Dodge lets a Hellcat loose
PORTLAND, OR – Something wicked this way comes.
It’s the new 2015 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat, the most powerful muscle car ever,? said Tim Kuniskis, President and CEO of Dodge Brand and SRT Brand, Chrysler Group LLC.
With 707 horsepower and 650 lb/ft of torque, we have unleashed a true GT car with an all-new driver-focused interior, the TorqueFlite eight-speed transmission and the first supercharged Hemi engine Chrysler has ever produced.
The Challenger Hellcat has been released.
Fans of the Brampton-built Challenger have been crossing their fingers and holding their breath, awaiting the Hellcat?s arrival with only vague rumours swirling across the blogosphere, hints of a 600+ hp muscle car that just might surpass the icons of the past.
Well, sometimes the wait is worth it. And sometimes the realization of a dream is just as satisfying as the anticipation.
I was reminding myself of that as I sat in the SRT Hellcat at the Portland International Raceway drag strip start line, about as full of anticipation as you can get.
My breath sounded a little quick in my helmet. My eyes were glued to the ?Christmas Tree? staged start lights. The vibration of monstrous power reverberated up my spine and tingled through my fingertips on the ?T? Shifter.
I stabbed the launch control button to begin the sequence. You hold the brake with your left foot, flatten the gas pedal with your right and, in theory, you have five seconds to release the car into a controlled, full-throttle blitz of acceleration.
But I probably bobbled the accelerator a little because the wheels broke loose from the launch control algorithm and started to spin, the Hellcat HEMI shuddering and straining to release the power.
A little sulphur and brimstone might be fitting for the Hellcat, I thought, but I had to settle for the stink of smoldering rubber, the burning tires spinning and screaming like tormented souls at Satan?s all-eternity barbecue.
And I let go.
G-forces shoved me deep into the seat as the Hellcat goosed forth like it had been prodded with a pitchfork, roaring down the straightaway, the eight-speed automatic thunking through the gear changes, the walls and trees blurring, but only to the tune of a 12 second quarter mile at around 120 mph.
Shucks, I knew I could do better, but the SRT Hellcat was unconcerned and in its element, both on the drag strip and lapping the Portland International Raceway road course.
The new supercharged 6.2-litre Hellcat Hemi V8 is actually a de-stroked and stronger version of Dodge?s 6.4-litre HEMI, mounted with a huge Lysholm-style supercharger that spins at up to 14,600 rpm and could theoretically suck the air out of a standard sized bedroom in just under a minute. The heart of the supercharged engine is a crank that can withstand the massive firing pressures of 110 bar (1,595 psi) ? the equivalent of five family sedans standing on each piston.
The Hellcat V8 engine can be mated with an upgraded six-speed manual topped with a throwback ball shifter, or a beefy, new TorqueFlite eight-speed automatic with a new ?T? Shifter ? the first such gearbox ever offered in the Dodge Challenger SRT segment.
Owners can unlock the power potential through a selection of Drive Modes and each SRT Hellcat comes with two key fobs ? red and black. The red key fob is the only key that can unlock the full horsepower and torque potential of the Challenger SRT Hellcat engine while the black key fob limits the driver to a reduced power output.
A Valet Mode, activated with a four-digit PIN code keeps guest drivers from getting a little too adventurous with your pride and joy.
Also assisting in handling the Challenger SRT Hellcat?s power is the largest front-brake package ever offered in an SRT vehicle, featuring all-new 390 mm (15.4-inch) Brembo two-piece rotors with six-piston calipers, along with a new anti-lock braking system (ABS), ESC and traction control systems.
The Challenger SRT Hellcat stands on ?Slingshot? split seven-spoke 20-inch, lightweight forged-aluminum wheels finished in standard Matte Black finish or optional ?Brass Monkey?/dark bronze finish, mounting 275/40ZR20 Pirelli P Zero (all season) or P Zero Nero (summer) tires.
And all this performance effort is wrapped in a dynamic new aerodynamic package that takes cues from the past and reworks them in a contemporary style.
At the front of the car, a new fascia and all-new vertical-split grille pay tribute to the 1971 Challenger. A more aggressive brow shadows the upper portion of the headlamps (a la Camaro).
A larger, power-bulge aluminum hood scoops with a ?cold-air? intake, a visual styling cue from the first ?96 Viper coupe, bracketed on either side of the hood by air extractors that remove heat and reduce air turbulence in the engine compartment.
And an innovative and exclusive Air Catcher inlet port feeds even more cool ram-air directly into the engine air box through a hole in the driver-side parking lamp
The profile is modernly muscular and sleek and ?SUPERCHARGED? fender badges differentiate the SRT Hellcat from the rest of the herd while in back, new LED taillights also mimic the layout of the 1971 version.
Inside, you?ll find more freshened ?71 styling cues – the driver-oriented dash and ?tic-toc-tach? gauges done in Radar Red, along with a host of modern technologies including the new standard 8.4-inch Uconnect infotainment and communication touchscreen with performance pages, and, if you get tired of listening to the engine roar, a booming 18-speaker harmon/kardon system.
A new, trapezoidal shaped stamped aluminum centre console, mechanical-looking ?T?-shifter for the automatic, and a redesigned SRT-branded, heated, flat-bottomed sport steering wheel complete the interior that, don?t forget, will also seat five in relative comfort.
Okay, some of you are thinking, big deal, a muscle car, and a throwback to an age that is long gone.
Well, true enough. The entire muscle car segment – Challengers, Mustangs and Camaros – makes up less than two per cent of the entire Canadian automotive market. But while we may pooh-pooh vehicles like the Challenger as simply mining the mother lode of a dwindling boomer generation?s taste for nostalgia, they are, after all, the customers who have the cash to spend.
Some of Challenger?s competitors have come back with some power-to-weight ratio challenges but technicalities don?t stir the soul.? And, with Dodge and SRT working closer as the Chrysler?s performance wing, the muscle, the mayhem, the sheer hubris of the Hellcat ensures that the illumination of this ?halo? car also shines on the rest of the Challenger lineup, built on the same ?bones? of panache and performance, which, working down from the 707 hp Hellcat ($63,995), includes the 485 hp SRT 392 6.4-litre V8 ($51,995), the 485 hp Scat Pack 6.4-litre V8 ($45,995), 375 hp R/T 5.7-litre V8 ($36,995), SXT Plus 3.6-litre V6 ($32,995) and SXT 3.6-litre V6 ($28,995).
We?ll take a closer look at those models and additional performance packages later.
After, umm, maybe one or two more wicked spins in the Hellcat.
2015 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat
BODY STYLE: intermediate performance coupe.
DRIVE METHOD: front-engine, rear-wheel drive.
ENGINE: 6.2-litre supercharged Hemi V8 (707 hp, 650 lb/ft)
FUEL ECONOMY: (Regular) TBA
CARGO CAPACITY: 459 litres