Tag - Dodge

Driven: 2015 Dodge Charger SRT 392 & Hellcat

2015 Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat
Though my ownership punch card skews heavily in favor of the import, I’m a documented fan of the American car as a species. I owned and loved a 5-liter 2011 Mustang GT. I find the current Corvette to be an absolutely fantastic specimen (though the Camaro leaves me a little cold). And though it’s been only a short while, I can consider myself an honest Mopar fan thanks to the Hellcat – specifically, the Challenger Hellcat I spent some time with over the summer. And now the newest variant to receive the monster 6.2-liter supercharged Hellcat powertrain – the 2015 Charger - looks set to bring my budding domestic love affair to a full boil. 2015 Dodge Charger SRT HellcatIf there’s one thing this car proves, perhaps in defiance of our hipster culture that suggests otherwise, it’s that it is actually possible for something to be both genuine and ironic. Witness the way the supercharged monster under the Charger Hellcat’s hood seems to flout convention – 707 horsepower? Why even attempt such a thing in a post-CAFE world? Dodge’s answer appears to be twofold: “because we could, and because we could do it well”. They’ve created a motor that can bully around an otherwise comfortable and composed 4,575-pound sedan in serious fashion, and then be dialed back down, dropped into 8th gear and left to plod home on the highway achieving mid-20 MPGs. I’m not sure there’s ever been a sedan so dichotomous of character – let alone at this price point, or by an American brand. 2015 Dodge Charger SRT HellcatWhat it adds up to is a pure riot for the driver – especially when the Charger is being flogged around a racetrack, which is precisely what I did during my time with the car. Summit Point Raceway in West Virginia was the venue, a small course with a long straightaway perfect for exploiting the Hellcat’s prodigious power, punctuated by rolling hills and switchbacks. As demonstrated during the Challenger drive event at Portland International Raceway, a closed course is the best, nay, the only place to truly exploit Hellcat’s capabilities. And just like its two door brother, the Charger doesn’t disappoint. The power is mind-bending; it’s hard to imagine ever becoming jaded about its potency. There’s been much said about the competence of the new breed of traditional torque-converter automatics, especially the 8-speeds associated with ZF. I won’t belabor the point, but suffice it to say, the Charger’s sole transmission (aforementioned 8-speed) is equally happy loafing around in Drive or performing full-throttle upshifts firm enough to jostle hairdos. [caption id="attachment_11125" align="aligncenter" width="600"]SAMSUNG CSC SRT 392[/caption] Thing is, the car that stole my heart wasn’t the Hellcat. It was the “tamer” of the two SRT Charger offerings, the 392. That car, with its 485-horsepower naturally-aspirated 6.4-liter HEMI, is certainly no slouch. But its acceleration doesn’t elicit fear in the hearts of men the way the Hellcat’s does…merely those of young children and the elderly. It’s simply “fast” whereas the Charger Hellcat is “stupid fast”. That much is noticeable on the track. But on the street, where we mere mortals play most of the time, the difference is academic – either is capable of adding points to your license in short order. And most of the SRT 392’s low-speed acceleration doesn’t dissipate so quickly into tire dust the way the Hellcat’s does. As a result, it feels nearly as fast – because it’s more usable, more of the time. [caption id="attachment_11128" align="aligncenter" width="600"]SAMSUNG CSC SRT 392[/caption] The rest of the SRT 392 package is just as impressive as the Hellcat. It’s got the same massive 15.4” front and 13.8” rear Brembo brakes capable of detaching retinas at full deceleration. Its sole transmission is still a capable, paddle-shifter-equipped 8-speed automatic. It even looks the same as the Hellcat, save for a couple of missing heat extractor vents in the hood and a couple of kitty badges on the fenders. Of course, you don’t have the pleasure of telling people you drive a Hellcat, but I have a feeling that disappointment would fade over time. 2015 Dodge Charger SRT HellcatAside from the addition of the Hellcat and enhanced powertrains across the rest of the range, the 2015 Charger has benefitted from an obvious facelift. That facelift is more than “face”-deep, however; the fascia’s been heavily revised and is more modern than the 2014’s throwback front end. Dodge is quick to point out that every body panel save the windows and roof has been re-sculpted, though the difference is tough to notice. What you might notice are the revised LED headlights and taillights. Minor interior touch-ups lift what was already a rationally laid-out, comfortable, and roomy place to spend time. 2015 Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat (shown in Ruby Red Alcantara sued 2015 Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat (shown in Ruby Red Alcantara suedThe 2014 Charger didn’t need much in the way of changes. And the 2015 remains essentially what that car was: a modern interpretation of a classic American big-engined sedan. The new revisions bring it in line with what little direct competition the SRT Charger has – namely the Chevy SS – in terms of refinement and available equipment levels. But the SRT 392 and Hellcat models, frankly, bring the Charger into a different league - a pure arms race where bragging rights are measured against the likes of Ferrari and Lamborghini. 2015 Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat   [gallery ids="11108,11114,11115,11116,11117,11118,11119,11120,11121,11128,11127,11126,11125,11124,11122,11113,11111,11110,11109,11112"] 2015 Dodge Charger SRT 392/Hellcat Base price – SRT 392: $47,385 Base price – SRT Hellcat: $63,995 Powertrain – SRT 392: 6.4-liter HEMI V8, 485 horsepower, 475 lb-ft torque, 8-speed automatic transmission Powertrain – SRT Hellcat: 6.2-liter supercharged HEMI V8, 707 horsepower, 650 lb-ft torque, 8-speed automatic transmission Dodge provided the vehicle for testing purposes and one tank of gas. Photos by the manufacturer and author.

