The SRT brand has a real winner with the Charger Super Bee. It's about $4300 cheaper than a regular SRT8 Charger, and the cost savings doesn't remove any of the go-fast (or stop-well) parts. In no way does the Super Bee feel cheap or decontented unless you happen to require a navigation system.
Stupid-fast sedans are always fun to drive, and the Charger SRT8 is no exception. The current generation feels much more composed and willing to change direction than the original and it doesn't give up any of the "let's do a massive burnout" attitude either. I thoroughly enjoy the Charger, and SRT builds the ultimate interpretation of this classic American sedan. It would be easy to poke fun at the portly curb weight and dismal fuel economy, but that's missing the point of this car entirely. 470 normally aspirated horsepower and rear-wheel drive are all this car needs to succeed.
Phil Floraday, Senior Web Editor
A slushy drive home left an ear-to-ear smile plastered on my face, as the prodigious power that the Super Bee has on tap meant that the tail end happily -- and predictably -- squiggled out of line. Although this is only a limited edition, it would behoove Dodge to continue to offer the Super Bee package as a cheaper way to get into the top-level SRT8 Charger. It forgoes the luxury touches like xenon headlights, leather seats, a heated steering wheel, and a navigation system to bring the price tag closer to $40,000 than $50,000 without sacrificing any of the all-important go-fast bits or the hot, sexy, awesome LED racetrack taillights. My only complaint? The V-8 was too muffled unless under full throttle, and there isn't enough cackling exhaust overrun on downshifts for a car as devilishly fun and powerful as this one.
Donny Nordlicht, Associate Web Editor
I find these attempts to re-create forty-year-old trim packages and liveries to be tedious, cynical, and disheartening. I'm just not a fan. Dodge needs to do something cool for the modern era, not dredge up trim packages from the Nixon years. That said, if this is your thing, you'll love it. There's a great set of wheels and tires, lots of power under the hood, and plenty of visual presence. Enjoy.
Joe DeMatio, Deputy Editor
But Joe, this isn't just a retro flashback. Unlike most other tape/stripe packages, the Super Bee isn't an attempt to bilk more money from customers suffering from severe nostalgia pangs. It's no more expensive than a standard Charger SRT8 -- in fact, it's about $4000 less.
Yeah, I get it; we've heard the merits of a budget muscle car since the days of the Plymouth Road Runner. Unlike other attempts at decontenting a car in the name of lowering the sticker price, the Super Bee doesn't feel that worse for its missing parts. I was on the press launch for the 2012 SRT line (sans this model), and apart from the cloth seating and the lack of a "sport" mode button on the (smaller) touch screen interface, I hadn't the slightest notion that this is the "stripper" SRT8.
As Phil noted, the important performance hardware is left intact. The 6.4-liter is capable of hitting ludicrous speeds in no time and makes a delicious noise (and drinks quite a bit of fuel) while doing so. The five-speed automatic shifts fairly quickly in manual mode, but you'll have to forgive it the occasional brutal gear change, especially if you have the go pedal buried in the carpet. The big Brembo disc brakes do an equally impressive job of scrubbing off speed in a hurry. The only thing missing are those nifty adaptive Bilstein dampers used on other SRT models -- although, truth be told, the Super Bee's tuning strikes a pretty decent chord between the adaptive dampers' "sport" and "auto" settings.
All in all, it's a neat exercise, especially to the budget-minded muscle machine enthusiast -- but I do find it a curious introduction, especially considering SRT brand CEO Ralph Gilles has been pushing hard as of late to move his nameplate further upscale. Will a less expensive variant of the Charger SRT8 -- even one as raucous and amusing as this -- continue to have a place within SRT's future portfolio? I hope so. It gives owners a little extra cash to perhaps modify their rides, potentially allowing them to install that throaty exhaust system Nordlicht so desires...
Evan McCausland, Associate Web Editor
I absolutely loved the Dodge Charger SRT8 we had last summer, so I was thrilled to get a chance to drive this Charger Super Bee -- it's essentially an SRT8 with a few gimmicky retro touches, for a $4000 discount. As in last summer's SRT8, the Hemi V-8 provides monstrous acceleration, while the brakes prove remarkably adept at halting the heavy Charger. This car is seriously fun! Sadly, those twenty-inch Goodyear Eagle RS-A tires that proved so grippy in the summer don't really work in 35-degree weather. The Super Bee will break its rear tires loose at 40 mph, and in cold weather you will become intimately acquainted with the flashing ESP warning light. Bottom line: be judicious with the throttle in January.
