electronic driving modes and tire pressure. After all that work we were rewarded with a blistering run of 11.03 seconds at 126.61 mph. It would be an understatement to say the car proved tricky to drive on its factory tires and a lie to say it was anything but a thrill to see those numbers pop up on the track’s timing board.

Getting to 11.03 seconds was no easy feat despite the Charger only coming with an automatic transmission — often easier to drag race than a manual — and our near-perfect track and weather conditions. We were lucky to have mid-50-degree temperatures rushing cool air through the V-8’s cooling systems and track conditions fit for cars much faster than the Hellcat. The drag strip’s track surface was prepped in various ways to assist tire grip, a normal drag strip practice. Along with the 11.03-second pass, we also ran 11.09 seconds and a number of 11.1-second passes.

There wasn’t a single lightbulb-over-the-head moment when clicking off the 11.03-second pass. It took a combination of tweaks, starting with the burnout. Our best run with the tires at factory pressure was 11.27 seconds before we dropped the tires to 25 pounds per square inch. Getting the right amount of heat in the tires proved to be imperative. The best burnout sequence included clicking the paddle shifters quickly to 3rd gear once the tires started roasting and waiting for tire smoke to show in the rearview mirror before riding out the burnout to just before the starting line to minimize tire temperatures loses. Anything higher or lower than a 160-degree tire temperature and we experienced falloff in bite.

The Hellcat’s electronic gadgetry sequence that worked best for our runs included switching the electronic stability system from Off during the burnout to Sport before launching. Sport mode gave the best balance of traction management and forward momentum compared with the Street and Track modes. The suspension’s softest Street mode provided the best weight transfer to the rear, and the transmission was left in automatic shifting but in the Track setting.

Getting the Charger Hellcat out of the hole was best accomplished by leaving the line as smoothly as possible from idle by gently squeezing the pedal before rolling into wide-open throttle at roughly the 60-foot mark on the drag strip; a drag strip’s timing system measure distance in intervals of 60 feet, 330 feet, an eighth-mile, 1,000 feet and a quarter-mile. Lower 60-foot times are a good indication of how well the car is leaving the starting line. The 1.77 seconds of the 11.03 run was bested by a 1.72-second 60-foot later in the day, but that run was botched when the tires let loose on the 2nd-gear shift, ending what could have been a glorious 10-second pass. It was the one that got away.

Our run of 11.03 seconds in the quarter-mile is insane for a sedan you can buy straight off the showroom floor. For that kind of hellacious acceleration the $63,290 starting price seems reasonable.

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Hellcat Challenger picks up 34whp with only a tune (video)

The 2015 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat is the most powerful muscle car of all time, with a supercharged 6.2L Hellcat Hemi producing a bone chilling 707 horsepower and 650 lb-ft of torque, according to the official marketing materials.

From the time that the first media outlets got hold of the Hellcat Challenger, it looked as though the 707/650 figures were a bit underrated; and the owner of the 2015 Challenger SRT Hellcat in the video below wanted to see just how much power his new Mopar muscle car made in stock form, so he took it to a dyno shop for a baseline dyno run and for tuning – tuning which turned out some incredible numbers.


The 2015 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat shown below in Sublime Green is owned by Ohio resident John Michael Hansen. Mr. Hansen is no stranger to high performance vehicles; his current garage is occupied by a Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT, a built Lancer Evolution X, a built Nissan GTR, a built MKIV Toyota Supra, and a supercharged Ram 1500 SRT10.

Aside from the Jeep, all of John’s cars are modified and all of them are supercharged, so it should come as no surprise that this horsepower junkie was one of the first people in line when the 2015 Challenger Hellcat went on sale.

Once Mr. Hansen took delivery of his 2015 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat, he took it to Accelerated Performance to see just how much power it made in factory stock form. The 2015 Hellcat Challenger in the video below made 646 horsepower and 585lb-ft of torque at the rear wheels; considering the official power numbers of 707hp and 650lb-ft of torque at the crankshaft, Hansen’s Hellcat is losing only about 9% of the power between the engine and the wheels, which is a clear indication that the car is indeed underrated or that the Hellcat Challenger has an extremely efficient automatic transmission, as most self-shifting cars lose at least 12% of their power at the wheels.

hansen-stock-hellcat-dyno-chart -2

After getting a baseline dyno reading on his 2015 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat, John Michael Hansen had Torrie McPhail of Unleashed Tuning see how much extra power they could squeeze from the stock Hellcat. Using an HPTuners tuning tool, McPhail was able to increase the output at the wheels from 646hp and 585lb-ft of torque to 680 horsepower and 616 torque.