Dodge Unveils the 204mph Charger SRT Hellcat

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Dodge pulled the covers off the fastest sedan in the world today with the introduction of the 2015 Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat. The Charger SRT Hellcat has the same 6.2-liter HEMI Hellcat engine from the SRT Charger Hellcat and produces 707 horsepower and 650 lb.-ft of torque. Dodge says that the Charger SRT Hellcat has an NHRA certified 1/4 mile time of 11.0 seconds on street tires, and a top speed of 204 mph. We've got the full tech rundown and 69 photo gallery after the jump. Get ready to pick your jaw up off the floor. [gallery columns="4" ids="10673,10672,10671,10670,10669,10668,10667,10666,10665,10656,10664,10663,10662,10661,10660,10659,10658,10657,10647,10648,10649,10650,10651,10652,10653,10654,10655,10646,10645,10644,10643,10642,10641,10640,10639,10638,10629,10630,10631,10632,10633,10634,10635,10636,10637,10628,10627,10626,10625,10624,10623,10622,10621,10620,10611,10612,10613,10614,10615,10616,10617,10618,10619,10610,10609,10608,10607,10606,10605" orderby="rand"]

With 707 horsepower, an NHRA-certified quarter mile elapsed time of 11.0 seconds on street tires and a top speed of 204 miles per hour, the world’s only four-door muscle car is the quickest, fastest and most powerful sedan ever

