THE PROS & CONS
- What’s Best: The power and engine sound of the Charger SRT Hellcat are simply intoxicating.
- What’s Worst: Fuel economy, but who cares with a car like this.
- What’s Interesting: This is truly a NAFTA car— the design comes from the U.S., the engine from Mexico and it is assembled in Brampton.
Back in the day, they were called sleepers — cars that looked just like an ordinary sedan or coupe but packed a surprisingly powerful punch under the hood.
Welcome to 2015 and the Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat — a full-size sedan that sets a new standard for the modern day muscle car. One could think of it as the ultimate sleeper car.
By now any auto enthusiast will know about the Hellcat and recognize it for what it is, but the average Joe on the street will still see it as simply a mean looking, tricked out, full-size sedan.
That is until they see it in action!
When you talk about packing a punch under the hood, the Charger SRT Hellcat is as good as it gets.
This is simply the fastest, most powerful full-size production sedan on the planet.
Who says muscle cars are dead?
Certainly not the Dodge division of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA). Dodge offers a Hellcat model in both the Challenger coupe and the Charger sedan.
It’s the Hellcat engine that sets this car on a pedestal for horsepower junkies — 707 ponies and 650 lb/ft of torque to be exact from a supercharged 6.2-litre Hemi V8 engine. The Hellcat is Dodge’s first foray into supercharging and what a debut it has been.
So how fast is it?
Well, it’ll paste you to the back of your seat in a heartbeat when you engage the Launch Control button and put the pedal to the metal. This car will do the quarter mile in 11 seconds and 0-100 km/h in less than four seconds.
Starting at $69,695 ($73,635 as tested), the Charger SRT Hellcat is in a world of its own.
From a distance, the only true indicator that this car is something special is the Hellcat logo on the front fenders. But get up close and you realize this is something different with the large power bulge in the hood and the cold air intake and dual air extractors to exhaust heat from under the hood.
While it has the familiar Charger look, Dodge and SRT designers re-sculpted and refined nearly every body panel with functional performance cues. It also has unique front and rear fascias and snazzy LED lighting front and rear.
Power to the rear wheels is transferred via a heavy-duty eight-speed automatic transmission.
While Challenger Hellcat which has an optional six-speed manual transmission, this automatic unit is the only one available on the Charger Hellcat and helps deliver reasonable fuel economy for everyday street driving while at the same time providing maximum track performance with 160 millisecond shifts.
Think of it as the best of both worlds.
And that is exactly what is so interesting about the Charger SRT Hellcat. It can be two cars in one; in fact, it even comes with two key fobs – one black and one red.
The black fob limits top power to about 500 hp, while the red one turns it into the fire-breathing monster and unleashes all 707 hp.
To dial things down even further, there is something called Valet Mode that limits engine revs to 4,000 rpm and also disables the paddle shifters, locks out first gear and Launch Control and locks on stability control.
A car with this much power needs brakes to match and Dodge has equipped it with the largest brakes it has ever offered — 15.4-inch Brembo two-piece rotors with six-piston calipers. The car rides on 20-inch, seven-spoke forged aluminum wheels shod with Pirelli P Zero performance tires.
The Hellcat has a feature called SRT Performance Pages, accessed via the 8.4-inch touchscreen Uconnect system atop the centre stack.
This leads to a series of drive modes— Default, Street, Sport, Track, Custom or Eco. Custom allows the driver to personalize their drive experience by controlling horsepower, transmission shift speeds, paddle shifters, traction and suspension.
The speed and power of the Hellcat is intoxicating, but so too is that sound. The exhaust note from this huge V8 is music to the ears of muscle car fans and the engine sound builds to a crescendo when the supercharger kicks in.
It’s often said that if you can afford a car like this you shouldn’t be worrying about fuel economy. And that’s definitely the case here, although I was able to average 9.5/9.6 L/100 km at times in Eco mode. Of course, there were other times when the numbers were off the charts, literally, because the gauge is capped at 25L/100 km.
But as powerful as this beast can be when you turn it loose, it also behaves like a pussycat when you take it slow and easy. You could easily live with this car as a daily driver, unlike say the Viper, which would be a nightmare to drive day in and day out.
Anyone using the Hellcat as a daily driver will appreciate the 456 litres of cargo space in the trunk and the rear seat with room for three adults.
So the question I’m asked so often after I’ve driven a car like the Hellcat is “would you want one?”
My answer: yes, in an instant.
Not because it will be rare (production is not limited), and not just because of all that power.
It’s because it it’s a chance to own a car that’s a throwback to the ’70s that shows just how good modern day muscle can be.
2015 Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat at a glance
BODY STYLE: Full-size performance sedan.
DRIVE METHOD: front-engine, rear-wheel-drive.
ENGINE: 6.2-litre supercharged Hemi V8 (707 hp, 650 lb/ft)
FUEL ECONOMY: 18.0L/100 km city, 10.7 hwy.
TOW RATING: Not recommended
CARGO CAPACITY: 456 litres (16.1 cu ft)
PRICE: $69,695 not including $1,695 shipping fee
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