You know what they say; you wait for one 707 horsepower muscle car to come along, and then two appear within weeks of each other. Actually, they don’t say that at all, but with the new Charger SRT Hellcat, Dodge now has two ridiculously powerful production cars in its lineup.
Initially we were a little unsure of the Charger Hellcat. Part of the Challenger Hellcat’s appeal was the uniqueness of featuring such a massively powerful engine in a normal production car. Now there’s two models sharing the same engine. Diluting the impact? Maybe, but we remembered this is exactly what happened in the muscle car heyday of the late 1960s and early ’70s. Back then, Charger, Challenger and a whole host of other – to quote Springsteen – “Hemi-powered drones” would “scream down the boulevard” using the same 426 cu in engine, so it’s hardly a new concept for the company.
Oh, and we also looked at the press pictures of the Charger Hellcat, and instantly forget about brand dilution or anything else, because it looks awesome. Dodge and SRT have left virtually no panel untouched from the regular Charger, with a unique front bumper with integrated splitter, bonnet with functioning air intake and vents, wide rear spoiler and those wonderful 4″ exhaust tailpipes.
The 20″ multispoke alloy wheels, as fitted to the Challenger Hellcat, still look fantastic and we love the Brass Monkey finish to them featured here. Dodge claims that the actual C-pillar on the Charger has been moved further rearwards, to create a fastback impression in keeping with the 1969 Charger they took inspiration from. It certainly looks mean and purposeful; with a range of details like the “racetrack” LED rear lights and blacked out grille. We approve, lots.
But the party piece is, of course, the fitment of that glorious supercharged 6.2 litre V8 HEMI engine, with its 707 bhp and 650 lb-ft of torque. That’s sufficient to make it the most powerful production four-door in the world, taking the crown away from the Mercedes-Benz S 65 AMG. We’re sure Chrysler is fairly pleased with themselves about that fact; who needs DaimlerChryrsler now? Before you say otherwise; yes we know Brabus will build you an 850 horsepower E Class, but it’s not really in the same spirit as the Charger Hellcat, is it? It’ll also be a damn site more expensive we imagine.
Fitted with the eight-speed TorqueFlite automatic gearbox as seen in the Challenger, the Charger Hellcat will run a standing quarter-mile in 11 seconds dead on street tyres, whilst powering all the way to 204 mph. Yes, two hundred and four; this thing will outrun a Ferrari 458 by two miles per hour. Braking is the same as the setup fitted to the Challenger Hellcat, with 390mm discs and Brembo six-pot calipers at the front end, along with the familiar three-stage adjustable suspension system.
Inside, things are taken up a notch from the regular Charger, with substantial heated and cooled leather/Alcantara seats, a heated three-spoke flat-bottomed steering wheel, a 7″ customisable instrument panel and a 8.4″ touchscreen. Standard trim includes a 900w 18-speaker Harmon Kardon audio system, and the SRT Performance Pages system that allows drivers to configure everything from traction control to suspension settings and gearshift speeds.
Naturally, there’s a variety of predetermined options, which includes a sport mode choice, along with track and eco. You’ll also need the special red key fob in order to unleash the full 707 bhp and there’s an additional valet mode to stop parking attendants rampaging the streets in your Hellcat.
Dodge hasn’t released pricing yet, but given the relative bargain cost of the Challenger Hellcat, we’d expect the Charger version to be equally good value. We’ll be surprised if it comes out at more than $75,000 – the equivalent of around £45,000 in the UK. Due to be built at the Brampton plant in Ontario, Canada, the first cars are scheduled to roll off the production line in early 2015.
For a company that was on its knees just a few years ago following the combined collapse of DaimlerChrysler, followed by the global recession and Chapter 11 bankruptcy, it’s heartening that Chrysler and the Dodge brand exist at all. The fact it’s making cars like the Charger and Challenger Hellcat is something to be even happier about.