  • Supercharged 6.2-liter HEMI® Hellcat engine produces 707 horsepower and 650 lb.-ft. of torque, making it the most powerful V-8 Chrysler Group LLC has ever produced
  • Unrivaled four-door performance includes quarter mile elapsed time in 11.0 seconds on street tires, 0-100-0 mph in under 13 seconds and a top speed of 204 miles per hour (mph)
  • Dodge and SRT designers re-sculpt and refined nearly every body panel with functional performance cues, including heat extractors in the hood, unique front and rear fascias and dramatic LED lighting in both front and rear
  • Segment-first TorqueFlite heavy-duty eight-speed automatic transmission capable of delivering fuel-efficient street driving and maximum performance track driving with 160 millisecond shifts with rev-matching
  • New performance attributes include the largest brakes ever offered in a Chrysler Group vehicle – 15.4-inch Brembo two-piece rotors with six-piston calipers, 20 x 9.5-inch wide forged aluminum wheels with Pirelli P Zero performance tires, adaptive damping three-mode suspension and three-mode, heavy-duty eight-speed automatic transmission
  • New SRT Performance Pages allow drivers to tailor the driving experience by controlling horsepower, transmission shift speeds, paddle shifters, traction and suspension
  • Two key fobs – one black and one red. The red fob unlocks all 707 horsepower
  • New interior design elements, including SRT three-spoke, flat-bottom steering wheel, 7-inch reconfigurable digital gauge cluster, 8.4-inch touchscreen, Nappa leather and Alcantara suede seating, premium materials and a choice of four new trim and color combinations
  • Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat features a slew of the latest high-tech features, including the new award-winning available Uconnect Access system, Uconnect Access Services with roadside assistance, theft-alarm notification, voice texting, new 3-D navigation and the ability to turn the Charger into a Wi-Fi hotspot
August 13, 2014 , Auburn Hills, Mich. - Dodge is upping its high-performance game again with the unveiling of the new 2015 Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat. The new Charger SRT Hellcat will feature the supercharged 6.2-liter HEMI® Hellcat V-8 engine that produces 707 horsepower and 650 lb.-ft. of torque – making it the quickest, fastest, most powerful production sedan in the world, as well as the most capable and technologically advanced four-door muscle car in America. “For the last eight years, a large part of the Dodge Charger’s successful formula has been its many personalities. It’s a muscle car, a performance sedan, a family capable sedan; its success is that it can be any or all of those things, depending on how the customer chooses to equip their car,” said Tim Kuniskis, President and CEO — Dodge and SRT Brands. “And now, with a NHRA-certified quarter mile time of 11.0 seconds and a 204 mph top speed, the new 2015 Dodge Charger Hellcat redefines itself again, as the quickest, fastest, most powerful sedan in the world!” The 2015 Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat will be built at the Brampton (Ont.) Assembly plant. Production is slated to begin in the first quarter of 2015. Awe-inspiring powertrain; largest brakes ever offered in a Chrysler Group vehicle The new 2015 Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat is powered by the new supercharged 6.2-liter HEMI V-8 engine. Its 707 horsepower matches the highest rating of any V-8 engine in Chrysler Group’s celebrated history – that of the 2015 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat. The all-new supercharged V-8 engine is mated to the beefy new TorqueFlite 8HP90 eight-speed automatic transmission. This new Hellcat engine is Dodge and SRT’s first application of V-8 supercharger technology, featuring a forged-steel crankshaft with induction-hardened bearing surfaces. The result is a crank so well-engineered it can withstand firing pressures of 110 bar (1,595 psi) – the equivalent of five family sedans standing on each piston, every two revolutions. And its unique, specially tuned crank damper has been tested to 13,000 rpm. High-strength, forged-alloy pistons, developed using advanced telemetry measurement, are coupled to powder-forged connecting rods with high-load-capacity bushings and diamond-like-carbon-coated piston pins. The supercharged 6.2-liter HEMI V-8 has premium-grade, heat-treated aluminum-alloy cylinder heads, which are optimized for superior thermal conductivity. And its die-cast aluminum rocker covers are HEMI Orange. Standard on the Charger SRT Hellcat is the largest front-brake package ever offered in a Chrysler Group vehicle, which were first introduced on the 2015 Challenger SRT Hellcat, featuring all-new 390-mm (15.4-inch) Brembo two-piece rotors with six-piston calipers for outstanding heat management and thermal capacity and longevity. The unrivaled four-door performance numbers tell an impressive story with the quarter mile in 11.0 seconds, 0-100-0 mph in under 13 seconds, and a top speed of 204 mile per hour (mph). All-new Drive Modes tailor the driving experience to each individual driver Whether its on-road or on-track,ChargerSRTHellcat owners can personalize their drive experience, via the all-new Drive Modes feature. Drive Modes tailor the driving experience by controlling horsepower, transmission shift speeds,paddleshifters, traction and suspension. Drive Modes are pre-configured for Sport, Track and Default settings, while the Custom setting lets the driver customize the drive experience to their favorite settings.
  • Custom — Allows the driver to personalize the vehicle’s performance
  • Sport — Delivers increased vehicle performance capability over the Default Mode
  • Track — Delivers maximum vehicle performance capability on smooth, dry surfaces
  • Default — Activates automatically when starting the vehicle
  • Eco — Maximizes fuel economy with a revised shift schedule, pedal map and second-gear starts
The Drive Modesfeatureis controlled throughtheUconnect systemandmay be accessed by performing any of the following:
  • Pushing the SRT button on the instrument panel switch bank
  • Selecting “Drive Modes” from the “SRT & Apps” menu
  • Selecting “Drive Modes” from within the Performance Pages menu
