Dodge to double Challenger and Charger Hellcat edition production for 2016

Dodge Challenger Hellcat (Photo: FCA)

Vincent Aube,
Published Friday, July 31, 2015 9:44AM EDT

Due to high demand for its inaugural 2015 Charger Hellcat and Challenger Hellcat edition vehicles, FCA’s Dodge division will be vastly increasing production for the coming year. Volumes for its special high-powered models are expected to more than double in 2016.

Watch: Burnout in a 2015 Dodge Challenger SRT

The news comes after it became clear that Dodge wouldn’t be able to keep up with North American orders of its 707-horsepower muscle cars. Existing outstanding orders for 2015 models will be cancelled, but for their patience those customers will be receiving a discount on the price next year’s model.

The recent resurgence of popularity of the American muscle car puts a dent in the theory that the genre is fading. In addition to strong sales at Dodge, Ford’s Mustang is seeing strong sales, as is Chevrolet’s Camaro. New, more powerful and efficient technology is allowing manufacturers to deliver cars capable of delivering the power of a Lamborghini Aventador V12 at a price equivalent of a BMW M3.

The Ten Things You Learn After Four Days in the Dodge Charger Hellcat

707 horsepower is a lot of horsepower.

Dodge was kind enough to let us borrow a Charger Hellcat. If you don’t know, the Hellcat is the fastest production sedan, with a top speed of 204 MPH and 707 insanity inducing horsepower under the hood. It’s not quicker off the line than the Tesla Model S P85D, but after 60 it just crushes it. It’s faster than almost anything and everything.

We had four days with the car to learn its intricacies. Here are the ten things you need to know:

1. It’s obscenely fast. That’s a given, but nothing can really prepare you for the insanity of the Hellcat until you first step on the gas. It’s not subtle about its speed or power. Get on the gas and you’re greeted by a wall of noise and speed unlike anything out there. The 6.2 liter supercharged Hemi with 707 horsepower is one of the greatest engines we’ve ever seen. Seriously, there’s a lot to love here.

2. It’s overpowered ​and​ undertired. Ok, so overpowered was a given, but it has a square tire profile with 275s all around. 275s sound meaty, but then you realize that the Camaro Z/28 has 305s all around, the Corvette Z06 has 335s out back, even the Viper has 355s out back. All of these cars are lighter and have less power. The heavier (4,000+ pounds), more powerful Charger simply cannot hook up, it needs more rubber. Even a slight throttle application results in spinning rears and tire marks down the road, even with the traction control set to very on.

3. Yes, it can do a burnout. As you’ve seen from literally every YouTube video that this car has been in, brake stands are no worries for it. I didn’t do any when I had the car because I wanted to give it back with tires. Also, I’ve seen the videos, I know it can do a burnout, what would doing one prove?

4. It’s actually rather subtle. This is kind of hard to believe, but the word Hellcat appears on the outside of the car precisely zero times. It has two little badges that are the Hellcat symbol, two SRT badges, and that’s really it. To the uninitiated, it looks like a regular Charger Scat Pack, perhaps a slightly more sinister one, but that’s about it. It’s a total sleeper, got to love that.

5. People who know what it is freak out. I had a number of people give thumbs up, roll down the windows to chat about it, or give knowing nods of approval. Owners of regular Chargers were obviously jealous when they stopped to talk. That has to make someone who owns a Hellcat feel damn good.

6. Some people who know what it is act like idiots around it. If you’re driving the Hellcat and come across something like a Camaro or a lowered Mitsubishi Evo (these are just examples and definitely not people that I saw, no sir, not at all), be prepared for some invitations to drive like a moron in traffic. People will pull up next to you, drop gears, and then take off, expecting that you’ll be following close behind to prove that your car is fast. A better thing to do is to just let those people make asses of themselves and get pulled over while and you just continue on your way.

7. Gas mileage is a joke. Seriously. It’s more like gallons per mile than miles per gallon. Hypermiling in the Charger will let you see 20 MPG. Maybe. A full tank of fuel barely got me 200 miles. That’s kind of awesome.

8. Corners are not its thing. Steering is vague and it’s a heavy SOB. That’s why you’ll see these on the drag strip, not on the road course. 