With no other modifications, simply tuning the stock computer to optimize performance allowed Mr. Hansen’s Hellcat Challenger to pick up 34 horsepower and 31 lb-ft of torque at the rear wheels. Provided that we use the somewhat comical 9% drivetrain loss that we calculated above, this Challenger is making no less than 740 horsepower and 671 lb-ft of torque at the motor…from a car with no modifications and a simple engine computer tune.

Those are high stock numbers to begin with, and amazing tuned numbers for the 2015 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat; and with Mr. Hansen planning to do more to his new Mopar muscle car, we could see even bigger numbers from this Sublime beast in the coming months. In the meantime, crank up your speakers and fall in love with the roar of this tuned Hellcat on the dyno.

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Hellcat Challenger makes its pop culture debut

Opinion. After the 2015 Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat made its music video debut in Eminem’s “Guts Over Fear” video, the two-door Mopar muscle car packing the 707 horsepower Hellcat Hemi has made its own popular culture debut.

Like the Hellcat Charger, the supercharger Challenger has scored a role in a rap video, but where the Charger made a cameo appearance, the Challenger is a main character in this new video. Best of all, joining the Hellcat Challenger in this new rap video is another 2015 Challenger that appears to be a V6 SXT model based on the lack of obvious badging.

I have to say that this isn’t my type of music and, honestly, I’ve never heard of most of the guys rapping in this video, so the Hellcat Challenger doesn’t get the same level of attention that the Charger did with the Eminem video. However, this is an official video from the new The Fast and the Furious series movie Furious 7, so not only will it get lots of attention from the hip-hop community, but it will also get plenty of attention from fans of the FATF movie series — indeed, close involvement with the series has played a part in more than 3 million people watching the “Ride Out” video. All of those people have watched the Hellcat Challenger and the 2015 Challenger SXT tearing it up in the video.

This injection of the 2015 Challenger in both V6 and Hellcat form into the rap world is a big deal, as this type of non-traditional marketing attracts much younger buyers, and while they may not be able to afford a Hellcat, the V6 Challenger shown doing many of the same stunts as the 707hp version should help the SXT model appeal to those who are looking for an affordable muscle car.

So, if you hate rap music, it is probably best to watch the first music video featuring the Hellcat Challenger and the 2015 Challenger SXT with the volume turned down, but it’s still fun to watch the various Mopars in this piece getting down and dirty for the video and for the new Furious 7 movie.

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I have a friend who gets press cars nearly every week. Sometimes the cars are pretty cool. Sometimes not so much. In any case, I’ve been patiently waiting and FINALLY he got something I was excited about. A 2015 Dodge Challenger 6.4L Scat Pack. Phantom Black. Nice.

Now all I needed to do was finagle a ride or two while he had the car.

When he found out he was getting a Scat Pack, he asked me about it. Not normally one to keep quiet about such things, this time I simply said, “You’ll like it.” Further attempts to gain information from me were met with the same reply. (In retrospect, I realize this was not the most charming way to earn the joyride I so deeply wanted.)

So he turned to the Internet and suddenly I heard, “4,200 pounds?!?!”

To this I chuckled and said, “It is a heavy car.” And it was on. I thought I would never hear the end of it.

Then, he drove the car.

Suddenly, the weight was less of an issue. Instead, he told me how much he enjoyed driving this car. He liked the interior—both the spaciousness and the quality. The technology is advanced, yet easy to use. (Uconnect is definitely one of his new favorite toys.) Everything is available at the touch of a button without being overly complicated.

The Challenger Scat Pack doesn’t make apologies for what it is. Nor does it pretend to be something it’s not. It is a big, heavy, powerful car and it handles as such. Carrying 52 percent of its weight in the front, it does require a skilled driver. As my friend put it, you can’t be lazy when you’re driving it or you’ll find yourself in trouble.