Unlocking the power The all-new 2015 DodgeChargerSRTHellcat comes standard with two key fobs – red and black. The red key fob is the only key that can unlock the full horsepower and torque potential oftheSRTHellcat engine; while the black key fob limits the driver to a reduced engine output. When ValetModeis activated, the following vehicleconfigurationsare enabled:
  • Engine is remapped to significantly reduce horsepower and torque; limited to 4,000 rpm
  • Transmission locks out access to first gear and upshifts earlier than normal
  • Transmission will treat the manual shifter position the same as the drive position
  • Traction, steering and suspension are set to their “Street” settings
  • Steering-wheel paddle shifters are disabled
  • Drive Mode functions are disabled
  • Electronic stability control (ESC) is enabled to Full-on
  • Launch Control is disabled
The driver can activate and deactivate Valet Mode with a four-digit PIN code they create.
Sinister, functional exterior designInspired by its performance-enthusiast roots when Charger first launched more than 45 years ago, the new Charger successfully pays homage to past muscle cars while offering distinctly modern all-new exterior and interior appointments. The Dodge and SRT design team builds upon the 2015 Dodge Charger’s new modern four-door fastback coupe’s already iconic exterior styling by adding a sinister-looking, unique front fascia, hood, rear fascia and spoiler. The new exterior of the 2015 Dodge Charger is spiritually inspired by the iconic second-generation Charger from the late 1960s, and for 2015, specifically draws its cues from the 1969 model. With its rear-wheel-drive (RWD) platform and proven power, the Charger’s modern take on old-school muscle is sure to resonate with today’s enthusiasts. Up front, the Charger SRT Hellcat receives the larger, power-bulge aluminum hood, which features a dedicated “cold-air” intake – a visual styling cue from the first Viper coupe built in 1996 – and dual air extractors to ensure effective removal of heat and reduced air turbulence in the engine compartment. The redesigned front fascia and grille use unique, blacked out upper and lower textures to produce the menacing look that is sure to make onlookers notice the ultimate performance sedan. An integrated front splitter optimizes airflow to the cooling modules without compromising vehicle balance. Filling the wheel wells are “Slingshot” split-seven spoke 20 x 9.5-inch, lightweight forged-aluminum wheels with either standard Matte Black or available Brass Monkey/dark bronze finishes. Two new 275/40ZR20 Pirelli P Zero tires provide performance for all seasons. Both Pirelli P Zero Nero and P Zero tires are Y-Plus rated to handle the extreme speeds the Charger SRT Hellcat is capable of producing. At the rear, a single piece decked spoiler is painted in body color while the unique fascia and valence showcase the 4-inch round exhaust tips. The Dodge Charger SRT’s signature “racetrack” LED tail lamps take on the same continuous glowing ribbon of light that debuted on the new 2014 Dodge Durango. The center high-mounted stop lamp is relocated from the top of the deck lid to the roofline inside the back glass, allowing centering of the Charger SRT’s backup camera. The rear styling makeover begins at the touchdown point of the C-pillar, which is moved rearward to create an even more pronounced fastback appearance combined with a shorter rear overhang.
High-performance driver-oriented interior The 2015 Charger SRT Hellcat’s restyled driver-focused interior features premium, soft-touch materials, a new 7-inch thin-film transistor (TFT) customizable digital instrument gauge cluster and a new instrument panel center stack with the latest generation 8.4-inch Uconnect touchscreen media center. New for 2015, drivers can select one of the many offered backgrounds to connect the digital look and feel with their chosen interior package. In addition, the Charger SRT Hellcat comes standard with a premium 900 watt, 18-speaker Harmon Kardon audio system. An all-new and class-exclusive electronic shifter with an all-new driver-oriented T-handle provides the driver with intuitive gear selection and offers an Auto Stick selector gate for added control. A redesigned SRT-branded heated steering wheel features a flat bottom and thick rim for the high-performance driver. Standard paddle shifters are located on the back of the upper spokes. The buttons to control the driver-configurable, full-color thin-film transistor (TFT) display are large and illuminated. Buttons for Uconnect and phone access now reside along the bottom edge of the horizontal spokes. Optional adaptive cruise control is configured by buttons that are symmetrically opposite on the right-hand side of the wheel. As before, the highly praised audio controls are still found on the back of the upper spokes. This new power tilt-telescoping steering wheel also has a 360-degree heat element. The new 2015 Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat features redesigned seats with improved cushioning and more comfortable contours. For improved comfort and convenience, the SRT Hellcat includes standard heated and ventilated front high-performance seats and heated rear seats.
Charger continues to grow its market share The 2015 Dodge Charger competes in the U.S. full-size car market, but stands alone in a class by itself as the only American-bred four-door muscle car. In March of 2014, the Dodge brand reached a significant milestone, with Challenger and Charger sales combining to sell a total of more than 1 million units in the United States. The Charger’s combination of aggressive and youthful image, full-size functionality and world-class engineering and quality resonates with young and affluent buyers. Charger’s purchasers on average are 15 years younger than its competitors’ buyers within the segment, with more than half identifying themselves as millennials or Generation Xers. The Charger’s appeal is attracting a high number of conquest buyers, helping drive a 62 percent increase in sales since 2009 – double the growth of the standard full-size car segment. In 2013, Charger posted its best sales year since 2007, further fueling a 3.2 percentage point gain in market share since 2009.