9. It’s surprisingly nice inside. While some of the materials on the dash feel a little cheap, the seats are top notch, the wheel feels great, and Chrysler’s UConnect system is a delight to use. It’s a very, very nice place to spend a lot of time.

10. The Hellcat is a screaming deal. The particular car that Dodge gave us to test came in at $70,800. That sounds like a lot, but that roughly equates to $100 per horsepower… for the most powerful, fastest sedan that the world has seen. Yes, yes, you’re spending $70,000 on a Dodge, but you get to say it’s a Hellcat. And there’s something cool about that.

The Charger Hellcat makes no sense. It’s not a rational car. You’d have to be clinically insane to buy this as your daily driver/family hauler. You’ll probably need to change tires every time you refuel, which is basically every single day. It’s nuts. It makes no sense. It’s irrational. It’s dumb.

It’s basically perfect.

2015 Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat Review: King of the Hell?

August 3, 2015 | By

2015 Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat

Hell hath no fury? Dodge’s Charger SRT Hellcat recalls a Hemi-equipped Fury.

Southlake, TX – On the same weekend the Wall Street Journal’s Dan Neil reported on lapping the Elkhart Lake road course in Cadillac’s CTS-V, this reporter was doing laps of Southlake, Texas (no road course – just roads) in Dodge’s Charger SRT Hellcat. And despite a price difference between the Big Daddy Caddy and chargin’ Charger of some $25K (roughly $94K for the CTS-V vs. just $70 Large for the Dodge), and virtually no similarities between Elkhart Lake and Southlake (OK – they share ‘lake’), the conclusions drawn are virtually the same. These are, as Mr. Shelby might have suggested, some fast sumbitches.

If interested, go ahead and google Dan Neil. But in the interim, know that little more than a weekend in Dodge’s SRT Hellcat is, uh, devilishly fun. To Dodge’s Charger, a device born of the very real need to get more volume out of what was then Daimler-Chrysler’s E-segment platform, the specialized brain trust at FCA’s SRT has added a supercharged 6.2 liter HEMI – dubbed Hellcat – producing 707 horsepower and 650 lb-ft of torque. This is a smaller – by twenty-two cubes – variant of Chrysler’s 392 Hemi, with a shorter stroke, lower compression ratio and – of course – a supercharger. SRT utilizes a deep-skirt cast iron block, aluminum heads unique to the Hellcat, and sodium-filled exhaust valves. And the Hemi is assembled at Chrysler’s engine plant in Saltillo, Mexico, begging the question: Would Donald Trump drive one – or jail it?

2015 Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat

Harnessing the above (or better, trying to harness the above) are a host of mods, including a brawny new TorqueFlite 8-speed automatic trans, new axles, the largest front-brake package ever offered by Chrysler (except – maybe – when they were building WWII tanks), and uniquely tuned front spring rates and adaptive shocks. And while the Southlake constables frown on anyone doing 40 (even in a 50), if ramped up the Hellcat will get you to 204 miles per hour without breaking a sweat. Your wife will sweat, and if you’re smart you will sweat, but your Hellcat won’t…

Initial impressions, we’ll admit, don’t begin to convey all that the Hellcat means to motorized America. To its everlasting credit there’s no racing/rally stripe (although we always liked the one on Plymouth’s Formula ‘S’ Barracuda), no chicken on the hood and – thankfully – no Confederate battle flag on the roof. If Plymouth was still around, and the Hellcat had been equipped with a taxi-issue front bench, you might confuse the Hellcat with an update on the $3K – in the day – Plymouth Roadrunner. The only visual differentiation – save for tires, wheels and a few aero mods and intakes – is the outline of a hellish feline on the front fenders. So, if you’re into visual discretion – you know, long pants and underwear – and can work through the fact that your Charger doesn’t look all that different from an Avis Charger, it should be a go.

