600-plus-hp pony car brings fight back to Ford and GM
Dodge introduced its most powerful Challenger ever on Tuesday. The 600-plus-hp SRT Hellcat will do battle with other super-high-performance pony cars like the Ford Mustang GT500 and Chevy Camaro ZL1. Production is expected to begin this fall.
The 6.2-liter Hellcat engine, part of the Hemi family, features a supercharger and a forged steel crankshaft, forged alloy pistons and heat-treated aluminum-alloy cylinder heads to handle all the power. Chrysler’s TorqueFlite eight-speed automatic is optional; an upgraded six-speed manual is standard. Like a true pony car, power is sent to the rear wheels.
Dodge continues to offer the Challenger SRT 392, which makes 485 hp and 475 lb-ft of torque.
All 2015 Challenger SRTs offer owners four driving modes: default, sport, track and custom. The modes alter horsepower, transmission shift speeds, steering, paddle shifters, traction and suspension. They can be accessed through the Uconnect system.
Like the Mustang Boss 302, the Hellcat comes with two key fobs. The red fob unlocks the full horsepower and torque, while the black fob limits the driver. The SRT and SRT Hellcat also come with valet mode, limiting power even further when unfamiliar drivers are behind the wheel. Valet mode holds revs under 4,000, locks out access to first gear, deactivates manual mode in automatic cars, keeps drive mode in default, disables launch control and keeps ESC on.
The Challenger SRT gets new eight-spoke, hyper-black 20-inch wheels; the Hellcat’s 20s have a dark bronze finish called Brass Monkey.
With 15.4-inch front Brembo rotors, the Hellcat has the largest front-brake package ever offered in an SRT vehicle. The upgraded brakes are an option on the SRT 392.
Dodge says its engineers spent extra time in the wind tunnel refining the new Challenger’s exterior. A new front fascia shares time with a larger “power bulge,” featuring a dedicated cold-air intake. The Hellcat has extra cold-air ducting through the driver-side parking lamp. It also gets a larger front splitter.
Inside, the Challenger has a new instrument panel, a 7-inch driver information display and an analog speedo and tach. A new trapezoidal-shaped center console comes in two finishes: Hectic Mesh for the SRT 392 and Dark Engine Turn for the Hellcat. Automatic-equipped cars have a new T-handle shifter and steering-wheel mounted paddles; six-speeds get a throwback ball shifter.
The Challenger SRT Hellcat slots below the GT500’s 664 hp but above the ZL1’s 580 in the pony-car pantheon. If there were ever any doubts about the horsepower wars continuing, Dodge just smashed them into more than 600 little pieces.