Tested: 2015 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat

2015-Dodge-Challenger-SRT-Hellcat
Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the last few weeks, you probably know there’s a new, heavily revised 2015 Dodge Challenger on the horizon. And for the last week or so, there’s been an inundation of media about the fastest, most powerful iteration of said new Challenger (actually, make that any muscle car, ever) known as the Hellcat. I went to the press introduction to spend a day with the Challenger, in the hopes of getting past the hype and finding out what this new Hellcat is really all about. Read on to find out. SAMSUNG CSC SAMSUNG CSC To start off with, this 2015 Challenger isn't just comprised of a few new trim packages - it's the most thorough revision the big Dodge coupe has seen since its intro back in 2008. The modern Challenger has always been a great looking car, combining its retro charm and modern touches more successfully than either of its Motown rivals. The 2015 revisions go just that little bit further toward evoking the spirit of the 1971 model, with modestly revised front and rear fascias that mimic the styling of that model year but also bring the Challenger into more modern territory with LED corona-ring headlights and LED taillights, plus a variety of functionally vented and scooped hood designs. It’s a great looking package, from V6 SXT to the halo Hellcat, and the extensive variety of paint and trim combinations accurately recalls the era of the 1970s original. 2015 Dodge Challenger SRT with the HEMI® Hellcat engine - Sepia 2015 Dodge Challenger SRT with the HEMI® Hellcat engine - tacho Clearly, Dodge spent a lot of the revised Challenger’s budget on the interior – it’s a massive leap forward. The previous Challenger always looked the business on the outside, but right from the get-go, it was apparent the DaimlerChrysler bean counters had stripped all the fun out of the cabin. This new interior makes up for that in spades, sporting a pleasantly driver-centric dashboard, throwback styling, far better materials, and enough tech to shame the rest of the segment. In fact, while the Challenger was always a comfortable coupe, it’s now actually got an interior that will make you want to spend time in it – turning it into quite the American GT car. The seats are still big-boy tailored – the bolsters look heavy-duty in photos, but the thinner of frame may find that they hug a little too lightly in hard cornering. The alcantara center fabric helps keep you from being flung out the side window, at least. 2015 Dodge Challenger SRT with the HEMI® Hellcat engine - Ruby 2015 Dodge Challenger SRT with the HEMI® Hellcat engine - 8.4 i The fully baked uConnect touchscreen system finally appears here as it does elsewhere in the Dodge lineup, controlling just about everything in the car but augmented by a helpful arrangement of buttons and knobs just below. Using the controls at knee level but looking up for the screen felt a little unnatural at first, but you quickly get used to it, and the rest of the cabin’s ergonomics are spot on. Also new is an in-depth suite of performance apps that let you easily tailor steering weight, damper firmness, automatic transmission response and traction/stability control settings completely independently of one another. 2015 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat integrated climate and functio 2015 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat 8.4 inch U-Connect Drive Modes   But let’s get to the real meat of this sandwich – the motor. The Hellcat engine is the revised Challenger SRT’s raison d’etre, so I’ll spend a bit more time dwelling on this 707-horsepower, 650 lb-ft behemoth than I otherwise might. SAMSUNG CSC   As you would expect, it’s the power that dominates the Hellcat driving experience. It’s simply omnipresent in a way that few other cars currently on sale can match, and none at a similar price point. Even toeing lightly into the gas sends shivers through the rear tires, such that you’d probably find it tough to drive a lesser car immediately after hopping out of the Hellcat, because it forces you to re-calibrate your right leg muscles. From idle to redline, there’s