Muscle cars are supposed to be as angry as grizzly bears jabbed with a hot poker and loud enough to cause rockslides. That’s true of the current crop, but there’s a new, bigger beast on the block that’s looking to destroy everything that stands it in its way: the building-flattening Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat, which brings a 6.2-liter supercharged Hemi V8 engine with 707 horsepower into the ring. If the Camaro Z/28 is a sharp-edged sword, the Challenger Hellcat is a warhammer.
Sure the standard 6.4-liter Hemi V8 Challenger is more than sufficient with its booming 485 horsepower, but the outrageous Hellcat uses an IHI Turbo America Supercharger strapped to its 6.2-liter Hemi V8 to move 30,000 liters of air per minute and create power that’ll make its baby brother leak radiator fluid all the way home to mommy. Even the top-end 662-horsepower Ford Mustang GT500 seems a little lacking when compared to Dodge’s angry cruise missile. Hell, the Challenger Hellcat’s far pricier Dodge Viper kin has 62 fewer horses in the stable. In fact, all the Hellcat’s competition is outgunned: it marks the highest output of any American production vehicle in history.
The body of the Challenger Hellcat doesn’t seem much different than the stock Challenger, aside from the Hellcat logo on the front fenders. But Dodge has done their due diligence, having put the Hellcat in the wind tunnel a full 35 percent more than the previous-generation Dodge Challenger SRT in order to maximize its capabilities both on the road and the track. Aerodynamics are improved with a new front splitter, a brand new vertical split grille and a fascia that’s more refined than its predecessors (but still plenty angry). The hood’s power-bulge encases a cold air intake to breathe deep for the supercharger. Those twin air extractors in the hood aren’t just for show, either, since they function to pull heat and air turbulence from the engine compartment. The Hellcat also uses an Air Catcher inlet port, which draws air directly into the engine air box via the parking lamp on the driver’s side. Black sills and a fat lip spoiler accentuate the proportions of the sinewy coupe and have been tuned in the wind tunnel to improve aerodynamics, too. These aren’t just nifty little details…they’re all created to give the Hellcat as much ferocity as possible.
Step inside the beast, and you’ll find an interior that benefits from overall 2015 Challenger improvements in ergonomics, design and material quality; it’s no longer just a pile of grey plastic that you need to ignore in order to enjoy the car. The large instrument binnacle and 7-inch screen are easily visible, the deep seats are supportive and comfortable, and the massive gearshift lever makes you feel potentate strong.
And then there’s the driving experience, which is tantamount to helming a rocket sled without rails. Getting on the gas in the supercharged monster unleashes the force of a bullet train and the wailing of forced induction. It also takes nary an effort to utterly char the rear rubber. Sure, the Hellcat is big, but that just adds to the feeling of utter power. Seven hundred horses and 650 lb-ft of earth-ripping torque will do that.
And yet the car is utterly controllable. You can use it as your daily driver (while thumbing your nose at your fuel budget) since it’s comfortable and driveable — that is, with the black key fob. It comes with two; the valet key, in black, locks out first gear, slots the stability control in full-intervention mode, limits the tach to 4,000 rpm, and disengages the paddle shifters and launch control. It’s the fob you give to your friends who fear death. The ominous red keyfob is the one that unleashes all the forces of Hades. Did we mention that 60 mph arrives in a ridiculous 2.9 seconds?
The Challenger SRT Hellcat is as subtle as Defcon 1. Its brilliance is directly tied to its dollar-per-horsepower value. It’s the one American muscle car that makes us reconsider our desire for refined sports cars, potent cruisers and rugged SUVs — largely because it makes absolutely zero sense.
Engine: 6.2L supercharged HEMI V8
Horsepower: 707 hp
Torque: 645 lb-ft
0-60: 3 seconds
Top Speed: 199 mph
Quarter mile: 10.8 seconds