TO HELL AND BACK
in the Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat
This article is from our archives and has not been updated and integrated with our "new" site yet... Even so, it's still awesome - so keep reading!
Published on Tue, Nov 29, 2016
By: The LACar Editorial Staff
Words and pictures by Harvey Schwartz
Unless you are in the business of turning left corners in the venues named Talladega, and Daytona there is no reason to covet a 707-horsepower, 4,570-pound-feet, four-door sedan. And yet, here it is - Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat. The most powerful animal of its kind on the market, a car in such demand that its manufacturer at one point had to stop taking orders so that the production could catch up with the existing contracts.
The new Hellcat is the quickest and best handling of the litter. Its 6.2 liter supercharged OHV V8 engine, beside developing aforementioned monstrous 707-hp at 6,000 rpm, also produces ground-shaking 650 lb.ft. of torque at 4,800rpm. With a top speed of 204 mph, NHRA-certified ¼ mile elapsed time of eleven seconds, and 3.7 seconds to reach 60 mph from a standstill, premium Laguna leather interior, Uconnect 8.4AN with navigation, HD radio and five years of SiriusXM Travel Link and SiriusXM Traffic cannot hide the fact that the Hellcat is a track-bred beast with 160 milliseconds shifts and rev-matching.
The styling is pure performance with the SRT design teams building upon the Charger’s modern four-door fastback by adding a sinister-looking front fascia, aluminum hood, silhouette and rear fascia and spoiler. Up-front the Hellcat’s large bulging aluminum hood features a dedicated cold-air intake - cue the first Viper built in 1996. The monster must not pant, so dual air extractors ensure removal of heat and reduced air turbulence in the engine bay. The redesigned front bumpers and grille house LED DRLs/HID headlamps while blacked out upper and lower textures re-emphasize the menacing look of the Hellcat – as though this is really necessary. But massive power can easily compromise balance so a front splitter optimizes airflow to the cooling modules and lower side intakes cool down the brakes. Bulging fenders, scalloped doors, flush pull-out door handles, and deep lower aero-styled lower extensions enhance stability and downforce.
On the side of the Hellcat most people will see - the rear - a big deck-lid spoiler is painted in body color with the unique fascia and valence with the 4-inch wide dual exhaust tips. At the sides, the vertical grilles are open to further enhance rear airflow. The bulging fenders are packed with meaty 275/40ZR20 Pirelli P Zero, low-profile, ultra-high-performance tires wrapped around giant 20X9 1/2 inch Slingshot Split 7 spoke forged aluminum with Matte Black painted finish.
Several SRT badges on both sides and the front fenders remind those from within and without what type of monster they are encountering.
All of this massive power and torque is transferred to the rear wheels by way of an electronically-controlled 8HP890 eight-speed automatic transmission controlled by a T-handle stick or paddle shifters. To keep the mood reasonably subdued during the rush hour on the freeway, and behaving in a civilized manner in the Hellcat, requires that all of its massive power and torque can be reconfigured through three available drive modes - Street/Sport/Track - depending on mood and surface conditions.
The settings will reconfigure and set the transmission, paddle shifters, traction control and suspension the last one quickening the gear changes. Should one choose the canyon route, a standard SRT performance-tuned limited slip differential keeps the power down during hard cornering, while the SRT tuned fully independent suspension handles handling. Up front is an SLA setup with high-upper ‘A’ arms, coil springs, dual ball-joint knuckles and sway bar. The monotube shocks are ADS/SRT tuned Bilsteins with the three settings -Street/Sport/Track – corresponding to the driver’s mood described above. Keeping hindquarters in sync with the front is tasked to a five-link, coil springs, stabilizer bar and the same ADS/SRT tuned Bilsteins housed in an isolated suspension cradle for stiffness.
Steering the massive Hellcat is fun and easy thanks to the SRT tuned hydraulic rack & pinion steering system with a SRT Performance gear that is weighty, quick and precise. Stopping two-and-quarter tons of metal, glass, and leather with confidence, however, requires all the strength of the power-assisted ABS/EBD/BA Brembo brakes with six-piston calipers grabbing 15.4 inch slotted/vented rotors up front and four-piston calipers doing the same to the 13.8 inch slotted rotors in the rear. That’s why, despite its mass, the stopping distance is a remarkable 105 feet.
Slide into deeply cut leather/suede front bucket seats with 10-way power adjustable including lumbar support/heating/cooling and you can pretend that, despite its name, the car you are piloting, ahem, driving, is just another daily driver that can be easily handled with confidence. The full-size comfortable cabin with sport and luxury features is dominated by a dotted real aluminum cluster and instrument panel contains the centered 8.4 inch featuring all the information you need: radio/navigation/drive modes/dual zone climate control, remote cap-less fuel filler, remote trunk openers, and radio connectivity with apps.
Other standard features include aluminum foot pedals with rubber inserts, power windows/door locks, heated second-row seats, cruise control, vario-speed wipers/washers, dual cupholders/deep center storage box, and integrated voice command. In addition, the test Hellcat came with the optional preferred package which included a Harmon/Kardon surround sound audio system with nineteen premium speakers and an eight-inch subwoofer, front SRT floor mats and summer tires. As it befits a modern luxury commuter, standard safety features include rear park assist system, rear backup camera, blind spot and cross traffic alert, advance multistage front airbags, supplemental front seat-mounted side airbags, supplemental front/rear side-curtain airbags, three safety belts with front pre-tensioners, easy access doors, sentry key theft deterrent system and front/rear crush zones with steel beams in each door.
But push the red start button and the car named after a feline predator from Hades gives out a mighty growl. The roar then continues through first two gears, lessening slightly as the engine travels up the transmission shifts. The dashboard also contains SRT performance pages which measure 0-60mph time/G-Force/Boost Pressure and oil/transmission temperature. Under your control are timers measuring acceleration from 0-60 mph and 0-100 mph, and quarter mile.
A reminder of the Hellcat’s brawn is evident in a beefy/perforated SRT leather-wrapped power tilt/telescopic/heated steering wheel, a gauge cluster with 7,000 rpm tachometer and a 205 mph speedometer with red background and white numerals that also can be reconfigured within the seven-inch space.
In short, the Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat is the real deal. Quick, powerful, with beautiful handling, and interior that - despite the luxury surroundings - reveals enough sporty cues to keep any super-high-performance enthusiast happy to be behind the wheel.
Zoran Segina contributed to this article.
© Harvey Schwartz
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For more information about Dodge products, go to dodge.com.
THE ESSENTIALS Name of vehicle: Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat Price: $65,945.00 base/$71,230.00 as tested including destination EPA-rated fuel economy: EPA mileage: 13mpg/city, 22mpg/highway EPA size rating (by interior passenger room): Large sedan Engine: 6.2 liter supercharged V8 with port injection Horsepower: 707 at 6000 rpm Torque: 650 pound-feet at 4800 rpm Performance (manufacturer estimates): 0-60 mph: 3.4 seconds Quarter-mile elapsed time: 11.4 at 128 mph