2015 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat Review

The muscle car lives. Not a tamped down, lawyer-codified, low-fat, soy-milk version either. The 2015 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat is an honest-to-god, batten-down-the-hatches, hide-your-daughters-and-your-livestock muscle car.

The Hellcat is the real deal.

The red and the black

At the launch of the 2015 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat last week in Portland, Oregon, a Dodge rep handed me the red Hellcat fob like it was a piece of highly illicit contraband. The other fob, the black one, limits the car to "only" 500 hp. The crimson number gives you all 707 horsepower and 650 pound-feet of torque from the supercharged 6.2-liter Hemi Hellcat engine.

There were only two Hellcats available for street drives. "Go," the company conspirator mouthed. "Just go." And we did, slipping away from the rest of the journalists and the large collection of very nice, less-than-707-horsepower Challenger models.

Good god, but what do you hope for when you hear of a heritage-oriented car this potent? You fully expect that you'll tear off all the tread on the Pirelli PZero tires, but do you really care how elegantly it takes a corner? Or maybe you would prefer it to be a modern interpretation of muscle, with calibrated electronic aids that make you both quicker and safer?

To hell with that. I want fury. I want a 1970s throwback, when power wasn't safe and you took responsibility for it. But in our recall-crazy world, they don't make cars like that anymore.

Except once in an era when they do. When the corporate world throws you something this batty and unexpected and downright malevolent. All hail Dodge for suddenly breaking into the conversation. The car starts at $60,990, including the $2100 gas guzzler tax and $995 destination charge. A Ferrari F12 Berlinetta has only 24 hp on the Challenger -- and costs about $258,000 more.

Smoke 'em if you got 'em

It takes 20 minutes in our Billet Silver baddie to get out of Portland, exit the freeway and get to the twisty roads. The moment I see a clear path I squash the accelerator. I've got just a few degrees of steering dialed in. The car surges ahead and then begins twisting off its forward-moving axis.

Yep, we're sideways.

Smoke pours off rear wheels. I'm already laughing -- nervously, manically -- even as I'm sawing the wheel to make the correction. I am in sport mode. I have not turned off the ESC. When's the last time you took a car's sport mode seriously? The Dodge engineers did. (There is a race mode as well. I would not use it on a public road -- ever.)

I was worried that the tremendous power and torque would be denuded, sapped of potential by an electronic stability control program locked down tighter than a Federal Supermax prison. I was wrong. Dead wrong.

The madness is reinforced when I stop in the road. The car has a ball-shifter-topped six-speed manual that came out of the Viper. (It needed additional reinforcing.) I put it in first, pop the clutch and hit the gas.

The 2015 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat does a full-on burnout, body bucking, hood shuddering. No need to stand on the brake or mess with the stability control. A Challenger R/T that is following behind us eventually appears in my rear view mirror and is just as quickly obscured by the cloud of smoke. Sorry, guys. But not really, actually. That was awesome.

A turn for the better

We quickly deviate from Dodge's planned route, heading up a mountain road instead. This is our first inclination just how well the car actually corners. We barrel along a set of uphill sweepers, and the car follows the arcing line capably, the wide track (63.4 inches) and long wheelbase (116.2 inches) making it feel quite stable. There's plenty of traction from the tires as long as you're judicious with the gas. The car leans heavily as we enter turns, but it's not sloppy. More remarkably, the 2015 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat doesn't duck under heavily braking or squat under big power. That lack of front-to-back movement makes a big difference in the overall sense of control.

But yeah, man, it drives like a muscle car. It's heavy and it swings through corners with the leading edge of the bulging hood leaning low. Forget delicate work: That would be like whittling with a pole axe.

The Challenger is massive. The sides alone use more sheet metal than you'd find in the entirety of many economy cars. Few cars so clearly call to Detroit's glory days: It makes you want to grow a 'stache and sideburns and act out classic car chases from the 1970s TV show, The Rockford Files.

This generation has a hood brow that's pulled even further down, with no fog lamps or overt badging of its prowess except for the "supercharged" script on the side fenders. (All the functional hood scoops and extractors on the hood would give some indication to even a blind man.)