thrust everywhere, and the psychotic bellow that comes from the exhaust pipes is rivaled for sound quality only by the supercharger’s dominant whine. SAMSUNG CSC So how fast is it? Damn fast. Really, really damn fast. I can count the number of high-10/low-11 second cars I've driven on one hand, so for me, the experience was certainly eye-opening. You feel as if you can almost extract all the performance it’s capable of on a race track. But on the road, forget it – you’ll constantly be managing speed and acceleration in the back of your mind, knowing a ticket or jail time is close at hand. The transmissions tasked with getting all that power and torque to the ground have a lot on their plate, but perform admirably. The new 8-speed TorqueFlite automatic (an across-the-board addition, but beefed up for the Hellcat) quickly and reliably cracks off firm upshifts and rev-matched downshifts through the standard-issue paddles. It also helps free up processing power in your brain for dealing with blurring scenery and fast-approaching corners, which would otherwise be used to manage shifting the manual. The six-speed Tremec ‘box, tapped for duty from the Viper, operates smoothly as well, and would probably be my choice for street driving – shift action is tight and well-defined, the clutch is heavy enough - but in no way overpowering - and easily modulated. IMG_5477-3 Track Impressions: So here’s what we know so far: The Challenger SRT Hellcat is completely bonkers from a power delivery and noise perspective; simply on another level. As such, I was initially tentative in the car around the track, what with our day in Portland getting off to a very wet start and standing water crowding the straights in many places. But the Hellcat is very trustworthy in the rain - it'll let you play as loose or as tight as you want to, with enough grip if you can tailor your throttle inputs, or controllable sideways antics virtually anywhere, at any speed, if you so desire. Steering response is moderately weighted and decently quick, but while the Hellcat turns-in fairly well, this is nevertheless a car that carries 2,500 pounds or so of forward bias, and you can feel it in slower corners. Of course, oversteer is never more than a quick jab of the throttle away. The 15.4”, two-piece front steel rotors and 6-piston Brembo calipers do an admirable job of slowing the Hellcat on track from a decent clip, though with only two flying hot laps per session available during my time with the car, I probably wasn't even starting to push their heat management limits. Still, for those intent on tracking their Hellcats, I’m sure a set of steel braided lines, high-temp fluid and pads would be enough to shore up braking for just about any situation. SAMSUNG CSC Portland International Raceway, where a portion of the Challenger media release was held,  is a relatively small, straightforward track, with the "back straight" (the area between turns 8 and 10 on the map below) being the best place to gain a good bit of speed. As the day went on and the rain abated, a mostly dry line started to form around the track, though this curved back straight remained damp due to it being in the shade all afternoon. I was hitting about 120 mph in the 485-horsepower SRT 392 in the first (very) wet sessions of the day back here, and 128 or so in the Hellcat. On my last and driest lapping session of the day, I managed 134 mph along the back straight - still slightly damp, mind you, but nearly dry elsewhere. My instructor was saying the Hellcats were good for about 140 or so on a bone dry back straight in professional hands, so at my more novice skill level, the fact that the car created such a high level of comfort in just a handful of laps (I probably had 8 total laps in Hellcats by the end of the day, maybe 20 total in all Challengers) really speaks to the car's setup - Dodge got it dead on, making the car playful and oversteery enough to feel "untamed" to most mortals, but being fully planted and trustworthy enough to really lean on the car in the dry when properly driven. It's an amazing machine to experience fully uncorked – and an experience that’ll stick with you for some time. 1280px-Portland_international_raceway.svg

