First Drive: Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat
Of all the vehicles at RMDE 2016, the Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat always turned the most heads. True, the stunning Acura NSX was the only supercar in attendance, but the Hellcat telegraphed it’s arrival with a rumbling, raspy entourage of sound generated by its mammoth 707-hp, 6.2 liter supercharged V8. Like the booming, unforgettable Imperial March that heralds Darth Vader’s arrival in the Star Wars films, the Challenger is always cloaked in a shell of aural intimidation that is impossible not to notice. But don’t take my word for it, listen for yourself: See below for an FCA-supplied Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat exhaust note ringtone…
…and here’s a short video clip of the Challenger Hellcat at idle, sounding like it wants to feast on the hopes and dreams of lesser vehicles.
Driving the Hellcat is an exercise in glorious excess: You can feel the rumbling engine and exhaust at idle through the driver’s seat, and even the slightest jab of the throttle turns that rumble into a loud snarl. Accelerating to highway speed in a Hellcat is always an enjoyable affair: Punch the throttle hard at any speed, and the Challenger eagerly wants to spin the back wheels in nearly every gear. I test drove this particular Challenger twice over a two-day period, with a grand total of about 60 minutes of driving time.
I also drove the Hellcat within 24 hours of both a Ford Mustang GT and a Chevrolet Camaro SS, and while astute readers will rightly argue that the new Ford Mustang Shelby GT350 and the Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 would be more comparable vehicles, the Hellcat exudes an over-the-top, “I am muscle car, hear me roar” demeanor that I doubt either the Shelby or the ZL1 could match. The new Shelby and ZL1 may have better handling and overall agility, but the Hellcat is arguably a better cruiser and has style (and curb appeal) in spades.