2015 Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat

And this thing does go. Again, we didn’t have the benefit of Elkhart Lake and its storied history, but those of us in or of Texas have been doing great things with great horsepower since, well, horsepower. Of course, Carroll (Shelby), Jim (Hall) and Anthony Joseph (Foyt) come immediately to mind, but you can now add yours very truly to that esteemed assemblage. If the press release can be believed (and why-the-HELL-not?) the SRT Hellcat will not only cover 204 miles (think Dallas to Austin) in just an hour, but will cover the quarter mile in but eleven-point-zero seconds. However, before you get going enjoy – forgawdsake – the moment. With seat, wheel and mirrors adjusted, hit the ‘go’ button and prepare for what we think is a baritone burble somebody named Sergio Marchione, CEO of Dodge’s FCA parent, should have had absolutely nothin’ to do with. The noises emanating from these 6.2 liters are of a time machine quality, putting you/pushing you/pulling you back to ’62 before you know what-the-HELL just happened. And at just above idle, while sitting in Park, you probably won’t go to jail.

With one hand firmly on the Hellcat’s leather-covered wheel, and the other ready to slip the Torquer into ‘D’, know that you need to apply the right pedal judiciously or – you guessed it – ALLHELLWILLBREAKLOOSE! With three driving modes, of course, you can choose your own kind of hell. ‘Street’ is described as authoritative (Pearly Gates), ‘Sport’ provides an ominous burble (Heaven) and ‘Track’ sounds – to quote from the Hellcat Bible – ‘hellacious’ (Eternal Damnation).

Once underway, know that this Chrysler unibody can do ‘stiff’ better than most of its owners. The Dodge’s steering is reasonably direct and body roll is beautifully controlled, but there’s no disguising the Hellcat’s 4,600 pounds (some 600 pounds porkier than the Avis V6) or 75 inches of overall width. This is one big*ss sedan; with five passenger capacity it could have carried Shelby and most of his wives. Or Lee Iacocca and all of his wives…but I digress.

Once on the highway, up to (legal) speeds and with the supercharger kicking in, the aria coming from the Hellcat V8 could be sung by Signor Marchione, as it sounds very much like an Italian schooled in Canada, with an office in Auburn Hills. The V8’s aural stew is at once both bass and supersonic. And while the chassis may be dated, and some interior plastics look to have been taken from your chiropractor’s office (you know, the one his landlord last updated in 1978), the end result is one roadtrip down memory lane, way back to the future.

With a base price of around $63K, and as equipped – with leather, pearl metallic paint, Harman Kardon audio and gas guzzler tax – of just over $70K, the SRT Hellcat is one powerful argument for this nation’s ability to make powerful arguments. Were it our $70K we’d probably shop for a gently(!) used Viper from that same Dodge showroom, but if you’re looking for something to tackle the cut-and-thrust of the modern commute, the Hellcat dispenses with the knife; it is – instead – a shotgun blast from the past. Carroll could’ve had fun with this…

2015 Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat

2015 Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat, price and key specifications as tested
Body style/layout: 4-door sedan, front engine/RWD
Base price: $62,295 plus $995 destination
Price as tested: $70,170 with destination and $1,700 gas guzzler tax

* Type: 6.2 liter supercharged V8
* Compression ratio: 9.5:1
* Horsepower: 707 @ 6000 rpm
* Torque: 650 lb-ft @ 4800 rpm
* Recommended fuel: premium unleaded
* Fuel economy, EPA est.: 13/22/16 city/highway/combined
* Fuel tank capacity: 18.5 gallons
* Fuel economy, observed: Are you kidding?

Transmission: 8-speed TorqueFlite automatic

* Suspension, front/rear: Independelink independent. ‘SRT-tuned’ features three-mode adaptive damping system
* Wheels: 20 X 9.5 inch forged aluminum
* Tires: 275/40 ZR20 All-Season
* Brakes: Brembo Ultra-high performance 4-wheel disc
* Disc dimensions: 15.4 X 1.34 front/13.8 X 1.1 rear
* Steering: Rack-and-Pinion Electric Power Assist
* Turning circle, curb to curb: 38.5 feet

* Wheelbase: 120.4 inches
* Length: 200.8 inches
* Height: 58.26 inches
* Width: 75.0 inches
* Curb weight: 4,575 pounds
* Weight Distribution, front/rear: 56/44
* Trunk Volume: 16.5 cubic feet

* Airbags: Driver’s and Front Passenger’s Dual-Stage Airbags, Driver’s and Front Passenger’s Seat Airbags, Side Curtain Airbags
* Anti-lock brakes: Yes Traction control: Yes Stability control: Yes
* Other: Front seatbelt pretensioners and LATCH child seat attachment, as well as a host of electronic aids: Rear Park Assist, Rear Back-up Camera, Blind Spot and Cross Path Detection.

