Photo: 2015 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat Photo 1
707 hp brings smiles, burnouts and low mileage
ASSOCIATE EDITOR GRAHAM KOZAK: The lame part of me is not quite sure why Dodge keeps sending us Hellcats — what more can we possibly say about these visceral-but-tractable monsters? Are they just daring us to find something wrong with them? Do they want us to get in trouble with the law?
The non-lame part of me quickly tells the other part to shut up, and soon enough I’m enjoying one of the most improbably well-executed marketing gimmicks in Detroit’s history.
I’ve been exceptionally lucky when it comes to lining up Hellcats for special occasions, too. Last year, I snagged a supercharged Challenger just in time to sit in the gridlock that is the Woodward Dream Cruise. This year, I celebrated the Fourth of July behind the wheel of the most ’Merican vehicle to ever come out of Brampton, Ontario. Then I went and shot off some Chinese fireworks. It was a star-spangled weekend.
But it wasn’t all patriotic chest-thumping — I did learn a bit more about the car. Or at least my behavior while in one. You’ve seen “Dr. Strangelove,” right? You know the titular character’s Roman-saluting alien hand? My accelerator foot is similarly afflicted. Any time I found a straight stretch of road, I wanted to absolutely floor it. I started looking forward to stop signs and stop lights, just to see how far you can push it before the rear wheels stop hooking up. It’s something about the intoxicatingly immediate power of a supercharged engine.
Anyway, no matter how much self-restraint you think you’ve got, too much seat time in a Hellcat will give you a sense of confidence you’re maybe not entirely deserving of — the LX/LC platform is nothing if not predictable and forgiving. Tires will start to screech. You’ll get a little wider in corners than you meant to. You’re unconsciously pushing the envelope, exploring the limits, getting a little too comfortable with the power on tap. You’re loosening up — and so is the car.
And that’s probably when you should put away the Red Key for a little while.
Actually, this thing is a pretty good conversation starter even when parked. While it was sitting in my driveway, a neighbor walked by to check it out, and we chatted for a while about the merits of automatic transmissions and stick shifts in drag cars, etc. Turns out he’s a total Mopar nut who tried to buy a Hellcat but couldn’t abide the year-long waitlist; he went with a Scat Pack car instead. Without the car as an icebreaker, would I have ever made his acquaintance?
So, that’s the Challenger Hellcat. It brings people together. It gives you good feelings. It boosts the oil industry’s bottom line. It’s good clean stupid fun. It’s America. Love it or leave it.
Photo: 2015 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat Photo 13
EXECUTIVE CREATIVE DIRECTOR KEN ROSS: The Hellcat represents all that is right with the world. As the rest of the car world continuous to crank out ambiguous machines that have all the excitement of a bowl of oatmeal, SRT builds a car that reminds us why we wanted to get our driver’s licenses as soon as we possibly could. This car is all about excess: 707 hp, 0-60 mph in around 3 seconds and a top speed of 199 mph.
The styling isn’t groundbreaking; it pulls on designs of the past and subtly rounds and reshapes the exterior for a little more modern feel. You have to look under the hood for the real sex appeal: The supercharged Hemi is displayed like a prize pig, no plastic beauty covers necessary.
The interior design is also a nod to the past but has all the modern conveniences you would want from a new vehicle. I like the roominess, but for a real throwback feel, the only thing missing is a bench seat with a fold-down arm rest.
I’m a real fan of this car. So much of what’s out there is happy to get a ribbon for participation. This car unabashedly goes for the win, and winning feels good.
Options: TorqueFlite Eight-Speed Automatic Transmission Steering Wheel Paddle Shifters AutoStick Automatic Transmission Remote Start System ($1,995), Gas Guzzler Tax ($1,700), Uconnect 8.4AN AM/FM/SXM/HD/BT/NAV, GPS Navigation, HD Radio, Sirius XM Traffic, Sirius XM Travel Link ($695),Redline Red Tri-Coat Pearl Exterior Paint ($500), 275/40ZR20 Summer Performance Tires ($395), Red Seat Belts ($95)