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In life, there are ups and downs, some of which you will forget and other times you will always remember. For me, this week, the memory of driving around town in the hottest muscle car to come out of Detroit, the all-new 2015 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat with all of its American glorified 707 horsepower, will be a long lasting memory.
When the new Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat graced our presence through the never-ending information hub we know as the Internet, many individuals who considered themselves enthusiasts instantly became experts on the Hellcat overnight. When the initial impressions of the Hellcat rolled out of the mouths of my fellow journalists it was all music to the ears of Mopar addicts and those who cherish our current newfound automotive golden age. It was mostly information overload at the time but left a couple of my senses still yearning for the full experience of what the new 707-horsepower Challenger Hellcat really had to offer.
My time with the new 2015 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat is left to the confides of public streets with the addition of a couple closed roads that we have permission to truly experience the hellacious fury that the Hellcat bestowed upon us. In my driving time with the Challenger Hellcat’s 6.2-liter pushrod V8 spinning up to 6,000 rpm blown with a massively-proportioned supercharger, I was able to quickly find the limits of the under-patched 275/40/ZR20 Pirelli P-Zero tires. Sure, the rather huge Challenger Hellcat could use some larger tires out back. However, finding that threshold of traction and tire melting burnouts teaches you a few things, more along the lines of what not to do when you are in the mix of traffic on public roads and speed limit signs. You get my drift here. Of course, the Hellcat doesn’t do well with obeying speed limits as you could only imagine. Never despair when the cops can be seen in a distance, this heavy muscle comes to a stop in a relatively short 102 feet from 60 mph thanks to massively sized 6-piston Brembo calipers up front biting down on slotted floating rotors, and 4-piston calipers out back.
Getting to the brass tacks of the new Challenger Hellcat, its big, its furious, and it begs your undivided attention 100% of the time. Though, the Challenger Hellcat is not scary or overly intimidating after spending a good 30 minutes behind the wheel. Power delivery may not be all that predictable. I mean, whenever was 707-horsepower and 650 lb-ft something easy to keep in check? I admit, it takes some time to ease into full throttle excursions. First and second gear on warm tires become your new friend as you can actually lay the power down to the ground provided you have a clean paved surface and enough conscious right foot peddle action. It’s not all smoke and mirrors every time, it really isn’t.
Actually, most of the time it is.
The new Challenger Hellcat drives like a true American muscle car. It can be a bit clunky at times, it wallows in its hefty weight. Visibility out back from a massive blind spot is pain in the butt. I found my reliance on my Challenger Hellcat’s blind spot monitor and warning system as a crutch thanking it for keeping that menacing Sublime Green face looking pretty like Muhammad Ali after a Joe Frasier fight. Winning the American muscle game, that’s what the Hellcat is all about.
Is the Challenger Hellcat practical? Yes and no. Surprisingly, the 707 horsepower is not overbearing and can easily be tamed like a purring Tiger. Unleashing the inner cat can be a ferocious and a hell binding experience if you don’t know what to expect. Handling of the chassis at the hands of adaptive dampers with 3 modes, normal, sport and track, take all 4,160 pounds and pivots it on a virtual bending scale to liven up its tracking abilities. Still, handling is questionable and at the full mercy of your right foot – the Challenger Hellcat can dance to whatever tune your right foot demands as traction and stability control are almost a useless feat with so much power pumping through the rear tires. I will say, stability control and traction control in the default/normal setting takes a full second to clamp down on the rear wheels after spinning. In Sport mode the time limit is increased to a couple of seconds while there are rare instances of the system allowing you to perform a justifiable burnout. In Track mode, well, you have a wide range of freedom to toss the rear end around leaving the system to perform a magical act of sapping the fun but you could very well end up making an insurance claim. With all nanny systems off, the fun really ensues where you find yourself checking the prices of replacement tires.