Warranty: 3-year/36,000 mile basic limited warranty warranty and 5-year/100,000 mile powertrain limited warranty (transferable). Also, 5-year/100,000 mile roadside assistance.

Challenger Hellcat is Most Wanted, Much Like Kowalski

4:29 PM, Jul 24, 2015

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles makes 30-plus-mpg SUVs, a 29-mpg full-size pickup and battery electric cars, but this gas-guzzler Challenger is most in demand. The Hellcat has plenty of superlatives to its credit but fuel economy isn’t one of them, which becomes a problem for Dodge only if they make too many.

And right now they can’t make enough of them. Seems a lot of people have an interest in high-horsepower cars that come with a warranty, are simple enough to work on yourself, and cost no more than a mid-size luxury sedan.

Challenger Hellcat was built around its engine, a supercharged 6.2-liter V8 rated at 707 horsepower and 650 lb-ft of torque. Like the Bugatti Veyron, the two biggest problems were getting fuel in and heat out. This car has the largest fuel lines ever used on a Chrysler product because, at full power, it uses about 1.5 gallons a minute, and every grille and vent in the aluminum hood is fully functional.

Although it’s the same bore as the Challenger SRT392’s 6.4-liter V8, it uses a shorter stroke and 90 percent of the parts are new. It takes the power of a small car just to drive the supercharger at peak output and a separate coolant circuit to cool the compressed intake air. At moderate throttle, blower whine is evident; at greater power it’s mostly overcome by the Gatling-gun noise from twin barely-muffled tailpipes.

For ultimate speed and highway fuel economy, the eight-speed automatic is superior. However, with full-throttle traction marginal at any legal speed, many will trade shift speed for the more involving six-speed manual. This unit runs an external cooler and Viper ratios, meaning first gear is about 30 percent taller than in an SRT392 and gives roughly 10 mph per 1,000 engine rpm. It idles at 8 mph.

Acceleration is great, thrilling or frightening depending who you ask, and through third gear the rate doesn’t appreciably slack off. It will keep going to 199 mph; the tires’ ability to withstand that velocity one reason they might need replacement with any oil change. The only faster front-engine, rear-drive, U.S.-legal cars I can think of cost $300,000 or more.

SRT however, Hellcat or otherwise, is about more than straight-line speed. And considering they have room for only moderate-size tires and Hellcat weighs nearly 4,500 pounds, the results are impressive. Multi-piston, slotted-rotor Brembo brakes all ‘round from the SRT392 cope well despite Hellcat’s extra weight and 200-plus horses. Hellcat’s hydraulic-assist steering feel is a bit better, and quick without being alarmingly so.

Excellent roll stiffness keeps cornering flat regardless of suspension setting. The default street mode gives a very nice ride, easily soft enough for long trips. Track mode is properly stiff, and the middling sport mode works well on anything but really rough pavement. Hellcat has plenty of grip, though fast transitions do show the weight and girth. Apart from a potential exhaust drone climbing long grades, cabin noise levels (with the windows up) are fine for touring use.

One advantage of Challenger’s size is its ability to carry adults front seat and rear. It even has five belts if you need to carpool the Little League team. It’d be more spacious with thinner seats but you can’t complain about the comfort or support they provide. The thick-rim steering wheel is big, better for cruising than switchbacks.

Despite the turret-like window line, outward vision is quite good, and heat wafting from hood vents gives an apocalyptic element to traffic. The blind-spot monitors aren’t needed, but the roomy, high trunk—a 2.5-foot lift to load—and spoiler make the rear camera useful.

As the flagship it’s well equipped—the only mild surprise is a manually adjusted passenger seat. The configurable dash has myriad display options, as does the central display screen, though resetting one parameter often resets another. The twin-subwoofer harman/kardon sound system is fittingly powerful, and options are limited to bits like red seatbelts, reasonably priced navigation, and summer performance tires for places like here that don’t have winter.

Hellcat starts about $13,000 more than the SRT392 but it remains a good value against the likes of a Camaro Z28 or ZL1, or a Mustang GT500, or anything else with this kind of thrust.

