Thursday, August 14, 2014


The 485 horsepower Challenger SRT 392 is insane. The 580 horsepower Camaro ZL1 is insane. The Hellcat goes about warp speed zones , blowing past crazy, stupid and mind-bending along the way. I don't think humankind has yet invented a word that can describe the like heavymetal band rolling or motorcyle on high way thundering ride.

How fast is the Hellcat? No one really knows, because getting 707 horsepower to the ground is virtually impossible, at least on street tires. Think of that slab of plastic on the floor not as an accelerator pedal, but as a tire-destroying pedal, because flooring the Challenger from a stop does little more than turn rubber to smoke. Extracting Chrysler's promised 3.5 second 0-60 time requires not flooring the pedal, at least not too quickly. The good news is that the Challenger Hellcat driver need never floor the pedal, because even at half-throttle, this car will blow the doors off just about anything else on the road.

Let's talk about what makes the Hellcat the Hellcat. I'm sure most of us remember when Dodge introduced the first Challenger SRT8 with a 425 horsepower 6.1 liter V8, then bumped it up to 6.4 liters and 470 hp. For 2015, that particular engine (now called the SRT 392, for its displacement in cubic inches) gets a bump to 485 hp. Just to put things in perspective, that's enough for a 0-60 time of 4.1 seconds, faster than a Posche 911 Carrera.

The Hellcat's motor is based on the same iron-block Apache engine found in the SRT 392, though the two share few common parts. It's been destroked for a slightly-smaller displacement of 6.2 liters (370 cubic inches). Up top sits a supercharger which can deliver 11.6 pounds of boost. (A supercharger is an engine-driven blower that pumps more air into an engine than it could "breathe" on its own, allowing the engine to produce more power. It performs the same function as a turbocharger, but is driven by the crankshaft (usually througha belt) rather than the exhaust. The supercharger requires significant drive power from the engine, making it less efficient than a turbo, but its superior low-RPM power boost is more in keeping with the muscle car experience.)

Total output is 707 horsepower and 650 lb-ft of torque, delivered to the rear wheels via either a six-speed manual transmission (a beefed-up version of the Viper transmission -- can you imagine the Viper transmission having to be beefed up for anything?) or a strengthened version of the 8-speed automatic found in other Challengers.

The Hellcat shares its four-wheel independent suspension with the SRT392, though the Hellcat gets thicker stabilizer bars. The brakes are, as you would hope, massive: 15.4 inch rotors up front and 13.8 out back, the former clamped by Brembo six-piston calipers and the latter by four-piston calipers. (To compare, most cars do just fine with a single-piston setup.)In order to keep things sane, the Challenger comes with two keys, a black key that limits power output to 500 hp and a red key that let's all seven hundred out of the stable. There's also a combo-lock valet mode that limits engine output even further. As with other Challengers, the SRT Hellcat comes with four drive modes (Default, Sport, Track and user-programmable Custom), which fine-tune power output, traction, exhaust noise and stability control systems (though not steering; unlike other Challenger models, which get electric power steering, the Hellcat's steering is engine-driven hydraulic. As a result it feels significantly lighter than other Challengers and a bit more precise, though still lacking in feedback.)

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