Of course, a skilled driver in a controlled environment can also have some serious fun in this car. Spin outs, 360s, a little bit of showboating … entertaining and impressive to those watching and, of course, all in good fun.

The look of Phantom Black is menacing. Put together with the throaty exhaust note and this car got plenty of attention. I have to admit one of my favorite parts about riding in the car was watching all of the other American muscle cars slowly roll up next to us at stoplights. It was great to look over and see the other drivers checking out the car. (I swear I’ve never seen as many Camaros as I did the afternoon we were out driving the Scat.) Maybe a little less so when it was a member of law enforcement doing the same.

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What can we expect from the 2015 Dodge Charger R/T

The new Dodge Charger R/T is like the high-school athlete whose brothers have gone on to star in college and pro ranks. Indeed, with the formidable Hellcat V-8 and the SRT 392 hogging the spotlight, the kid brother’s credentials pale. After all, the 392 packs 485 horsepower and the Hellcat lays a 707-horse smackdown, heady numbers that could make one perceive the R/T’s 5.7-liter Hemi V-8 as a little tame.

Do not be deceived. Unless you have an insatiable appetite for shredding tires, the 5.7’s output—370 horsepower, 395 lb-ft of torque—will satisfy most needs for speed. Okay, the R/T is governed to a mere 145 mph versus the Hellcat’s 204, but you’ll still reach the Chinese takeout place before they pack up your food, and 5.1 seconds to 60 mph will leave most sedans gasping for breath.

Track Pack Plus

Surprisingly, given its mass, the R/T has a good dynamic résumé. The driver is aware of the substantial, two-plus-ton curb weight, but the Charger’s chassis tuning mitigates that number very well.

Thanks to a rigid unibody, the basic Charger R/T nicely manages yaw, pitch, and roll. But those who love to drive are advised to get the 29R Customer Preferred pack, which upgrades the car, as it did on our test example, to Road & Track spec. Doing so means a cornucopia of goodies including the Super Track Pak sport suspension; the Road & Track Performance Group with more aggressive throttle mapping, revised traction control (higher intervention threshold), heavy-duty brakes, 20-inch aluminum wheels, and sportier rubber (245/45 Goodyear Eagle RS-A2 all-season performance tires); and Dodge’s Performance Pages software, which allows the driver to track acceleration, cornering, and a variety of other numeric markers.

There’s a lot of other desirable stuff crammed into the 29R package, too, including nappa leather upholstery, ventilated front seats, heated rear seats (heated front chairs come on every R/T), a power tilt and telescope steering column, a heated steering wheel, power-adjustable pedals, and heated power mirrors, to hit a few high spots. At $3000 for all the foregoing equipment, it’s a must-have bargain collection.

Augmented by all the Track Pack goodies, the R/T dances even more remarkably well for a big car, the combination of quick (2.5 turns lock-to-lock), gratifyingly accurate electric power steering and firm suspension making it easy to place the car precisely where the driver wishes. And there’s enough grip to inspire confidence in very fast cornering.

It’s also very easy to develop affection for the eight-speed automatic. Shifts in the Charger aren’t quite as whap-whap quick as those delivered by some of the very best dual-clutch automatics, but one could call them deliberate, and in manual mode the transmission will hold the selected gear against redline—no autonomous upshifting.

The eight-speed is new for this year and slightly enhances EPA fuel economy versus last year’s five-speed unit, adding 1 mpg to the car’s city rating. That means 16 mpg in urban environs and 25 on the highway, on midgrade fuel, which is pretty good for a big V-8. We averaged 18 mpg in mixed driving. Would economy go up if the Hemi were fitted with direct fuel injection? Probably. But fuel economy isn’t a high priority for Hemi fans, nor for cars operating in this performance realm.

The car doesn’t have many demerits, and those it does have aren’t deal-breakers. We’ve already mentioned mass; cutting the curb weight would further improve handling and efficiency. The suspension tuning that gives the R/T its athletic reflexes can be a little stiff on gnarly pavement, and while grip—0.86 g—isn’t exactly a weak suit, it could be improved by a set of real summer performance tires.