What the numbers reveal

Some statistics to put the Hellcat in perspective. According to Dodge, at full throttle it would empty its 18.5-gallon tank in 15 minutes. We saw an average of 8.8 miles-per-gallon in our (highly spirited) street drive. Those Pirelli tires, so fun to torch, are $300 each. Dodge's claimed quarter-mile time of 11.2 seconds seem totally on point (we hit the drag strip ourselves). The eight-speed automatic allows launch control, and we expect that the official 0-to-60 mph times will dip well below four-second mark. Dodge says the top speed is 199 mph and is not electronically limited. All of which leads us to recommend engaging the "valet mode" -- which limits starts to second gear and rpm to 4000 -- whenever you leave the car with somebody else, including your buddies who "just want to run out to the store."

And it's loud. It uses an electronic exhaust system that opens and closes flaps according to the load, which should keep you from getting kicked out of your neighborhood association. But stand on it and the Hellcat makes noises probably not heard since the Cretaceous Period. The noise of the supercharger is only one plane of the thick wall of sound. Oddly, however, there is a lot of sound deadening inside. So roll the windows down.

Dodge had enough confidence in the car's handling ability that they sent us to Portland International Raceway, a flat and not particularly difficult road course. Still, there were a couple of close walls that could have mangled the really nicely painted surfaces of the Challenger, particularly when you flat-footed it through the long straights.

Did the SRT acquit itself? Yes. Or at least, as much as we'd really want it to. The Brembo brakes are hugely capable and the electronic steering is accurate and has at least some feel.

Under the bleachers

But you know what the Hellcat is not? A Camaro Z/28.

If the two were high-school girls, they wouldn't even be in the same clique. The Z/28 would be the girl from the wrong side of the tracks who's pulled herself up by the bootstraps and is taking AP Calculus. The Hellcat would the leggy floozy, shamelessly hanging out under the bleachers and making fun of the Z/28. It only wants to be one thing, and that's an unrepentant muscle car.

You simply won't find a new car with more personality. When it comes to the modern muscle-car wars, the Challenger has long been passed over in the conversation. Suddenly, it is the conversation.

2015 Dodge Challenger Hellcat Specifications

Base Price $60,990
Price as tested $65,365
Engine 6.2L supercharged V-8
Horsepower 707 hp
Torque 650 lb-ft
Transmissions 6-speed manual, 8-speed automatic
Drive Rear-wheel
Quarter-mile time (mfr. est.) 11.2 seconds at 125 mph
autocartechno.com
2015 Dodge Charger RT Specs Supercharged - Presented for the 1966 model year, the 2015 Dodge Charger developed from a two-entryway fastback variant of the Coronet into an undeniable muscle auto in the early 1970s. autocartechno.com
Aaavala
This car should not be compared to the Zl1 or the Z28. More or less to the Gt500, another car with some narrow a$$ rubber in the back. 
btw. the z28 will look like a very bad idea by the time you sink the difference in price on a Zl1. I like how chevy has come up with a car with "less" stuff to save weight and up charge you like 20k for it. nice
This car looks good on paper, well at least the engine numbers do. Will see how it does in the real world. The Challenger aftermarket support has been having a hell of a time trying to crack the tuning since like 11 or 12" model years. What you read in a magazine article and what happens on the street are two very, shall we say "different" results. So good luck to you future owners of the hellcat, coming from a ZL1 owner. LET THE GAMES BEGIN well in a straight line at least. :)

