When is too much horsepower considered insane? Well, the folks at Dodge and its in-house tuning division, SRT (Street & Racing Technology) are certainly walking the fine line with the 2015 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat. Just how crazy is the Challenger SRT Hellcat? It’s so crazy that Tim Kiniskis, president and CEO of Dodge, says it’s a “science-project car.” Who could blame him?
Let’s sit down and consider these figures for a second: 707 hp and 882 Nm of torque. Powered by a honking 6.2-liter HEMI V8 that’s been supercharged, the mill in the Challenger SRT Hellcat enables it to reach 100 km/h from a standstill in just a bit over three seconds. It can also obliterate the quarter mile in 11.2 seconds (or 10.6 on drag radials). Terminal velocity is at a mind-warping 320 km/h (aerodynamically limited). It’s so powerful Dodge needed new dynos to test the engine—the ones used in development of the almighty Viper weren’t up to scratch. Fuel economy? It drinks unleaded at the rate of 5.6 liters per minute of flat-out acceleration. Putting that in perspective, it will empty its tanks after Just. 13. Freaking. Minutes. Yet, when not pushed like a manic, it can still return up to 8.5 km/L on the highway.
But it’s not just a matter of increasing the boost and calling it a day. Dodge and SRT engineers worked hard to improve the monster engine’s reliability and durability. After all, it has to pass Dodge’s rigorous durability tests including continuous use on a racetrack during a 38-degree Celsius day. It shares almost nothing in common with the standard SRT 392 engine. It’s 91 percent new from the crank, pistons, connecting rods, and even the entire bottom-end.
Keeping all the power on a leash and hitting the ground, the Challenger SRT Hellcat benefits from beefy Brembo brakes with 15.4-inch front rotors and twin piston calipers. It also gets a three-mode adaptive suspension (Normal, Sport, Track). And breaking from tradition, the Challenger SRT Hellcat is available with a choice between a rev-matching 8-speed automatic and, purists rejoice, a 6-speed manual. The automatic gets a 30 percent increase in its torque capability while the manual is derived from the one found in the Viper.
As superhero legends caution: with great power comes great responsibility, and in this case, it gets two key fobs (red and black) that control engine output. The Challenger SRT Hellcat also has a built-in valet mode that mandates second gear starts, a 4,000-rpm rev limit, and lowered horsepower output.
The Challenger itself is already distinguishable with its 1971-inspired exterior and interior design. But as the most powerful muscle car ever built, the Challenger SRT Hellcat separates itself with a skin that’s been modified to achieve maximum aerodynamics. It spent 35 percent more time in the wind tunnel and as result, the Challenger SRT Hellcat gets a larger front splitter and a taller rear spoiler with a raised SRT logo. Up front, it gets a power-bulge aluminum hood with a dedicated center air intake and dual air extractors lowering engine bay temperatures to improve efficiency. It also gets “air catcher” inlet ports located in the driver-side parking lamp cluster to feed air directly into the engine air box for a ram-air effect. On all four corners, it gets unique twenty-inch “Slingshot” forged-aluminum wheels in either Matte Black or Brass Monkey/Dark Bronze.
The cockpit is driver-centric with heritage-inspired touches including classic gauge faces and a sweeping center console. The gauge cluster features a 7-inch TFT screen that’s reconfigurable to call out vital information when needed. The body-hugging sport seats are finished in luxurious Laguna leather and Alcantara. For infotainment, it gets Dodge’s Uconnect system with an 8.4-inch touchscreen and Harman Kardon speakers. Despite being a track machine capable of destroying the drag strip, the Challenger SRT Hellcat promises a comfortable and safe cruise. Among the standard luxury features include Forward Collision Warning, Adaptive Cruise Control, rain-sensing wipers, automatic high-beam headlamps, blind spot monitoring, and rear cross path detection.
The Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat is certainly putting all car enthusiasts on notice. It’s delivering mind-boggling, supercar-killing performance without compromises to drivability and usability. The Challenger has been a huge success for Dodge with sales doubling between 2009 and 2013. And according to Dodge, the Challenger enjoys a 78-percent loyalty rate. With the 2015 Challenger SRT Hellcat, Dodge is once again setting the bar for pure entertainment on four wheels. It’s not just bringing a new muscle car; it’s calling the shots in a segment that commands bragging rights.