Kimatni D. Rawlins
Their story is simple, 100 years of performance from the Dodge brand has led to some of the most exhilarating and influential muscle cars in the history of the automotive world, ultimately manifesting the mighty beast from Detroit which is theatrically known as the Hellcat. The ultimate, top-of-the-line Dodge halo is riveting with its 6.2-liter supercharged HEMI engine (90% new) that concocts an astounding 707-horsepower, 650 lb.-ft. of torque and allows the $63,995 feline monster to accelerate up to 204 mph. Strap in folks because we’re going riding on the Pony Express!
Beloved owners of the 4-door sports sedan know exactly what this car means. Simply put, it’s the boaster vehicle every muscle head would revere if it were parked in their garage. The numbers and data currently rank the Hellcat as the most potent sedan in the industry. Yes, it does beat out the venerable BMW M5 on paper, but let’s not go stir crazy here. Bimmer M tech aficionados and SRT Hellcat adherents are not one in the same. Please keep that in mind.
“For the last eight years, a large part of the Dodge Charger’s successful formula has been its many personalities for a family capable sedan depending on how the customer chooses to equip their car,” said Tim Kuniskis, President and CEO — Dodge and SRT Brands. “Now our 2015 Charger SRT lineup sets its advanced muscle car personality apart by offering unrivaled capabilities in our ultimate performance sedans.”
When I drove the Challenger SRT Hellcat a few months ago in Portland I thought Dodge had reached its boundaries on creative possibilities. But the fact is, the Charger variant is designed to offer owners a 4-door experience with all the bells and whistles. It also doesn’t hurt that your SRT is a weekend warrior on raceways. There is nothing like the adrenaline rush of 11-second quarter mile runs. To experience similar road euphoria Chrysler hosted a group of auto media at Summit Point Motorsports Park in West Virginia to rip the runway and burn up Pirelli P-Zero Y-plus rubber that circumvents the Hellcat’s 20” x 9.5” forged aluminum Slingshot rims in either standard Matte Black or available Brass Monkey/Dark Bronze finishes. The exciting 10-turn, 2.0-mile road course features a 2,900-foot (880 m) main straight. Dodge tuned the Charger Hellcat a bit softer than the Challenger Hellcat but it still performed admirably as evident by my 143 mph burst down the straight. Before entering turn 1 an abundance of braking is required and done so through an upgraded Brembo brake package consisting of huge 15.4” rotors. The two-piece rotor blueprint consists of an aluminum center to reduce weight and cast iron for the remainder. Again, Brembo brings its racing technology to the formula in the form of 6-piston front calipers and 4-piston rear calipers. Staying linear on the power output was key in-between turn 2 and 3. If you stomp the Hellcat’s gas pedal on a circuit you could inevitably lose control. This isn’t child’s play, the SRT Hellcat is adult business!
While revving from a standstill the super cat slightly grumbles, and when you take off it roars like a werewolf indicating what’s to come when supercharged horses are called upon. The vehicle’s unique exhaust is what Dodge is most proud of according to engineers. Wider, dual pipes feature electrical valves to adjust the audio on the “almost” old school system. Steering from the thick, multifunction wheel was a bit lighter than that on the SRT 392 due to the Hellcat’s traditional hydraulic power steering. Whereas the 392 inherits the updated and satisfying Electric Power Steering (EPS) with Normal, Comfort and Sport adjustable drive modes. EPS felt much heavier and appropriate for our runs at Summit Point. Internally, there were engineering discussions regarding EPS on the Hellcat but ultimately the SRT team stuck with the classic feel.
Supplementary performance technology is instilled in the Hellcat by way of the TorqueFlite 8-speed automatic transmission with the aptitude of handling the HEMI’s aggression and also utilizes steering-wheel paddle shifting. For me, there is nothing like downshifting or upshifting an automatic transmission into the gear of choice. And like the Matrix, you can choose the 500-horsepower Black Key or unleash the maximum potential of the 707-horsepower Red Key before driving deep into oblivion. Also fresh to the SRT bundle is Dodge’s Drive Modes, allowing drivers manipulation of the horsepower, transmission shift speeds, paddle shifting, traction control and suspension set-up. SRT configures the algorithms for the perfect equation whether it’s Sport, Track, Default or Eco, but also lets the owner tap into the Custom program to configure their personal preferences. Drive Modes is easily accessed and operated through the SRT & Apps or Performance Pages menu in Uconnect’s 8.4” or 5” touchscreen. It’s like reading from an iPad’s graphic flowchart. Uconnect is rated in our top three for multi-media systems, especially with Wi-Fi for Internet connections. As it relates to our Automotive Rhythms, we prefer the true sound of the upgraded 900-watt, 19-speaker Harman Kardon package since the BeatsAudio system is muffled and weak.
Visually, the Charger SRT is much more sinister than its forebear. Without overwhelming the muscles on the Hellcat’s frame, Dodge made it tighter, sleeker, leaner and athletic with newfangled body panels. Its front fascia of course is pronounced and styled as aggressive as possible. The larger aluminum hood is emphasized with a power-bulge to administer cool-air intake and a set of extractors to pull hot air out of the engine compartment. In addition, the C-pillar was pulled rearward for a coupe-like presence and the sedan’s distinctive backside is topped with a spoiler, full LEDS and wide, 4” dual exhaust tips.
The Hellcat is smarter than we think and is not just muscle and brawn. It deserves credit on the intelligence spectrum as well. For example, a Valet key tones down its power just in case hotel attendants attempt burnouts or go for joy rides. Dodge also enhanced the mighty lion from Zion with Full-speed Forward Collision Warning-Plus, Lane Keep Assist, 9-1-1 call/Assist Call and Adaptive Cruise Control-Plus with Full Stop to bring it to complete stops from under 20 mph.
Are you ready for some action? Commendably, the 2015 Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat incorporates the dopamine rush of 707-horsepower with the respect for safety and the intelligence of luxury vehicles. Well done SRT!