Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat: Supercar for the Masses?
Is the Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat a new supercar regular people can actually afford?
The term “supercar” gets tossed around pretty freely these days, but all the wannabes have at least a few traits in common. They are powerful with amazing acceleration. They are exotic looking. Many, if not most, are luxurious and boast superfluous accessories. They all cost a mint.
It’s that last characteristic that makes access to a “supercar” limited to the “super rich.” If the car you drive costs more than the median price of a home in the United Sates, you can probably shop for a supercar without being the subject of derisive glares from the supercar sales staff. Or you can take a look at the Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat.
Supercar Stuff for a Lot Less
The Dodge Challenger has never been thought of as a shrinking violet. It has its roots in the Dodge street racer Hemis of the ’60s and ’70s. The bad boy attitude perpetuates through to current times. This time that attitude is backed up with 707 horses and a bucketful of torque. That’s what you get when you drop a Hellcat Hemi under the hood.
The Challenger has been transformed into the workingman’s supercar. Let’s check the supercar bucket list and see how this Dodge stacks up.
The 6.2L Hellcat V8 develops 707 horsepower and an incredible 653 lb-ft of torque.
One of the biggest challenges piloting the Challenger is controlling the launch. With 653 lb-ft of torque, rear tires tend to have short life spans. It takes an experienced hand to get going without the backend swaying everywhere.
When it does take off it goes 0 to 60 in 3.6 seconds using the automatic 8 speed transmission and 3.9 seconds with the manual stick. At 7.6 seconds it hits 100 mph and after 11.7 seconds it has blown past a quarter mile doing 126 mph. This monster passes the amazing speed test.
The Challenger looks like…well it looks like a Dodge. That’s not a bad thing, but it does not have the aerodynamic lines that you will find on Ferrari, Maserati or the Mercedes AMG-GT. The Challenger looks like an updated muscle car. A street fighter rather than a jet fighter.
The Hemi and its massive supercharger need a lot of air. One of the headlights actually functions as an air intake as well. The wide stance and 20 inch wheels (with very cool 14 spoke rims) give off a muscular appearance that tells the world to stay clear. It’s not a work of art, it’s a work of power.
If you squint you might call the interior of the Challenger luxurious. Luxury is after all, a relative term. The Challenger has comfortable leather seats with attractive accent stitching, the most backseat room in its class, and leather and suede trim on the doors.
The dash is carbon fiber with a liberal amount of chrome accents. The instrument cluster can be a bit confusing until you turn on the “U Connect” feature that lets you control settings, navigation and entertainment.
The interior is nice. I’d call it sporty plush. However it isn’t the buttery soft hand stitched leather you’ll find in a Bentley. On the other hand, you’ll be able to buy leather stadium seating for the entire family in the TV room with the difference in price between a Dodge and a Bentley.
Big surprise here. For a base Challenger Hellcat with automatic transmission, you’re going to be spending over $50,000 (remember we’re buying a supercar here) to get it the way you want it. The Mercedes AMG-GT will set you back $112,000. There is a track-only Maserati MC12 Versione Corse for sale in Florida with a $3 million asking price, and a new Ferrari F80 will set you back north of $2 million.
While the Challenger’s amazing power is a big draw, the SRT is not just a one trick pony. Thanks to adjustable steering and suspension settings, the Challenger can carve up a curve as well, provided you don’t overdo pressure on the gas pedal. It has a surprisingly solid feel on the road.
All that power means you have to be driving 100 percent of the time. There is no slacking off, you have to control those ponies or they will start throwing you off your intended course.
Now that’s a ton of fun for drivers who are up for the challenge, but do you really want to tackle that task every day during the commute?
The Key(s) to Performance
Dodge has a unique solution. The Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat comes with two keys, a black one and a red one. If you start the car using the red key fob you bring the Hellcat and it’s screaming supercharger to life. However, if you use the black key it syncs with U Connect and delivers a less powerful option than all out horsepower. The idea was to create a more civilized ride for day-to-day driving.
To sum it up, the Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat roughly meets the requirements for a supercar. It’s not going to pamper you, but it is far more accessible financially than the “traditional” supercars. If you are a gearhead with the need for speed you will not be disappointed.