(Photo courtesy of Wikipedia)

Verdict:

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. IMG_5463 [gallery ids="10245,10244,10247,10246,10243,10242,10241,10239,10238,10237,10236,10235,10234,10233,10240"] 2015 Dodge Challenger SRT w/ Hellcat Engine Base price: $60,990 Powertrain: 6.2-liter supercharged V8, 8-speed automatic or 6-speed manual transmission, rear-wheel drive – 707 horsepower, 650 lb-ft. torque S:S:L-observed fuel economy: N/A Dodge provided travel to Portland, meals and accommodations for two days. They also provided the vehicles for street and on-track testing purposes and all gas. Photos by the author (interior and burnout shots – Dodge).

Decoding the 2015 Challenger line-up

Clockwise starting from top: 2015 Dodge Challenger SXT, 2015 Dod
Trying to figure out which 2015 Challenger best fits your desired performance goals and options list requires poring over a labyrinth of commingled model names and trim packages; we figured a basic primer would be helpful coming out of our press introduction with the cars yesterday in rainy Portland. Here goes: SXT – Also known as the base model. 3.6-liter V6, 305hp/268lb-ft. 8-speed automatic only, 18-inch wheels, 5” uConnect system. Starts at $27,990. Adding the Super Track Pack for $1,600 nets 20” Hyper Black wheels, high-performance brakes, steering and suspension, a rear spoiler and park assist. There’s also a Super Sport group below the track pack that features 20” wheels, paddle shifters, and performance brakes, but that’s it. This one hasn’t been priced yet but figure a few hundred bucks cheaper than the Super Track Pack. SXT Plus - Starts with the SXT and adds some cosmetic touches and 20” wheels outside, and the nicer 8.4” uConnect, heated and ventilated Nappa leather seats, and a 276-watt Alpine stereo on the inside. $30,990. The $1,600 Super Track Pack is available here, as well. SAMSUNG CSC

SXT Plus

R/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. IMG_5474

6.4-liter Scat Pack (no Appearance Group)

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6.4-liter Scat Pack w/ Scat Pack Appearance Group

392 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. SAMSUNG CSC

SRT w/ Hellcat Engine

Daunting, 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.

Driven: 2014 Dodge Charger SRT8 Super Bee

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SAMSUNG CSC The Charger SRT8 Super Bee, in its General-Lee-aping shade of orange, is a two ton slab of complete un-subtlety. As someone who values fast cars that also fly below the radar, I feel a bit ashamed admitting that I completely love it. SAMSUNG CSC For those who don’t value anonymity, the Charger SRT8 Super Bee might epitomize the modern American muscle car. Our tester and its bright exterior hue (it’s actually Header Orange, not General Lee Orange), flat black rear wing and tape stripes, and coal bin black interior look decidedly throw-back. But its road manners are actually quite composed and modern. Perhaps too composed, in fact. SAMSUNG CSC That honking 6.4-liter "392 Hemi" V8 up front makes its 470-horsepower presence clearly felt every time you stomp the right pedal, but in terms of sound, a little more wouldn’t go amiss. The exhaust note from outside the car is heavenly, according to various friends who drove behind me during my week in the car. But from inside the well-insulated cabin, there’s little drama to be heard. SAMSUNG CSC The ride is similarly polished – it’s resolutely firm, but actually manages to be surprisingly composed over rough pavement. Cornering is flat up to about eight-tenths, at which point the Charger’s poundage starts to make itself known and threatens to overwhelm the relatively narrow 245-section Goodyear summer rubber at each end. The rear tires are especially easy to overwhelm, again aided by a less-than-judicious right foot. You know, if you’re into that sort of thing. SAMSUNG CSC SAMSUNG CSC Interior comfort is high, but design and feature content come up short for the $50k price tag. A back-up camera, sunroof, and heated leather seats are all on the long list of items that didn't make the spec sheet. Of course, that’s simply the trade-off you need to be prepared to make if you crave a four-door that will happily turn mid-12-second quarter mile times, as well as tote five adults out to dinner. And at the very least, you’ve got the 8.4-inch uConnect system, covered on these pages to great acclaim many times before, served with a decently loud stereo and navigation. SAMSUNG CSC SAMSUNG CSC Putting the Charger SRT-8, especially in its lowest-price Super Bee form, into context within the new vehicle marketplace is a bit of a challenge. On paper, its closest competitor is the Chevy SS, what with them both occupying the same sticker price range in the mid-$40s and both offering large pushrod V8s that drive their rear wheels through automatic transmissions. The SS is down on power compared to the Dodge, though, and in terms of visual firepower it comes up short. In the European realm, an Audi S4 or BMW 335i M-sport with a few added options both squeeze under the $50,000 price barrier and provide similar poke, but offer a vastly different driving experience and are about as comparable to the American duo as apples and hand grenades. SAMSUNG CSC Sheer brute horsepower-per-dollar, as well as styling that rivals a Gallardo’s for attention-grabbing ability, is the Super Bee’s trump card. Play that one every time, and it’ll never let you down. [gallery ids="10005,9997,9996,9995,9994,9998,10008,9999,10006,10001,10000,10002,10003"]   2014 Dodge Charger SRT8 Super Bee Base price: $45,380 Price as tested: $49,710 Options on test car: Convenience Group II ($595), HID headlights ($595), Black roof ($1,500), Uconnect touch-screen navigation system ($1,195), Summer tires ($150), Paddle shifters ($295) Powertrain: 6.4-liter V8 engine, five-speed automatic transmission, rear-wheel drive – 470 horsepower, 470 lb-ft torque S:S:L-observed fuel economy: 18.2 mpg