By Don Sikora II
Note: The following story was excerpted from the February 2016 issue of Collectible Automobile magazine.
It’s pretty safe to say that Dodge’s 707-bhp supercharged “Hellcat” Hemi V-8 generated considerable excitement when it was introduced in the 2015 Challenger SRT Hellcat. While the two-door came first and dominated the headlines, remember Dodge soon after plopped those 707 ponies into the Challenger’s slightly larger four-door sibling to create the Charger SRT Hellcat. Could collectors find the more-door Hellcat the more desirable of the two?
Like the Challenger Hellcat that we covered in this space a year ago, the Char-ger Hellcat’s defining feature is its supercharged 6.2-liter Hemi with the afore-mentioned 707 ponies and 650 pound-feet of torque. It is mated to the TorqueFlite eight-speed automatic transmission; the supercharged Challenger’s available six-speed manual wasn’t offered.
The Charger Hellcat’s rear-drive chassis also benefited from the Challenger’s upgrades including huge Brembo-brand brakes, a beefed-up rear axle with a limited-slip differential, and 275/40ZR20 Pirelli P-Zero rubber on nine-inch-wide wheels. The Charger’s suspension tuning deviated a bit though, and used specific front spring rates and adaptive shock absorbers that were said to offer improved ride comfort.
Exterior styling was nearly identical to the updated look used on the naturally aspirated 2015 Charger SRT 392 model, and incorporated specific front and rear fascias, along with a rear spoiler. The Hellcat added a unique aluminum hood with a pair of air-extractor vents and a cold-air scoop. Small Hellcat logos appeared on the front fenders. Interior tweaks included a flat-bottomed steering wheel and dark-colored aluminum accent trim.
Dodge claimed a top speed of 204 mph and a quarter-mile time of 11 seconds on the stock Pirellis, and boasted it was the quickest, fastest, most powerful sedan in the world. In Motor Trend testing, a Charger SRT Hellcat ran 0-60 mph in 3.7 seconds, while the quarter-mile dash took 11.8 seconds at 124.3 mph. The magazine said that despite weighing 113 pounds more than its Challenger tester, the Charger posted an identical 0-60 time and was actually .10 of a second quicker and 1.1 mph faster through the quarter. MT found that while the Audi RS7 and Tesla Model S P85D (both technically hatchbacks) were quicker 0-60 and in the quarter than the Dodge, neither could match the Dodge’s trap speed at the strip or its top speed.
The ’15 Charger SRT Hellcat priced from $64,990 including a $1700 gas-guzzler tax and destination. The car’s main problem was that it proved to be in extremely short supply.
In July, Dodge announced that any outstanding orders for 2015-model Hellcats that had not been scheduled for production would be cancelled. Customers with verified but unfulfilled orders would be offered discounted pricing if they re-ordered a 2016. In addition, the production process was streamlined, so Dodge would be able to more than double Hellcat output. Finally, dealer-ordering protocols were tweaked to avoid selling cars that couldn’t be delivered.
Dodge hadn’t released production numbers for the 2015 Hellcats as of this writing, but an August 18, 2015, Detroit News story reported that Dodge and SRT President and CEO Tim Kuniskis said about 4500 Hellcats had been sold through early August, and that they were mainly Challengers.
The little-changed 2016 Charger SRT Hellcat adds Laguna leather interior appointments and a navigation system as standard. Plum Crazy paint is a new choice, but as a limited-production color only available for the first few months of the model year. The base price increases to $68,640, a $3650 jump.
• The Charger SRT Hellcat maintains virtually all of the Challenger’s strengths, while adding some desirable traits of its own including four-door practicality and handsome, aggressive styling.
• Charger Hellcat’s acceleration numbers largely match—or modestly beat—those of the Challenger.
• Did we mention it has 707 horsepower?
• So far, any Hellcat, and particularly the Charger, hasn’t been easy to buy. Hopefully Dodge will improve supply in 2016.
• Some enthusiasts may be disappointed that the Charger Hellcat is only offered with
an automatic transmission.
• Be sure to budget for frequent gas-station and tire-store visits.
We still think any Hellcat will prove collectible. The Charger version might be the all-around best variant though, and if production numbers remain tilted toward the Challenger, more desirable over the long haul.