Hellcat has made Challenger famous on youtube much like Kowalski and Vanishing Point did on the big screen 44 years ago. The performance isn’t debatable, so if you need a discussion point, consider Chrysler engines—including this one—are typically named for a piece of military apparatus. There are at least two Hellcats in military history, the F6F Hellcat airplane made by Grumman and the M18 tank destroyer built at the Buick plant in Lansing, Michigan. Which do you think fits better?

(Whale, a longtime Ventura County resident, has been breaking parts for 37 years and writing about it for 29.)

SRT Hellcat is so good it’s mega bad

2015 Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat Review

By Mathieu St-Pierre

2015 Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat Review

My lovely girlfriend recently purchased a t-shirt that reads: “Good girls go to Heaven, bad girls go everywhere.” That shopping spree was done while I was entrusted with Chrysler’s 4-door monster. When she picked the shirt out, I couldn’t help but draw a parallel with the Hellcat.

“Good” cars like the Toyota Avalon (a competitor to the regular Charger) will go to a nice quiet home and be driven leisurely in the suburbs, while a Charger Hellcat will likely be adopted by a person or persons that are liable to be involved in countless “bad” things and some kind of motorized mayhem on weekends. The Hellcat will surely be driven hard and everywhere, including the track.

What the Hellcat?
What more can be said about the Hellcat other than it is an absolutely insane automobile? Well, for starters, I did not track the car. I obviously went shopping with it (groceries, clothing, and otherwise); I essentially used it every day, as I would have a Micra (#becauseracecar). Other than profusely filling the gas tank, I found the car comfortable, roomy, well assembled and equipped. It is also senselessly fast, ridiculously loud, and looks like a werewolf on steroids with rabies.

It was hard to hide my stupid grin each time I walked up to the car, red key in pocket. The Charger Hellcat is not a good-looking car. It reminds me of Mark Henry from the WWE: he looks like a killer, scares the makeup off prostitutes, and there’s no way you’d ever dare cross him. The Hellcat is much the same, except for the prostitute part… The massive wheel and tire combo, the menacing mesh grilles, and the bulging hood tell any would-be streetlight competitors that they’re absolutely wasting their time.

By the numbers
Time is key where this Charger is concerned, how little of it will be involved to get around that is. Nearly all enthusiasts in the world are aware of these, but here’s a brief breakdown just in case: the 0-100 km/h sprint is completed in under 4 seconds, the quarter mile flies by in an NHRA-certified 11.0 seconds on street tires, and (for fun ) the race-against-the-clock 0-160-0 km/h event takes place in under 13 seconds. Top speed? Yes. How about 204 mph or 328 km/h?

Numbers are a huge part of what made this car set the interwebs on fire late last year when it was announced. Subsequently, videos of the car shredding rubber at every occasion further added fuel to said fires on the net.

Now, I’ve driven many fast and powerful cars over the years (SLS AMG, 911 Turbo S, Gallardo, GT-R, and more) but only one or two felt nearly as vicious as the Hellcat. To put it concretely, every gap between cars on the road becomes an opportunity for forward progress. You see, from a standstill, the car’s electronics, transmission, asymmetric limited-slip differential and gigantor tires have an immensely difficult job harnessing the supercharged 6.2L HEMI V8’s Jupiter-size power. Although acceleration is mind crushing, the real pleasure comes from passing manoeuvres.

The power of hell
Picture a Douglas DC3 flying at its cruising speed (207 mph or 333 km/hr) being passed by a Lockheed Blackbird going roughly 15 times faster… This gives you an idea how quickly surrounding traffic becomes a thing of the past when the throttle is mashed.

The most important stats, the Hellcat’s calling cards, are its output and they are nothing short of lottery-winning exciting: 707 horsepower and 650 lb-ft of torque. But before we get to what it feels like to crush every other car on the road with this kind of power, consider what it’s like when the SRT’s heart bursts to life. This video was done when the engine was warm. On a cool morning, residents in the next area code followed the furious rumble to see what the hell was going on.

Superchargers have, until recently, had a definite advantage over turbochargers and that is constant and instant boost. Although most current turbos are used on engines with direct injection and higher compression ratios, a blower still has the advantage at low rpm. Much like a normally aspirated mill, power build-up is linear, only in this instance the rush is space-shuttle like. And it’s supremely addictive; heroin ain’t got nothing on this.