Such tires would probably improve the braking performance, too, as 170 feet from 70 mph is long for a car with sports-sedan pretense. We detected no real fade in the system, but the pedal did begin to go a little soft after repeated hard stops.

The Right Stuff

Considered in standard trim and before its 2015 refresh, the Charger ranked behind mainstream sedan offerings like the Toyota Avalon and the Chevy Impala in our comparison test. But for the owner who wants a strong performance component in the everyday drive, the new R/T has the right stuff for an agreeable $33,990 starting MSRP.

Our test car got expensive quickly, however. In addition to the $3000 Preferred/R&T stuff (again, don’t leave the showroom without it), it had $6975 of additional options. These included $995 for Beats audio gear; $1795 for the Technology Group (rain-sensing wipers, auto high beams, and safety nannies); $295 for Driver Confidence equipment (blind-spot and cross-path warning, exterior puddle lamps); and $695 for navigation, infotainment goodies, and a backup camera. Our car also was fitted with a power sunroof ($1195), Redline Red paint ($500), and a black-painted roof ($1500).

The grand total came to $43,965. That’s more than the cheap-speed $40,990 R/T Scat Pack, although still well shy of the $48,380 Charger SRT 392. (The wild and wooly Hellcat opens at $64,990.) In any case, there do seem to be some opportunities for whittling. Okay, the red paint is probably important, as it emphasizes the aggressive styling. On the other hand, do you really need the safety technology, puddle lamps, or the black roof?

Options notwithstanding, this Charger figures as an underappreciated performance bargain in a full-size sedan. It’s everyday useful and ready to rock every day.

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Hellcat options (with prices)

The 2015 Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat follows the expected SRT form, coming with a long list of standard features inside and out. There aren’t all that many options for buyers, since the $62,295 car includes everything that you need to love every single second of driving the 2015 Charger Hellcat, including heated leather seats and a high end infotainment system. Still, you can add some unique features to make your car different from the other examples of the world’s most powerful production sedan.

First off, the 2015 Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat MSRP of $62,295 does not include the $1,700 gas guzzler tax or the $995 destination fee, which combine to bring the base price of the 707hp Charger to $64,990. In theory, that is the least that you can expect to pay when buying a Hellcat Charger from your local dealership before you get to cashing in favors or haggling.

The 2015 Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat has seven standard (no cost) exterior colors and three premium colors that add $500 to the final price. The “free” colors are Billet Silver, Bright White, Granite Crystal, Jazz Blue, Pitch Black, TorRed, and B5 Blue, while the colors that will run you an extra half grand include Ivory White Tri-Coat Pearl, Phantom Black Tri-coat Pearl, and Redline Tri-Coat Pearl.

All Hellcat Chargers come with the same lightweight wheel design, but those who want the Brass Monkey Bronze wheels can go that direction for $395 and to wrap those gorgeous wheels in 3-season performance tires will set you back another $195. Finally, if you want the black roof treatment, you can go that route for an additional $1,500.

On the inside, the 2015 Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat can be compared to a high end luxury car, with standard leather SRT performance seats with Alcantara inserts in black or bright red and black. Those who want a more luxurious look and feel can opt for a Laguna leather package in either black or sepia and black, for $1,795, while bright red seat belts can be added for $95 to brighten things up.

The Hellcat Charger comes with an impressive standard infotainment system, including the elaborate SRT Pages, but adding navigation runs an extra $695, and if you want a state of the art Harmon Kardon sound system connected to the infotainment system, that will add $1,995 to the bottom line. Lovers of the clear blue sky can add a sunroof to their Hellcat Charger for $1,195.

While you can drive off of the lot with an incredible super sedan for $64,990, adding every option to the 2015 Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat brings the price to $71,855 (Phantom Black Tri-coat Pearl paint, Brass Monkey wheels, 3-season tires, Laguna leather, red seats and seat belts, navigation, Harmon Kardon sound system, and sunroof, with gas-guzzler tax and destination fee). Oh, and ther’s also a black roof treatment, which would bring the price up to $73,355.

