The Hellcat’s existence shows that manufacturers are still willing to go the big-power route without having to resort to any sort of hybrid powertrain.
Big displacement, a little forced induction, and Bob’s your uncle.
It also means that there is not just big, but massive power to be had without requiring a massive budget.
The engine’s a little smaller, but…
Power for the Hellcat (all 707 hp, 650 lb.-ft. of it) comes in the form of a 6.2-litre, supercharged V8 as opposed to last year’s top-spec Challenger which made do with a 6.4 litre, naturally aspirated V8.
Then again, if you take the massive literage of the twin-screw IHI supercharger into consideration (that’s 2.38L, if you’re asking), then there’s plenty of kit filling up the engine bay of the Hellcat.
The 6.4L engine does returns to the line-up as an option but with 15 more hp (485) and 475 lb.-ft., as does the 3.6L Pentastar V6 (305 hp, 268 lb.-ft.) and 5.7L HEMI V8 (327 hp, 400 lb.-ft.).
In a neat twist, every Hellcat sells with two keys—a red and a black; Ford uses a similar system with their Mustang Boss 302, but it’s not included in the selling price.
If you want the full 707 hp slug of power from your Hellcat, then you’ll need to have the red key on your person. The black key limits things to 500 hp, and is perfect for using as your valet key or if a family member wants a go, or for whomever else 707 hp may just be a little too much.
Forget the the Shelby Mustang, Corvette Stingray or Camaro Z/28 as competition for the Hellcat. There’s more power here than a Ferrari F12 Berlinetta (before the LaFerrari appeared, that was the most powerful road car Ferrari had ever sold), the McLaren MP4-12C or the Porsche 911 Turbo.
And you can get it all for a starting Canadian MSRP of $63,995.
Want more classic Challenger?
It all looks smashing, too. Sharp-eyed readers will see that 2015 marks the triumphant return of the Hemi Orange cam covers, the Hellcat logo looks smashing and the secondary air intake that occupies the near right corner is imposing.
That inner driver-side headlight? Well, it’s not a headlight at all—it’s the opening to that air box. You’ll have to look pretty closely, though; Dodge has kept the indicator ring around the intake to better blend it with the rest of the front fascia.
Other additions include a new, more aerodynamic front end (Hellcat models get even wider and lower air intakes), functional rear spoiler and split taillights. That last detail is gorgeous, with the brake lights creating a sci-fi look when illuminated.
SRT models—there are two: the 392 and Hellcat—get aluminum power bulge hoods with cold air intakes reminiscent of the ’96 Viper.
All of this serves to better represent the more skin-and-bones look of the classic ’71 Challenger.
We’ll give you more Classic Challenger
The theme continues inside. The new analogue gauge cluster, for example, provides some very 1970s fonts. A seven-inch screen can be found between the two where all your infotainment and navigation needs are displayed. You can even get white leather seats, just like you could on the ’71.
Between the gauges is also where you’ll find the Dodge and SRT Performance Pages (displays for your g-meter, acceleration times, launch control and more) that come as standard on the Scat Pack and both SRT models. You can also get the performance pages as options on the SXT, SXT-plus and R/T trims.
Bigger wheels, performance tires, sport-tuned suspension and steering and perfromance brakes also come as part of the Super Track Pack, which can be had all the way down at base SXT levels. It’s an answer to Ford having their own track-specific pack available for the current V6 Mustang. That’s how serious Dodge is about the performance creds of this car.
I am a little curious, however, as to why, with all this talk of adding more classic touches, they decided to get rid of the pistol grip shifter from the previous models. Dodge says that’s what customers want, but when, by Dodge’s own admission, nostalgia is such a big part of the Challenger buyer’s psyche, it seems backwards.
Of course, those who want more nostalgia will be happy to know that all manner of paintjobs remain; you want the whole world to know you’re driving a Challenger R/T? Fine. Have them stick the letters right there on the rear flanks. The Scat Pack? Nice big badges on the fenders. And of course, the big Shaker hood option remains for the R/T and Scat Pack trims.
“We want to make sure we offer a wide enough variety when people shop for their car,” said Jason Francis, Chrysler Canada Head of Product Strategy.
Rubber to the road
We were given the opportunity to put the whole line-up through its paces on both road and track, with a little drag strip action thrown in for good measure.
The Hellcat is spectacular when pushed.
The supercharger whine is intoxicating—there are few other sounds that really demonstrate just how ground-thumpingly powerful a car is. It is loud and proud, which is probably how Challenger people want it.
Give it enough room, and the Hellcat will storm from 0-60 miles-per-hour in fewer than four seconds (thank you, launch control), and keep going all the way to almost 200. Again, those are not normal muscle car figures; those are supercar figures.
You’ll be glad Dodge makes such great seats, because you will be pushed quite firmly into the backrest if you give it full beans. When it comes time to halt the proceedings, massive 15.4-inch front brake rotors with six-piston Brembo calipers are on-hand, helping make the car feel lighter than its 2,018 kilo curb weight (with a manual transmission).
Out on the open road, things are a little different; both the R/T and the SRT 392 are much happier out here. The steering is a little lighter, the clutch take-up as well (the Hellcat uses a special ZF twin-disc clutch) and they’re just a little quieter and more friendly. The 3.6L engine, which now gets the company’s eight-speed auto, is a further push to the Challenger being an everyday steed.
The R/T has been the hot seller in the past, will likely continue to do so, and it’s probably the one I’d have. For your $36,995, you get big, usable V8 power in a somewhat softer package. If you want to firm things up a little, you can always opt for the Super Track Pack.
Of course, considering the horsepower that runs through the veins of many a muscle car person, that Hellcat—even the $45,998 392 Scat Pack Shaker—is incredibly tempting, especially, in the Hellcat’s case, if you want a car destined to reach classic collector status.