Classy as hell
The rush is a rush, the adrenaline pumps, palms get sweaty, grip tightens, and the V8 has only just turned over. It’s an event. The drama doesn’t just take place with the right-hand pedal. The Hellcat’s gargantuan Brembo brakes erase forward momentum faster than a teacher a student’s obscenity on a blackboard. The front 6-piston and rear 4-piston callipers chomp down on some of the largest standard fitted discs this side of $100k. Their power is supreme. Thank you FCA for this wise addition.

Taking to the road is surprisingly fun. And by fun I mean not frighteningly uncomfortable for a family sedan that boasts more power than a Lamborghini Huracan. The ride, like many other driving functions, is adjustable through three SRT-unique selectable modes: Street, Sport, and Track. In Street mode, the Charger is, well, a Charger. Sport gets interesting, but damping pliability is too limited for Montreal roads, and Track is perfect for that.

Automatically yours 
Putting all that power to the drive wheels requires one hell of a transmission and FCA’s 8HP90 Torqueflite 8-speed automatic is tremendous. This box’s efficiency is such that it makes me wonder why some manufacturers have a hard time properly engineering and programing a transmission for a small displacement 4-cylinder car.
All eight gears are perfectly judged and their programmed call to action is exceptional. The transmission will quick-shift, rev-match or cruise smoothly. Its eagerness to drop three of four cogs in a passing maneuver catapults the car forward with the vigor provided by the boosted V8. The transmission can be controlled via the wheel-mounted paddle shifters; however, I don’t like them. I made note of my thoughts in my Grand Cherokee SRT review.

Comfy and affordable as hell
If the hype and anticipation are huge on the outside, the cabin excited with its sport seats, but that’s about it. The suede-leather perches are huge, but sufficiently snug for the average male adult. The optional red seatbelts are a great touch. As always, FCA’s Uconnect infotainment system is pure gold and one of the best in the business.

Five adults fit with ease, but you already knew that. What you want to know is that a base Dodge Charger Hellcat sports a near $70,000 price tag. With the few available options, the price can climb to just over $76k. Your options in this horsepower range? Nil. In this price range? Nil.

The Hellcat is a rare and fantastic beast of an affordable supercar that is unlike any other.

Test Drive: 2015 Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat

by Jonathan Yarkony – July 9, 2015

2015 Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat

You can’t just drive the Hellcat. You have to negotiate. You have to compromise.

Fortunately, the Hellcat has a diplomatic power management system. When it’s pouring rain and you’re driving the kids to the swimming pool, the Charger Hellcat offers a series of ‘switches’ on its touchscreen interface that allow you to calm it down, limiting it to ‘just’ 500 hp. Fuel trickles out slowly as throttle is applied, traction and stability control mean you can drive with little stress, and it behaves pretty much like an ordinary family sedan.

Subtle this thing ain’t.

But it is not. An ordinary family sedan, that is. Despite the relaxed power delivery and comfortable ride, with plenty of legroom, headroom and ample space for three across in the back seat, ordinary is the last thing you want to call it. It might just bite. At the very least you’ll have some claw marks to show for that disrespect.

Perhaps it’s a sunny summer day, a wide empty country road, not a soul in sight and those switches called up by the SRT button on the dash console switched to Sport (not even Track, that won’t be necessary here…). Sport mode, with the Red Key recognized, unlocks all 707 hp and 650 lb-ft of torque, turfs the wheel-spin-defeating traction control, and allows a little more leeway when traction of those poor, afflicted, likely-to-be-short-lived rear tires (they never stood a chance) is exceeded. That will happen almost from the merest whisper of your foot on the throttle. Subtle this thing ain’t.

Without power-stuttering traction control, the rear tires (even these upgraded Pirelli P Zero P275/40ZR20 performance tires) break free of their mortal bonds, spinning off an immaculate aria, the nose of the car lifting, the back end sashaying in an easy rhythm, the steering wheel grasped lightly and some gentle countersteer teasing it back online.