These are preliminary prices, which could change before the 2015 Charger SRT Hellcat arrives early next year, but these figures should be accurate enough to let those planning to buy a 707hp Mopar sedan figure out how much they will be spending to own the world’s most powerful mass-production sedan.

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Report Why the Charger Hellcat can’t be ordered with a manual transmission

Fans of truly irreverent amounts of horsepower will find lots to love in the form of the 2015 Dodge Challenger and Charger Hellcat models. Both of them send 707 ridiculous horsepower to the rear wheels; the only question is whether you want your absurdity delivered with two or four doors. Oh, and whether or not you want the option of a manual transmission.

If you prefer rowing your own gears, the choice is made for you; there is no manual gearbox option available on the Charger Hellcat, or any Charger model at all, for that matter. Wonder why? Well, besides the fact that almost nobody – sorry, clutch fans, but it’s true – would choose to buy a Charger with a manual transmission, that is? The answer, according to an industry insider in a post written on Jalopnik’s Opposite Lock forum, is the floorpan.

It’s probably not a surprise to most of our readers that the Dodge Challenger and Charger share a large portion of their chassis structure, which is codenamed LX at Chrysler, but there are still some significant differences under the skin due to the shorter wheelbase and two-door coupe bodyshell of the Challenger, as opposed to the sedan shape of the Charger. One of the differences is the floorpan, the huge chunk of sheetmetal that makes up the floor of the car and props up such essential items as the car’s seats.

According to user doodon2whls, the Dodge Challenger was crash tested way back in 2008 when it first hit the market with a floorpan stamping that can accommodate a manual transmission. The Charger, though, was crash tested and approved by the government two years earlier with the automatic-transmission floorpan stamping only, which means it would need to be completely recertified for sale in the US, with new crash tests included, if Dodge decided to offer it with a six-speed manual. That’s an expensive proposition, especially considering how few manual models Dodge would ever sell.

Good thing, then, that the eight-speed automatic transmission that Dodge pairs with pretty much all of its rear-wheel-drive vehicles is such a good unit. Having tested numerous Charger and Challenger models in all states of tune and with every available transmission option, we’re here to tell you that you’ll be plenty pleased with the Hellcat’s 707 horsepower, whether it’s being channeled through an automatic or manual transmission.

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2015 Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat First Drive Review

There’s an insuppressible sense of buoyancy among Dodge folks of late. Certainly, it can’t be attributed to the Dart compact or the complete lack of a Dodge-brand entry in the hugely popular mid-size-sedan segment. It’s not even that the Viper sports car has been newly re-Dodged after wearing only an SRT badge in 2013–14. No, the smiles on the faces of the Dodge Boys folks are on account of one special thing, and its name is Hellcat.

By now, you’ve surely heard about Dodge’s prodigious supercharged Hellcat V-8—that it takes 80 horsepower just to run its supercharger, which can suck the air from a 10-by-13-foot room in one minute, and that its fuel injectors can fill a pint glass in six seconds. Oh, and that it produces 707 horsepower and 650 lb-ft of torque, which turn the Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat from a mere muscle car into a ballistic, five-seat supercar capable of hitting 60 mph in 3.6 seconds and passing the quarter-mile in 11.7 seconds at 126 mph, according to our first test, with a claimed top speed of 199 mph.

Now Dodge plunks that angry mill into the 2015 Charger SRT Hellcat to create the world’s most powerful production sedan. Dodge says it can rocket to 60 mph in 3.7 seconds on its way to an NHRA-certified quarter-mile at 11 seconds flat (on street tires), with a top speed of 204 mph. We have not yet tested those claims with our own equipment, but after our first stint behind the wheel in rural Virginia and West Virginia, including a few hours on-track at Summit Point Motorsports Park, we will verify its ability to create huge grins.

Big, fat, shit-eating grins. While the Charger may be the more, ahem, mature Hellcat, it created the same fits of uncontrollable gasping, giggling, and cursing every time we stabbed the go pedal. Like its two-door sibling, the Charger Hellcat is seriously fast, is no joke at the track, and makes sounds best described as NSFW. Yet the Charger is a friendlier, more approachable creature, thanks in large part to a suspension tuned more for street performance—“touring,” in car speak—than for track-day or drag-strip craziness.