misterincredibleme
Yasss! Hellcat!
JRW
The "Under the Bleachers" comment is the funniest I have read in years.  Love it or hate it, it is just great the Government hasn't been able to really wreck the car biz by forcing them to only make in line 4 cyl cars (yet?) 
djetzel1940
I think it is a little too much...too late and totally impractical. Any Chrysler product I ever owned never had a lot of finesse. My pride and joy was a beautiful brand new  red 1968 Dodge Charger 440 cid with black vinyl top, black leather interior with the black RT stripe over the trunk. I recall paying about 5K for it.
the_roadrunner
The most clever thing Dodge did was NOT make this car much different looking from a run of the mill Challenger.  That way even the lowly V6 Challenger will have to be treated with respect by stoplight dragsters on the remote possibility that it could be a Hellcat.
R13
Wow!!  I like this car.  IMHO, doesn't matter what kind of cars you like or drive (except for that S dude - lol), this is one powerful badass modern-day American muscle car. I think it's great.  And somebody below said it exactly right.  Most who buy this car won't drive it daily and it will sit in a garage until the owner wants to feel a little Hellcat fury on a sunny day.  And I did grow up in the 60s/70s muscle car era.  My pals all had faster cars, but I liked my 65 Falcon Sprint with a 289 and a 4-speed.  Today I still own a '68 Dodge Coronet R/T, 440 Magnum (375HP) and Hurst 4-speed.  And a late model Camaro SS 1LE and a '97 TransAm.  None are daily drivers for me.  And this Challenger will stomp anything I own, or have owned, particularly in a straight line AND will definitely get better gas mileage (if you even care and those buying this surely won't) than my '68.  I liked the author's comparison that it isn't a new Z28, which I also like a lot.  But this is definitely not going back to the dinosaur era.  Bravo Chrysler.  American muscle be it Ford, Chevy or Dodge is still a great thing.  Just saying.          
Nitesh Vasani
Just amazing....have a look at the style a perfect Muscle Car...Just Superb...http://www.worldofautomobile.com/torque-converter-and-its-working/http://www.worldofautomobile.com/2016-mazda-2-car-review/

Doug Skipper
I wouldn't have it at no drag strip
Cartop Camper
Ps.  Gas stations needed along that pedal to the metal strip of road in eastern Nevada.
Cartop Camper
Good God!  Hat's off to Chrysler Fiat for having the balls to ram this car into the center of the pony car wars.  Some of us old enough spent our junior high library hours drooling over the old Chilton Service Manual horsepower charts.  Mid 400's was the highest HP numbers I recall.  Now this, a 707 HP bonifide monster for the masses.  Those of us in the west know of a certain eastern Nevada N/S road that's going to be painted with tread marks every 300 feet.  Hooya! Go USA!
Michael Anderson
Hey Sylvain Raymond, they are making a 300+ hp. AWD Dart, that should tick you off nicely lol.
Sam Y
so please explain to me why the viper needs a hand built V10, that costs a small fortune to build, and a large fortune to maintain.  drop this engine in the viper, lower the price by $20k, and watch it take sales away from the vette. 
BlazingC5
How fast does it go in the water?  Inboard or Outboard motors?  Does that boat come with a fish finder?
58FURY
Very well-written article.  Your review is the best I've read -- really captures the character of this car.  Hats off to Dodge for producing such a politically incorrect muscle car.
Rodney Munch
Wow, 700+ hp for 65K?
That's quite impressive.
x-vote.com
Nicht verpassen nächste Woche bei x-vote.com Wie viel #PS muss deine #Karre haben? Wer abstimmt kann ein #iPad mini #gewinnen! Deine Meinung zählt! #xvote
Sylvain Raymond
http://online.wsj.com/mdc/public/page/2_3022-autosales.html
jwoj
The 707 is a very cool car. Hope lots of people buy them. If I was 14 year old, this would leave a permanent imprint on me. That's not a bad thing. Should be the last of the genre, though, and probably for good reason. Nearly 4500 pounds for a performance car was never a good idea. It really is a seriously attractive car, but the scale is so outsized, it makes some minivans and SUVs look small. None of it makes sense ... until it fires up. Then nothing needs to make sense any more. How could you not want one of these!
Dana Lee Thomas
Even when they are ignorant and wrong. I.E Sylvain.
Vinny Aces
This will kick some AMG ass!! American Power!!! About frickin time..,off the stock floor! Oh hellcat!! Kick some Ass! Omg !!
Angel Gerardo Curiel Cordova
Ajaaaa
Jonathan Howell
Not going anywhere fast in that thing. Good luck getting any transaction. Awd or bust!
Jack Geerer
That makes no sense in English, troll.
Jack Geerer
http://www.thedetroitbureau.com/2014/05/fca-outgrows-competition-in-north-america/
Sylvain Raymond
LOL!!! WOW… America, where EVERYone is allowed to voice their opinions… 4SURE!!!
Craig Jackson
If the company was a roaring sucess that would be one thing, but you dont open a second resturant if the food in thr first tastes like crap.
Craig Jackson
I would never have a Chrysler. They are built like chingsy plasticy crap. Instead of developing this, they should be more concerned about developing quality and appeal in the cars that sell in volume. I for one do not support another bailout because of mis management and abuse of our tax dollar.
David Pettit
Why is there smoke from the front wheels?
Jack Geerer
Thanks Gents.
John Vitellaro
Well said. I agree, Jack.
Michael Anderson
Sylvain Raymond, you need to grow up or pull yer head outta of yer ass or something.
Michael Anderson
Jack Geerer, very well said.
José Luis Vargas Aceves
Common sense is stop commenting your ideas here, seriously, what do you want to get?
José Luis Vargas Aceves
Yeah, go like your own retarded comments somewhere else, sylvain, not here please
Tom Champion
Nice.
PSA955
Sylvian Raymond. Go back to Facebook and your Prius, perfect together.
Jeff T Curtis Jr.
Do you pedal a bike everywhere
William Wayne
Sylvain, your comments (and the other randomly disparaging comments) are conspicuously missing from the reviews of the Hellcat's direct competitors - the GT500 and the ZL1.  Why is that?  Why is this specialty, low-volume car such a heinous crime?
There are sensible American vehicles all over this country and this planet.  Your histrionics are tiresome and vastly overstate the impact of this vehicle on the environment and, apparently, on global politics.