Then the 9.5-inch-wide tires bite, and your whole torso compress into the wide, comfy seats like being enveloped in memory foam while your brain feels like a stress ball in the grasp of an overworked, budget-crunching office drone. Lines and trees blur momentarily, and you shut it down after a brief couple seconds of ecstasy, at which point maniacal laughter interspersed with girly giggling spring forth with giddy abandon as you scan for lurking cruisers. Anything longer than a two-second burst of acceleration and you better be on a highway ramp, and even then you have maybe three or four seconds of maximum acceleration at most before anyone with a conscience and/or self-preservation instinct will back off.

Now, some of you may say, “Well, I’d rather drive a slow car fast, blah blah blah blah…” Sometimes I feel that way, too. But not on weeks when the Father of Sin, er, blesses me with a Hellcat. Damn me if it’s not a thrill to light up the rear tires for those few seconds and feel that burst of acceleration. Every stoplight becomes a complex algorithm of risk assessment vs the reward of visceral, antisocial, anarchic and almost sexual pleasure from the noises this car makes. And oh, the noises it makes.

Crucify me for a barbaric heathen, but as it so happened, we had an Italian-tuned V10 in the garage the same weekend, but the Hellcat took top honours in my ears thanks to its displacement advantage that contributed to a deeply rumbling basso, while the supercharger whined a sharp, whistling counterpoint as the intake manifold churned away in a chaotic harmony that has earned a permanent place in the Yarkony Hall of Fame Noises (move over laughing baby and Audi 4.2L V8).

There’s a lot going on under the hood to make those noises, starting with a big, reinforced lump of cast iron with eight cylinders arranged in a 90-degree V and hemispherical aluminum alloy heads making for 6,166 cc of displacement. The valves are operated by pushrods and gas is multiport injected (not directly into the cylinder), and a big honking supercharger sits on top of the engine, with a Lysholm-type screw force-feeding air into the cylinders to the tune of 11.6 psi of added pressure, though the combustion chambers max out at a 9.5:1 ratio compression ratio. Then boom, and as the revolutions per minute rise, the Hellcat is estimated to make 650 lb-ft of torque at 4,800 rpm (though much of the torque is available almost everywhere, from 2,000 rpm upwards) and power rising to a maximum output of 707 hp at 6,000 rpm just shy of its 6,200-rpm redline. Basically, it’s too much torque everywhere and too much power all over the place, especially for a rear-wheel drive sedan. It’s perfect.

To contain the fires of the demonically possessed Hemi, Dodge turned to transmission specialists ZF for hardware that could withstand such forces, and the Charger Hellcat uses an eight-speed automatic with paddle shifters dubbed the 8HP90 (AKA Beelzebub). Unlike the Challenger, the Charger is available only in automatic. As you’d expect the tranny also has more aggressive ‘tunes’ based on the SRT modes and paddle shifters for when you want to pretend you can do better than the machine brain.

steering wheel

At over two tonnes, the Charger Hellcat is no lightweight, and it is evident as you take to the corners delicately or risk opening a portal into another dimension – the Sideways Zone or Turned-Aroundia. Despite the weight, the car corners flat in stiffer suspension modes (at least as aggressively as I could push it on public roads), though the nose tucks down under heavy braking. The heavy and somewhat aloof steering helps remind you to respect the power, size and weight at all times. However, despite a lack of direct steering feel, the Hellcat offered a certain level of confidence even when loose, the kind of feeling that a good session on the skidpad might reinforce with a certain ease and comfort in being sideways.

Is it a car that would excel on a race track? Some have reported that it is surprisingly effective, but that is not its true calling. Sometimes it’s okay for a hammer just to be a hammer. I’d rather take this thing to the drag strip and let ‘er rip. Too bad Dodge said no.

Keeping the Hellcat shiny side up and facing the right way (most of the time) are those 275/40ZR20 Pirelli P Zeros on 20 x 9.5-inch matte-black-finish ‘Slingshot’ pattern forged (in a lake of fire of course) aluminum wheels. Fun fact: the optional wheels for Hellcat have a “Brass Monkey” finish. The SRT boys know you gotta’ fight for your right to give these things goofy names, after all, Hellcat was their internal name for this spawn of Satan in development that just got picked up by the marketing folk.