“The philosophy is a little bit different,” said Russ Ruedisueli, head of engineering for SRT. “On the Challenger, we wanted the car to be sprung a little bit stiffer, there to be a little less roll. On the Charger, there’s more of an emphasis on ride. It’s not to say that you’ll be embarrassed out on the track, you know, but it’s not a ‘track car.’ ” Specifically, the springs and shocks are softer, the anti-roll bars aren’t quite as thick, and the amount of slip allowed by the traction and stability control is recalibrated. These changes make allowance for the four-door’s longer wheelbase, stated 4575-pound curb weight (probably close to accurate; our scales said the Challenger weighs 4488 while Dodge claimed 4439), and its 56/44 versus 57/43 weight distribution.

Yet it hardly embarrasses itself on a circuit. After switching all chassis and powertrain settings to “Track,” we tackled Summit Point and immediately got comfortable with the car’s sharp turn-in and tidy, predictable body motions. It always drives big (because, with a wheelbase of 120.4 inches, it is big), but the steering—hydraulically assisted for the Hellcat, versus electric for other Chargers—is talkative and ultimate grip is quite high. Powering hard out of the curves, the rear end breaks away gradually and predictably yet is easily catchable with a bit of opposite lock. Driven smoothly, this is not a scary cat.

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No 2015 Super Bee

Allpar member “redriderbob” wrote that he spoke with Tim Kuniskis at the Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat launch; Mr. Kiniskis, who heads Dodge, said that the SRT brand structure is too confusing with SRT Core models, Super Bees, special edition packages on Charger, and such; it is difficult for the customer to know what kind of models they are looking at, and it is hard for sales staff at dealerships to learn the chaos.

According to the member, the Super Bee’s last year will be 2014, and he is “aligning the Charger and Challenger options to be identical.” The Super Bee and Core will be replaced by the Scat Pack 392, which “adds more content at a lower, more affordable price for the customer. It will be the best value four-door muscle car on the market.”

When asked if the days of the 392 were limited, he stated, “Absolutely not! People that don’t have the need for the extreme power of the Hellcat, but want a great handling muscle car with great power will be able to have the regular SRT392 model. There will be enough content in both Charger and Challenger SRT 392 models to keep them very separate and desirable for the customer who wants it.”

When asked why Dodge had not said much about 2015 Chargers other than the R/T and police pursuit editions, Mr. Kuniskis said they wanted to fully focus on the launch of the 2015 Dodge Challenger, and that the rest of the Charger lineup would be unveiled in the next month or so. All Chargers other than Hellcat (slated for January production) will be available by the end of the year.

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The full Dodge Challenger line, on the road and track: SXT to Hellcat

Largely overlooked as the media and public focus on the 707-horespower Hellcat Challenger is the standard 392 car, still a highly respectable package with a great deal of power. This was the first of the 2015 Dodge Challengers I took out on a road course in Portland, with a good mix of curves, straights, streets, and freeways.

With Track mode, at first it felt too heavy, but after driving with it for a while, I decided that I would probably end up using that daily. It was firm, but not too firm. If I lived in a pothole prone area, I might change my tune on that a bit, but with the mostly smooth roads we have out here, it’s just fine, especially if you enjoy “spirited” driving.

I grew to love that car in that trip. If I had my choice, I might well pick an SRT 392 over a Hellcat. The overall look and balance of the car that suits me. Enough power to have a ton of fun, and still be quicker than 99% of the cars on the road, but not so much that you are afraid to drive it at 10/10ths all the time.

At the track, my first car was a Challenger hellcat. Jim, the lead Portland Raceway instructor, said, “This car rewards smooth driving, and patience. If you are a herky jerky driver, and are impatient, you will not be able to drive this car well at all.”

They had the Hellcats all in Street mode for both traction control and suspension to help prevent drivers whose confidence exceeded their ability from destroying one of these cars, and to keep them from hurting themselves or someone else.

If you don’t stay fairly close to the wall, the track will tend to suck you out into the weeds. In the dry, the Hellcats were seeing 140 there. My first time through at speed in the wet, I was at 110. By the last set of laps on the day, I touched 130 there.

