NEW YORK, New York — First is the 2018 Dodge Challenger SRT Demon’s favorite word: first production car to pull a wheelie, first production car with a transmission brake, first production car with a front passenger seat delete, first production car with AC-cooled intake air. It’s fitting for a car built from the ground up to make mincemeat of the quarter mile and any production car that dares to line up against it. With all of these firsts, you’ll have nothing but excuses if you finish second.
But Dodge has done everything in its power to make sure that doesn’t happen. The red-painted supercharged 6.2-liter HEMI under the largest-ever functional production hood scoop (45.2 square inches) wears a 2.7-liter supercharger to generate 14.5 psi of boost on its way to 808 horsepower and 717 lb-ft of torque on premium gas and a wicked 840 hp and 770 lb-ft of torque on high-octane race fuel. Dodge says it’s the highest horsepower V-8 ever put into a production car. Compared to the Hellcat, the Demon gets a 0.3-liter larger supercharger, 2.9-psi higher maximum boost pressure, a 300-rpm higher redline (now 6,500 rpm), two dual-stage fuel pumps instead of one, and three sources of intake air (Air-Grabber hood, Air-Catcher headlamp, and an inlet near the wheel liner).
Pair that brawny engine with the trans brake and SRT Torque Reserve system, which spins up the supercharger and increases engine air flow before launch, and you get what Dodge claims is the fastest 0-60 mph time of any production car at 2.3 seconds. That launch will produce the most acceleration g-force of any production car, enough to lift the front wheels into the air for a Guinness World Record 2.92 feet. Keep your foot down and the Demon will set the fastest production car quarter-mile time in 9.65 seconds and 140 mph, as certified by the National Hot Rod Association. But you won’t be able to test that theory in competition — the NHRA has already banned the Demon for being too fast.
If all of this sounds more like a factory-built drag race package car, like the COPO Camaro or Dodge’s own Drag Pak Challenger, than a street car, you’re paying attention. But the Demon isn’t a track-only special. It’s street legal, comes with a three-year/36,000-mile vehicle warranty and a five-year/60,000-mile powertrain one, and can run on either 100-octane race gas or 91-octane pump gas at will when fitted with the optional Direct Connection engine controller. It comes from the factory on 315/40 Nitto drag radials wrapped around 18×11-inch wheels, but despite providing 40 percent more grip at launch than the Hellcat’s tires, they’re street-legal, as well. Dodge also went for a square wheel/tire setup so that once you put the skinnies on the front at the drag strip, you’ve got another set of drag radials for the rear.
The interior, however, has been so thoroughly optimized for the drag strip that you won’t be able to bring any passengers along for the thrill ride — the front and rear passenger seats have been deleted to save weight. Fortunately, you can option them both back into the car for $1 each, but you’ll give up 113 lbs of the Demon’s weight reduction to do so (58 lbs for the front passenger seat and seat belt, 55 lbs for the rear seat, restraints, and floor mats).
Even the suspension has been optimized for the strip, maximizing weight transfer to the rear wheels, with 35 percent softer front springs and 28 percent softer rear springs, as well as softer, lighter (now hollow) anti-roll bars, 75 percent lower rate up front and 44 percent lower rate in the rear. Combined with the Bilstein Adaptive Damping shocks, the system improves traction at the rear of the Demon by 11 percent. Still, to get the most out of the Demon’s hole shot, you’ll want to activate Drag Mode, which tweaks the rebound and compression settings at each end and disables the traction control system while keeping stability control engaged. The transmission is also recalibrated for optimized acceleration (the TransBrake feature is only available in Drag Mode, and the torque converter lockup point is raised), the paddle shifters are turned on, steering assist is tweaked to maximize high-speed stability, and cabin cooling is diverted to the SRT Power Chiller system. Drag Mode holds that configuration as long as the car is at wide open throttle.
The Demon will also offer line lock, enabling easier burnouts — either stationary or rolling. The line lock feature disengages after 400 rear wheel revolutions. Delve into the console-mounted 8.4-inch screen’s menus and you’ll find Performance Pages, which allows the driver to set an rpm-adjustable launch control function, as well as adjustable shift lights (with customizable settings for each gear). You can even record the data from your runs down the strip. In addition to the customizable functions, Performance Pages also displays loads of useful performance data, including actual 0-60 mph time, 0-100 mph time, eighth-mile and quarter-mile ET and speed, peak g-forces, and full gauge readouts for just about every parameter you can imagine.
In addition to all this equipment and software, each 2018 Dodge Demon comes with a full-day session at Bob Bondurant School of High-Performance Driving, a Track Tech Manual that covers all of the Demon’s performance enhancements, a log book for track times, and a copy of the car’s build sheet. For the true drag enthusiast, Dodge is offering the Demon Crate, a box of special equipment bearing the buyer’s name, and the car’s VIN and serial number. The Demon Crate includes:
- Performance powertrain control module with high-octane engine calibration
- Replacement switch module containing high-octane button
- Conical performance air filter
- Passenger mirror block-off plate
- Narrow, front-runner drag wheels
- Hydraulic floor jack with carrying bag
- Cordless impact wrench with charger
- Torque wrench with extension and socket
- Tire pressure gauge
- Fender cover
- Tool bag
- Foam case that fits into the SRT Demon trunk and securely holds the front runner wheels and track tools
The 2018 Dodge Challenger SRT Demon will be available in 14 exterior colors, with a choice of cloth or Laguna leather interior, when it begins production later this year at the company’s Brampton, Ontario assembly plant. Just 3,000 Demons will be built for the U.S. (and another 300 for Canada). Deliveries begin this fall.