Putting the stop to acceleration and momentum when reason kicks in is a Brembo brake package: six-piston fixed monoblock aluminum calipers on 390-mm two-piece aluminum hat (that’s a new one for me!), vented and slotted rotors in front and four-piston fixed calipers on 350 mm vented and slotted rotors in back, so your eyeballs will need seatbelts, too.

While I could spout numbers and technical drivel all day, I found that its power and technical details are better captured using grunting and gesticulating and flailing and tearing out of hair to communicate the apocalyptic nature of this instrument of mass tire destruction. Not that potential owners are gorillas or in any way technically disinclined. I encountered one future owner in a parking lot that brushed me up on the dyno test results and the tracking of his car’s build progress online. But details like sodium-filled exhaust valves, hollow-stem intake valves, reinforced block and upgraded crankshaft, rods and pistons just seem so clinical and don’t really tell the story of how this engine seems to want to twist the entire car into a pretzel as you rev it, or the physical sensation of those rear tires hooking up, and the thrill and gratification as you drop a few gears at middling speeds, hear the engine rumble its satisfaction at being unleashed and mat the right pedal for some high-speed tire-chirping and further assault on the senses. Shall I go on? It’s a fully immersive experience, with sounds, smells, sights and physical forces (and you can practically taste the burnt rubber!) that all combine into an orgy of old-school motoring nirvana.

start-stop button

It’s a stark contrast to the shocking and surprising effect that the near silent and instantaneous torque delivery of the AWD Tesla Model S P85D; the drama, the build-up, the anticipation, and the explosive delivery are signatures of internally combusted powertrains that we know and love. I wouldn’t trade one for the other, and both, to me, represent fulfillment of driving enthusiast dreams (though the Tesla also has that whole using-no-fossil-fuels-and-zero-emissions thing going for it). But enough about that, those two have almost nothing in common except for their four-door layout and Wile E. Coyote-strapped-to-a-rocket acceleration. And great touchscreen interfaces, come to think of it.

The Charger Hellcat’s 8.4-inch touchscreen doesn’t quite measure up to the Tesla’s in size or capability, but it is fast, logical, and easy to learn and use, a system that many luxury brands would do well to learn from in its responsiveness and simplicity.

Overall, the Hellcat is an odd byproduct of its roots, as the Charger is an exemplary daily driver, the long wheelbase, heavy weight and adaptive damping able to neutralize road imperfections, though obviously challenging to maneuver in small spaces like our underground office parking lot. And with its leather and Alcantara seats and exemplary soft-touch plastics, it’s a fine environment to while away the hours if you’re inclined to take the family or a bunch of buddies on a road trip.

Of course, I shudder to think of the fuel bill, but those willing to spend upwards of $70K for this muscle sedan know what they’re getting in for, and with a tall eighth gear for cruising, the Hellcat might still deliver surprising efficiency on long steady drives. I wouldn’t know, since I spent my whole time laying waste to hydrocarbons at every opportunity. I think my fuel economy for the week was something like “Eternally Damned”.

Test Drive: 2015 Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat car test drives dodge

Granted, the Hellcat is a throwback from another time, an outcast along with the whole marginalized “No replacement for displacement” culture, and perhaps a harbinger of doom for tires everywhere and muscle cars in general. It’s ridiculous in so many ways, but I can’t help but love its anachronistic rebelliousness, and in no small part because it’s built in my backyard. Not just that its success trickles down to the Canadian auto industry, its halo shining on all the Dodge Chargers in the lineup, but its popularity has demanded increased production at the Hermosillo, Mexico plant that builds its engines and at FCA’s Brampton Assembly where it is bolted together, a manufacturing facility not 10 minutes from my home. It’s a win for the home team and a car that will go down in history as a legend and a landmark, whether some other sedan comes along with 750 hp to knock it off its throne or this is the last salvo in the modern muscle car wars.

2015 Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat

Pricing: 2015 Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat
Base Price (SRT Hellcat): $69,695
Options: $1,145 (Granite crystal metallic paint – $195; GPS Nav – $700; P275/40ZR20 Performance tires – $250)
Freight & PDI: $1,695
A/C Tax: $100
Gas Guzzler Tax: $1,000
Price as Tested: $73,635

3 years/60,000 km; 3 years/60,000 km powertrain; 3 years/unlimited distance corrosion perforation; 3 years/60,000 km roadside assistanceCompetitors:
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