Jan
28
2015 Hellcat

2015 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat

By Don Sikora II

Collectible Automobile

Note: The following story was excerpted from the February 2015 edition of Collectible Automobile magazine.

Since the modern-day Dodge Challenger arrived for the 2008 model year, an SRT model with a naturally aspirated V-8 has stood atop the lineup. Even for the updated 2015 models, such an SRT 392 model continues with a 6.4-liter Hemi newly upgraded to 485 bhp. 

The thing is, the 392 isn’t the ultimate ’15 Challenger. That title goes to the SRT Hellcat, a complete monster that’s arguably defined by one thing—a 707-bhp supercharged 6.2-liter Hemi V-8. Today’s mightiest Chevrolet Camaro, the supercharged ZL1, is rated at “only” 580 ponies. The 2014 Shelby GT500 Mustang was rated at 662. Even Dodge’s 640-horsepower SRT Viper sports car is upstaged.

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Dodge says Hellcat is the most powerful muscle car ever. It’s one of the most powerful cars sold in the U.S. If you need more power, you have to shop a very select group including the Ferrari F12 (730 bhp) and the gas-electric-hybrid Porsche 918 Spyder (887 bhp). 

Hellcats don’t look all that different than other SRT Challengers. There is a unique grille that does not share the other models’ new split-grille theme inspired by the 1971 Challenger. Hellcats also boast an aluminum hood with a pair of air-extractor vents flanking the central scoop, a specific front fascia with splitter, larger rear spoiler, and “Supercharged” badges on the front fenders. Interior tweaks include red gauge lighting and engine-turned aluminum trim.

The supercharged Hemi is related to the 392’s unblown 6.4-liter mill, but Dodge says the engines actually share fewer than 10 percent of their parts. Hellcat upgrades include a specific cast-iron block, forged-steel crankshaft, forged-alloy pistons, forged powdered-metal connecting rods, and specific alloy heads.

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The twin-screw supercharger gulps air from a port integrated into the driver’s side inboard “headlamp.” Other enhancements are an upgraded fuel pump, .5-inch diameter fuel lines, high-capacity engine-oil cooler, and two intercoolers to help control intake-air temperatures.

A six-speed manual transmission with an external oil cooler and a heavy-duty clutch is standard. A new heavy-duty eight-speed TorqueFlite automatic is optional. It comes with steering-wheel-mounted shift paddles.

Chassis upgrades extend to the driveshaft, rear axle, and half shafts. Bearings and rear-axle gears are also upgraded to handle the Hellcat’s fury. Up front there are new 15.4-inch Brembo-brand brake rotors with six-piston calipers. Hellcats ride on 9.5-inch-wide 20-inch wheels wrapped in speed-rated Pirelli tires.

Driver-selected “Drive Modes”—Default, Sport, and Track—control engine power, traction control, automatic-transmission shift speed, and suspension stiffness. Enthusiasts can mix characteristics from the modes via a Custom setting. There is also a Launch Control feature to help get all 707 ponies to the ground as efficiently as possible.

Hellcats come with two keys. The red one accesses the car’s full performance potential. A black key limits engine output to around 500 bhp. A Valet setting further restricts performance.

Muscle cars—especially ones with 707 bhp—and the drag strip are made for each other. Hellcat can lay down a National Hot Rod Association-certified quarter-mile run of 11.2 seconds on the stock street tires or 10.8 seconds with drag radials. Motor Trend reports a 0-60-mph time of 3.7 seconds with the automatic and a second-gear start.

This gloriously ridiculous machine starts at $59,995. The handful of options includes the automatic, upgraded leather upholstery, red seat belts, navigation, and a flat-black hood. 

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