About half way through that wall hugging back straight/sweeper, the race surface has some ripples to it that unsettle the chassis. Not so big a deal in the dry, but very unnerving in the wet, especially when you have a car that can break the tires loose at will at anything below 100mph in the wet.

Entering the straight for the first time at speed, I finally rolled into the Hellcat hard in 3rd gear for the first time. We were using the red key, so all 707hp and 650 ft/lbs of torque was available to me. Past 3/4 throttle in 3rd gear I was starting to get tire spin, Jim suggested I short-shift it to keep the torque down and lessen the tire spin potential. Suggestion followed. Dang! It works like a champ.

Up into 5th just before the braking zone. Hard on those superb brakes, 20% to set the car, 80% to slow it, then back to 20% for the corner. Downshifting at the same time as well, from 5th, to 4th, down to 3rd. I could have probably gone to 2nd in the dry, but that would have just been tire spin city in the wet. So, about 2000 rpm in 3rd rounding the sharp left of turn 2, gently rolling into the throttle across the changing track surface, till it smooths, roll on it hard for a second, then on the brakes again to slow for the upcoming right. Still in 3rd gear, you maintain the throttle through the sweeper and through the transition into the off camber left sweeper that makes you wait and wait until you can apply power again.

I found the dry spot on the track, rolled into the power hard till the braking cones ahead. Brake, right, whoa squirrelly, lift gently and wait to apply throttle till the car is pointed straight, dangit! Roll into 4th, 5th right as we cross the bumpy part of the back stretch, braking cones fast approaching, downshift, brake, downshift, turn left, roll into it a bit, brake slightly, turn right on the entrance to the sweeper for the front straight. Rinse and repeat, and learn from your mistakes.

The hardest part about driving that car hard in the wet is the urge to use the throttle while in a turn or turning. All that will do is pivot the car around in the wrong way. So it’s almost a tension, a strain, to not over use the throttle.

I had an interesting conversation with an SRT chassis engineer about the wheel hop. It comes down to tires and bushings. The factory has to use tires that will last a certain number of miles, with bushing material that does both damping of noise and resists displacement. For tires, noise damping usually wins out over displacement; these vehicles are built to the general public’s standard, not the enthusiast’s standard. If you use harder tires, it will lessen the hop, if you use softer tires, it will lessen the hop. If you could get more deflection resistant bushings for the rear suspension pieces it would lessen the hop, but at the factory level, none of that can be done because of the other criteria that those components have to meet. Good enough answer for me, and makes a ton of sense.

I then drove an SRT 392. The Hellcats I had been driving were stick cars (the autos were hard to get a ride in) so I was also very keen to try the ZF 8 speed out as well. I set everything to track mode in the SRT Performance Pages, got myself settled, and waited.

Here is the car that can be driven at 10/10ths at all times. I only had one guy in front of me, he was in a Scat Pack. I had caught up to him on the warmup lap, and passed him on the front straight at the beginning of lap 2. The ZF automatic is great for braking, as you can just pop the left lever to get engine braking downshifts while climbing all over those same brakes that the Hellcat wears. And then roll hard back into the throttle, and pop the right lever to upshift when you want, or just leave it be and the computer get it done.

The computer is pretty spot on. Half the time I was getting it just before it would do it on its own, the other half of the time it was just getting there as I was ready to bump it myself. By the end of the 4th lap, I was only a straightaway behind the last car behind. I don’t know how much time I made up on them, but I was flying in comparison. I got out with a huge grin on my face and a spring to my step. That was a great feeling.

I had an absolute blast with that one. The Hellcat was hard work to drive fast. The SRT 392 was just a hoot to drive fast. I am not sure that the Hellcat would have been any quicker on this day. I know I had a huge grin when I got out of the SRT 392, whereas getting out of the Hellcats it was more akin to relief at not dying this time out.