From Forbe's article:
"[The Hellcat] meets Federal Tier 2, Bin 5 emissions requirements, meaning it is classified as a LEV II (Low Emissions Vehicle) in California."  It may not be an ULEV like my wife's minivan, but it is a far, far cry from the "40 year old dinosaur" you equate it to.


You are using puerile insults and "Internet yelling" to try to cover up your lack of ability to make a cogent point on this subject, and you look foolish.  You have a strong opinion, but any time you try to explain yourself you go off on all sorts of tangents like a crazy person.  Instead of bowing out of a conversation you are apparently not qualified for, I have this feeling you are going to double-down on stupid.  Care to prove me wrong?
Sylvain Raymond
The HellCat is one more mistake, one more nail in the coffin for the US auto industry… as i told you, I was raised in the PONY-CAR age… that was then, now is a different planet with much more environmental issues… common sense… who is ANGRY here may I ask??? The US car industry was in FreeFall… GM lost 1/2 its market, Ford exists because Germans and Japanese threaten to walk out… Chrysler had to be rescued by the Italian Mafia and FIAT… ENUFF SAID!!!!
Sylvain Raymond
DODGE at 60k… a Challenger replica in 2014… and we are discussing this… 700 Hp… in this actual energy context… someone here is in my nightmare!!!!
Sylvain Raymond
TAKE YOUR HEAD OUT OF YOUR ASSES AND THINK of what you are doing with your moronic cars!!!
Sylvain Raymond
OMG… could it also be Eolian or Sun generated power may be???
the_roadrunner
@Sam Y lower price more like $30K =, but you have the right idea.  This beast of an engine could get the Viper out of its grave.
WN
Obviously you must be comparing chyslers to BMW. As a dedicated Ford fanboy, I test drove a challenger mustang camaro. The only one that didn't feel cheap and chincy was the challenger.
HH60M
"PONY-CAR age"? The mustang came out in 1964, when were you born? Even If you were born in 1964, you wouldn't have been old enough to drive byt he time the pony car wars were over.Stop with the internet troll BS...
WN
Go back to France. These cars are too scary for you apparently.
the_roadrunner
yeah, like Peugeot and Renault are the way forward.  LMAO
Mitchell Stroud
First thing I'll have to do with my Hellcat is search around for a muffler shop to make a catalytic converter bypass pipe, because I'll need to further enrich this atmosphere and pick up a couple of tenths in the quarter mile.
William Wayne
"Do as I say, not as I have done"At this point, I'd be willing to bet that my vehicle is actually smarter than you.

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