As much as I like the idea of a cut-price Charger SRT8, the Super Bee doesn't really do it for me. The animated bee in the instrument cluster display, the embroidered seats, and the decal package all strike me as cheesy and trite. Worse still, the Super Bee lacks features from the SRT8 like bolstered and heated leather seats, a backup camera, adaptive rear suspension, and so on. Yes, the Charger Super Bee is the cheapest way to get a 470-hp Dodge sedan, but I think it's worth spending the extra coin on the real, better-equipped SRT8 model. Either way, I'd still vote for a more aggressive exhaust and intake: the Charger is far too quiet for a muscle car, even when you're barreling along at full throttle.
Jake Holmes, Associate Web Editor
As a retro/nostalgia special, the Super Bee doesn't do much for me. But as a more affordable way to own 470 rear-tire-shredding horsepower, I find it pretty rad. As scientific proof of its radness, the Charger Super Bee totally dominates the inconsequential automotive metric of dollars-per-horsepower. Chevrolet charges $117 per hp for a base Corvette. A BMW M3 will set you back $150 for each of its 414 hp. A Nissan GT-R is $180 per hp. Oh, but you're a more practical person, you say? You're still getting screwed. It'll cost you $117 for each of the 120 furious ponies on tap in a Ford Fiesta. With that in mind, consider the Super Bee's positively Walmart-like unit price of $90 per hp.
Of course, you also get a lot of car for the money, in the more traditional, dimensional sense. This car is far too large and heavy for the SRT's magic to create a nimble, responsive sport sedan like the Germans regularly churn out. For SRT to "do something cool for the modern era," as Joe DeMatio suggests, would mean starting with a different car altogether. Fortunately, with the Dodge Dart on the way, SRT has just that opportunity.
Eric Tingwall, Senior Editor
I applaud the folks at SRT for offering a cut-price Charger that doesn't feel cut-rate. I'm sure they'll have no problem selling the 1000 units they plan to build. I'm skeptical that a $4000 savings makes much of a difference for people who can afford a muscle car with a 14/23 mpg EPA city/highway drinking habit, but it's still a nice option to have.
This Mopar fan is happy that the car continues Chrysler's recent judicious use of the classic Super Bee name. However, I liked the car most in the dark, because all that yellow is pretty obnoxious. (The Super Bee is also offered in black, which I find much more appealing. Half of the production run will be black, the other half yellow.) I do like the Super Bee logo itself, particularly the animated buzzing one that greets you upon startup on the IP screen between the tachometer and the speedometer. That same screen is also home to performance-measuring toys for those late-night drives home on desolate roads. My best 0-to-60-mph time was 4.6 seconds; I also clocked a run at 4.8 seconds and two more at 5.0 seconds (the slowest times were achieved by just matting the throttle from a standstill, with traction control fully on, rather than feathering the gas pedal at the beginning of the sprint). The car sounds awesome when making such blasts, and I don't mind that the exhaust note is on the quiet side, at least when you're cruising through town. Anything to keep the cops from noticing a car like this.
The small-screen radio/HVAC system would take quite a bit of getting used to. It'd be very tempting to spend the few thousand extra dollars to get the bigger screen and heated leather seats, but in all honesty, you might want to store this car during the cold-weather months anyway.
Rusty Blackwell, Copy Editor
I'm with Joe DeMatio, in that this car just doesn't do anything for me. Clearly, Chrysler doesn't (and probably shouldn't) care about that, because as a middle-aged woman I'm most certainly not part of the target demographic. The look-at-me styling, the muscle-car persona, and the Hemi V-8, which all appeal to my twenty- and thirty-something male colleagues, are not at all in my wheelhouse. I can appreciate Chrysler's attempt to sell a limited edition version of its full-size sedan that has the added benefit of giving its buyers an SRT8 for less money, but the fact remains that, when I walked out to the parking lot to get behind the wheel of the bright yellow Super Bee, I was happy that I would be driving home under cover of darkness.
Amy Skogstrom, Managing Editor