Mastering the claimed 0-60 mph time in the “low 3 second range” and quarter mile time of about 10.8 seconds with racing slicks out back is more like your first try at Super Mario Bros. on the original Nintendo when it first came out in 1987. One day you may master it, but it sure won’t be on the first try. Throwing the 275-patched tires in your game and you’re likely to use up all of your rubber before capturing the flag with the magic number. I would imagine, having the highly praised and optional TorqueFlite 8-speed automatic transmission mated to the Hellcat’s supercharged HEMI would make matters a little easier.
By now, you have probably heard it all. The new Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat does this, it does that… it’s hellacious. Yeah, all of that and some.
I will tell you, living with such a vehicle from day to day was a surprise. It fit into my daily commutes just like any performance vehicle would. The exception is left to the Challenger Hellcat’s size and debatable handling at times, which would captivate and tantalize your senses like nothing else. If the throaty popping notes from the exhaust didn’t get your attention, the ease of oversteer into turns will undoubtedly tense a few internal muscles residing in the heated, ventilated, perforated, and ultra-supportive alcantara SRT-embroidered front seats.
Charting the few differences in a new 2015 Dodge Challenger SRT 392 and a Hellcat can be a task reserved for hard-core enthusiasts. With the exclusive 3-vent hood and Hellcat emblems on the side, both vehicles can easily be lost in translation until someone revs up the engine to give off that unmistakable sound. On the other hand, you can simply pop the hood or take it to the drag strip to see the 485-horsepower Challenger SRT 392 grow jealous of the Hellcat’s mad dash to the finish line. Just be sure you know the limitations of your right foot or you could be at the center of the next viral Hellcat video.
Many people are told that moderation is the key to a successful diet, which eventually leads to weight loss after diligently adhering to such advice. The same sentiment can be said about the Challenger Hellcat’s shear power. Moderation is the key to avoid imminent death or the obliterating the rear tires. Modulation of the throttle is a necessity that you will take delight in mastering once you win your first drag race against that Tesla Model S P85D that keeps haunting your dreams.
In my day-to-day functions, the new Challenger Hellcat proved to be an agreeable and less intimidating vehicle with each day. Having the task of toting around over 4,100 pounds, the 707 horsepower at 6,000 rpm seemed appropriate. Rowing through the gears on the Viper-sourced 6-speed manual transmission was assuring and never an indecisive situation. The Hellcat demanded your undivided attention and everything about its drivetrain is connected to the driver. The steering has a nice weight to it, the clutch activation is spot on, and the shifts can be mastered to bang each cog followed by throttle modulation allowing the rear tires to hookup. Things get even more interesting as the speedometer starts to climb into triple digits, the suspension damper settings come into play where the aggressive track setting seems to be the appropriate feel to further stabilize the large mass of the Challenger Hellcat. Think of it as one of the fastest rollercoasters full of overweight passengers. You’re going to want to be assured that the track is up to par and had its latest inspection go through without any red flags.
The cabin of the new Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat mostly mimics the Challenger 392 SRT line with the exception of the SRT gauges reading the 5,700 rpm redline and 200 mph mark on the speedometer. The menu sets, including the extensive features of the latest Uconnect touch-screen infotainment system, combines quick functioning menus and operations – probably the best in the business of infotainment systems. To boot, many of the SRT performance settings for the Hellcat’s Default, Custom, Sport and Track modes are dialed up through a quick access SRT button on the dashboard.
For those who want to listen to the stereo, something I didn’t bother with until my 4th day deep into driving the Challenger Hellcat, there is a Harmon Kardon system that seems to lack any midrange output in its high-low-dominating audio spectrum. Who needs a good stereo when you have the whine and hellacious growl from a 6.2-liter supercharged V8 with 707 horsepower? If you ask me, the engine IS the stereo!
In the department of value, a never-ending debate between dealership markups and increasing value perceptions, the Challenger SRT Hellcat is an initial bargain. At the as-tested price of $62,080 there is not much to argue with. The Hellcat is the ultimate American gun show attendee that everyone admires. Never shy about holstering a barrage of weaponry ready to unleash hell on anything that comes at it.
Copyright: 2015 AutomotiveAddicts.com
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