(Photo courtesy of Wikipedia)
Dodge has served up perhaps the biggest reason yet to believe that we’re living through an amazing time to be an car enthusiast. Performance and power at this heightened level would have been unthinkable just a few short years ago, but the fact that you can walk down to the Dodge dealer, plunk down $60 grand – roughly double the average new car transaction price but far from exorbitant – and walk away with a 707-horsepower missile with a full warranty is nearly unfathomable. Oh, and owners lucky enough to do so will also be treated to a day-long, on-track SRT driving experience similar to the one journalists received, so they can hopefully get beneath the surface of what the Hellcat is capable of.Of course, on the other hand, using all that power on a daily basis is going to be pretty tough. It’s hilarious driving around in a car that will happily spin its tires at a 40 mph roll in third gear, all day long. But it’s also a bit of a chore, because you've got to give serious consideration to what will happen any time you brush the right throttle. Literally 10% throttle application had the rear tires chattering in the rain. In conditions other than a pelting Pacific Northwest rain, it’s probably more manageable. But nevertheless, you really need to take the Hellcat to a drag strip or a road coarse to do anything but scratch the surface of its abilities and accumulate speeding tickets. So, therein lies the rub. As a car lover, I’m thankful Dodge had the guts to engineer and build such a vehicle, and I’m even more thankful that they let me drive it on a race track. For most buyers, the sheer level of performance and character on offer will be more than enough to justify the $14,000 premium over an already-belting SRT 392. It’s also reasonable to expect that anyone not ponying up the extra cash for the Hellcat might have regrets later on that they didn't take the jump. Still, for my money, I might consider saving the dough and going with a SRT 392 or even the Hemi Scat Pack, both with a 6.4L, and putting the money saved toward spare rear tires. Ah, scratch that – gimme the Hellcat.
SXT PlusR/T – This is the first foray into V8 Challenger territory. Featuring the 5.7-liter HEMI (375hp/410tq) w/ a standard 6-speed Tremec manual or optional 8-speed TorqueFlite auto ($1,400), the R/T starts at $32,490. For that price, you’ll have cloth seats, the base 5” uConnect system and 20” wheels as standard. You can add a R/T Classic Package, which gets you retro-looking polished wheels and stripes plus suede seats (not yet priced), and the aforementioned Super Track Pack. R/T Shaker - To the base R/T above, the Shaker adds the functional scoop hood and cold-air intake, different badging and satin black accents, performance seats w/ black cloth, 20” satin finish wheels and a beefier rear diff. This one’s not yet priced, but figure close to $34k. R/T Plus - Similar to the difference between SXT and SXT Plus, the R/T Plus gets you the base R/T with added luxuries like polished 20” wheels, heated and cooled Nappa leather seats, 8.4” uConnect, etc. $35,490. The same available option groups apply here, too. Add $1,400 for an automatic transmission. R/T Plus Shaker – Same deal with the R/T and R/T Shaker – add a couple grand to the R/T Plus’ price for the Shaker equipment. Around $37.5k would be likely. 6.4-liter Scat Pack – Here’s where it starts to get tricky. $39,490 buys you the big SRT- (but not Hellcat) engine from last year’s top dog SRT8, at 6.4-liters and 485hp/475lb-ft. But this one’s not actually an SRT model. It is, however, easily the performance bargain of the lineup. The rest of the car is pretty well-equipped, too: the 8.4” uConnect system is standard here, as are performance suspension and active exhaust systems, 20” wheels, Brembo 4-piston brakes, and cloth seats. Add $1,400 for the 8-speed auto; a six-speed manual is standard. You can add heated and cooled Nappa leather seats to the mix for $1,500, and the confusingly named Scat Pack Appearance Group (since it’s already a Scat Pack, wouldn’t it already have that appearance?) which brings matte black 20x9” forged wheels, black rear quarter stripes, and HID headlamps for $1,995.
6.4-liter Scat Pack (no Appearance Group)
6.4-liter Scat Pack w/ Scat Pack Appearance Group392 HEMI Scat Pack Shaker – To confuse things even further, there’s another Challenger model with the 6.4-liter, “Powered by SRT” HEMI V8, but this one’s called the 392 HEMI Scat Pack Shaker, instead of simply 6.4-liter Scat Pack Shaker. Same 485 hp/475 lb-ft as the model above, but this one’s the self-proclaimed “King of all Shakers” – basically, it’s a 6.4-liter Scat Pack with a Shaker hood, different wheels and stripes, and a new model name. Clear as mud, right? No pricing yet, but figure around $41,500. SRT 392 - Alright – we’re finally in SRT territory! This would be the top Challenger in the lineup were it not for the Hellcat. So, it’s basically a SRT chassis, with the 6.4-liter naturally aspirated HEMI V8 making the same 485 hp/475 lb-ft featured elsewhere in the lineup. Over a Scat Pack, the full SRT 392 gives you 15.4-inch, two piece front brake rotors and 6-piston front Brembo calipers, a unique center-intake hood, special 20x9.5” Slingshot alloy wheels and 275mm wide Pirellis, adaptive dampers, a 900-watt Harman Kardon sound system, heated and cooled Nappa leather seats, and a price tag of $46,990 with the manual transmission. Add just $400 to step up to the 8-speed auto. SRT w/ HEMI Hellcat Engine – This is the one everyone’s buzzing about, for good reason. To the SRT 392 outlined above, we add the 707hp/650lb-ft supercharged Hellcat HEMI engine, a Viper-sourced 6-speed Tremec manual (or beefed-up 8-speed auto), and unique driveline, cooling, and active exhaust systems to support that massive powerhouse of an engine. $60,990, all-in for the manual.
SRT w/ Hellcat EngineDaunting, right? It seems deliberately setup to deceive everyone but forum jockeys, because even major automotive news outlets have published incorrect model names since the media embargo lifted. All of the information above has been pulled straight from the press materials supplied by Dodge - if you spot any discrepancies, you know where to send your letters. Our driving impressions will be for the model everyone’s calling simply the “Hellcat”, but which is published in Dodge’s literature as the “Dodge Challenger SRT with the HEMI Hellcat”. Try listing that on your registration slip. More news tomorrow, when I’ll post the track review of the Challenger SRT w/ Hellcat engine.