I did have a chance to take each of the “lesser” cars out:

The SXT felt nice. It was pretty Spartan, and honestly, I can agree with the complaints about the small face radio. The 5” thing has no place in the middle of that big opening. The V6, while not a powerhouse, is certainly adequate for moving the Challenger around. The shifts seemed kind of mushy to me, but on reflecting back, I had just gotten out of a SRT392 in track mode shifting, and that’s so crisp and quick, that it would make a light switch seem mushy. So for the average commuter, that is just looking for a dang good looking car, with enough power to be enjoyable, and still return good mileage, the SXT is your car. I would however recommend stepping up to the Track Pack package on the car. It lowers the ride height by 1/2”, and gives you the paddle shifters that are fun to use. I believe it also gives rev matching downshifts.

Next up was the 5.7 R/T. I have spent many thousands of miles driving an 2009 R/T Challenger; it feels pretty much the same as far as power goes, though the 8 speed does, along with the revised suspension bits, make the car seem more connected than the previous generation. Again, I would recommend the Track Pack for added driving enjoyment. This is a perfect car for someone who wants a middle of the road solution. More power and options than the SXT level, but still wants to maintain a modicum of mileage capability.

R/T Scat Pack 392. This is basically the old SRT Core model, but for less money, and more content. This is your bang for the buck car, the truest muscle car of the bunch frankly. Big engine, few options, brash looks. Same power as the SRT 392, but with the last generation brakes, a two mode suspension, and not all the trick toys. It does however share the exhaust system so you get that same rock band soundtrack. The Shaker version is the sharpest looking in my opinion, and you can at least option the Scat Pack cars with the red suede inserts.

If you want to go fast in a relatively straight line for as budget minded as you can be, this is your ride. This is today’s 383 Road Runner/ Super Bee. It is entirely possible that this car could be quicker on a drag strip than the SRT 392. Not by much, but by some. The added options and such in the SRT392 will tend to slow it down some in comparison to the more Spartan Scat Pack car.

SRT 392. The SRT 392 strikes such a balance of power, poise and overall performance, that it really is a shame that it is being so overshadowed by its belligerent big brother. The Hellcat is phenomenal, but this SRT 392 is something else altogether. It benefits from the Hellcat suspension and brakes, while not gaining the weight of all the supercharger bits and supporting pieces. It has its own, unique hood, that SRT claims was based off of the Viper GTS hood, but all I see is AAR ’Cuda when I see that hood on an E-body shape.

Where the Hellcat is Thor’s hammer, ready to decimate small villages with a single blow, the SRT 392 could be likened more to a jeweler’s hammer. Just the right size, not to heavy, not too light, with the ability to craft such beautiful works that it dazzles the mind. Is it so terrible that we have this and the monster that is the Hellcat to choose from? Please do not overlook this car if you are shopping in this price range.

Hellcat. That word alone has already made such a huge impression on the automotive world, that by itself, the word evokes thoughts of brutal power, unyielding force, and a general toughness that so eloquently describe this car. Pick your poison, stick shift for those that want to truly master and tame the beast, or a superb automatic, for those that want to get every last bit out of this monster that can be extracted.

If you want the baddest of the bad, the best of the best, and are unafraid to have your lion taming chair and whip at the ready every time to start this ’Cat, then this is your calling. This car is not for the faint of heart. While it can be driven civilly, and can be civil, it is in no way shape or form tame. It really is akin to someone taking a baby wild tiger cub into their home. Yes, they can train it to be nice, yes it will socialize, and yes, it will most likely never be an issue. But, after it’s fully grown, at its heart, and always within a microsecond of reaction or a mistake on your part, it is a wild, untamed beast that with one swipe or bite can kill you. This car should come with a manual that on the outside has a wrapper, which says “Handle with Caution!”

I might be slightly overstating it to get a point across, but I want to leave the impression that this car is too much for most people to handle. Chrysler has done a phenomenal job in taming this beast. But even they admit (Tim Kusinikis) that this car is for the 5%. Not the 5% that can afford it though, the 5% that knows how to responsibly use the power. Because, there will always be that temptation to use the red key and find out what it will do. Regrettably, I think that possibly, not many Hellcats will make it to their tenth birthday.

The car is an absolute wonder, it can do amazing things, is more exciting to drive than a box full of fireworks that has caught on fire, and, in the right hands, will be an absolutely brutal opponent in the car wars that are the drag strip and the standing mile, and even on Road Race courses. If you relish a challenge, then the Dodge SRT Hellcat Challenger has growled its response to that challenge.

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