So, what happens when all that rebellion (and I do mean all) is housed in modern-day American Muscle, swathed in loud colours, and coupled with an exhaust note that would make the devil blush?
You’ve got yourself the brand new 2015 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat. Yessir.
700 horsepower? Really?
I’m here to tell you that, yes, the Challenger Hellcat has a proper 707 horsepower supercharged 6.2L HEMI SRT that also pushes heads back with 650 lb-ft of torque. Just look at those numbers again. Let them sink in. Seven hundred and seven horsepower.
The Challenger Hellcat enters an exclusive club reserved for million-dollar cars that include the likes of the Bugatti Veyron, Gumpert Apollo S, and even the Canadian-grown HTT Plethore LC-750. That’s a pretty ballsy move considering this American badass costs under $70k.
And now you’re thinking: Sure, it has all that power, but you’ll spend all your time trying to keep the backend from wiggling around instead of actually driving the thing.
Well, here’s where I tell you you’re wrong, very wrong.
Sure, you can get the newly sculpted and oh-so retro rear to push out playfully with the right amount of right-foot pressure, but you can also traverse a snaking racetrack with precision and only minimal body roll. The brakes will be used significantly in the Hellcat (those corners come up quickly with all those horses racing out the rear tires), but the Brembos are up to the task, trust me.
Handling is perhaps the most precise I’ve encountered behind the wheel of a beefy American muscle car. A few recon laps in and I was able to throw the Hellcat around as if I were behind the wheel of a much lighter, more nimble vehicle with half the horsepower.
What’s it like to drive 700 horses?
Just like driving 458 horses or 500 horses. It’s all about having a healthy respect for the power you harness beneath your right foot. Overstay your welcome in the Hellcat’s powerband (which is essentially everywhere, all the time) and it will scratch, hard.
However, on the street, the devilish Hellcat can be docile and even purrs a little on wide open stretches. Tight cornering and switchbacks aren’t as pleasant in the Challenger, but only because of its width and wheelbase that’s a bit large for narrower streets. This can be a cruiser though, and those who want a Challenger will want it to cruise just as easily as it tackles the drag strip.
Is the design really based on the 1971 model?
The 2015 Dodge Challenger looks more like the ‘70s era model than every before, and that’s just pure class and the perfect look in my opinion. From the dual chrome inserts in the front fascia to the much narrower rear end, the ’15 Challenger is all kinds of sexy and all kinds of American muscle in just the right proportions.
Of course, subtle hood changes across the lineup change that front fascia look, with the Hellcat’s being the most dramatic with clean front bumpers and a wider front lip and splitter than the other models (as well as a larger wing in the back to keep extra pressure on the rear wheels when you really let the ponies out).
Thankfully, the interior is much more modern than the ‘70s. With the latest and greatest in auto tech, the 2015 Dodge Challenger can be just as cool and connected as a MINI Cooper with apps, driver settings, Uconnect, and even front collision warnings and blind spot detection.
Why does the Hellcat come with three keys?
That’s right: three keys. Dodge isn’t sick of people asking for replacement fobs when they lose them, Dodge thought this one through and each Hellcat comes with a very special red key fob (and two black ones). The red key fob unlocks and unleashes the fires of hell (read: all 707 horsepower and 650 lb-ft of torque). The black keys limit that amount to around the 500 mark. And you can take that a step further by putting the Hellcat in valet mode and really limiting the revs, horsepower, speed, etc. Because 700 horses really is no joke.
Could the Dodge Challenger Hellcat be an everyday car?
I tried my best to imagine life with a Dodge Challenger Hellcat. Waking up to that V8 growl every morning, the sound of the supercharger whining through the neighbourhood on cool, crisp fall mornings, rowing my way through six short-shift gears (because I’d obviously have the $1,000-extra manual over the 8-speed automatic), and I think it could.
The Hellcat buyer is a specific one. He/she is someone who knows the Challenger model, knows the history, and has an affinity for American muscle and American cars in general.
Here’s what I think: Any foibles the new Challenger has are made non-existent by what it is as a whole. Dodge has managed to truthfully recreate a halo car, perhaps the halo car, in the new Challenger Hellcat. These halo cars are bought on mostly emotion, and if nothing else the Challenger Hellcat raises all kinds of emotions (and adrenaline).