2015 Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat Road Test

2015 Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat

Heaven and Hellcat.

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While the Dodge SRT Hellcat was in the Carpages Garage, we were subjected to a torrent of intense emotion. The sheer joy of leaning into the throttle; the thick fear that followed as we grasped the alarming rate at which the speedometer would climb and the gutting disappointment we felt on the way to return it to Dodge HQ. It caused all who encountered it to behave in similar extremes, but here’s the special part- even those who’d never call themselves car folk gravitated towards it with the same awe and enthusiasm as the diehard gearheads who flocked to it wherever we parked. There’s something very rewarding about watching kids make the transition to new car fanatics, becoming hooked right before our eyes. Then there was my wife, who thought the Hellcat was loud, crude and juvenile. Which instantly sealed its fate as an awesome car by my judgement.

Driving the Hellcat is huge fun, but also uniquely rewarding. Cars like this don’t come around too often, especially so when there’s such emphasis on hyper efficiency and litigiousness in the auto sector.

Let’s sum it up thusly- the Charger Hellcat is the fastest sedan in the world. A Tesla P85D might be a smidge faster to 100km/h, but once the speed really starts piling on the Hellcat leaves it for dead.

PROS:  Astonishing power and speed, exceptional usability, backed by a full factory warranty!

CONS: It’ll tempt you to waive your good judgement in almost any situation, hopelessly under-tired, they don’t build enough of them.

THE VERDICT: Dodge builds the performance bargain of the century and the fastest sedan ever in one fell swoop.

It’s not really a fair shake other supercars when measuring output because anything short of a hyper-exotic cannot touch it. To put the monumental thrust churned out by the Hellcat into context, realize that it makes more power than either a sports car prototype (the ones you see blitzing the Mulsanne Straight at Le Mans at over 320 km/h) or even an IndyCar in full qualifying trim. Makes more torque than either of those, too. Perhaps the biggest achievement isn’t the tire frying power but the fact that its 707 horsepower is meant for street use and schlepping through traffic jams and winter storms. It’s downright fascinating how normal something so focused on sheer speed can be.

Trying to describe what happens when you give the throttle a good prodding will demand that you mine your tattered copy of Thesaurus to come up with unique ways in describing the experience. Ballistic? Urgent? Rabidly rapid? Unfortunately, all fall short of painting a picture of what it’s like to drive this car.

Assuming you don’t turn the woefully inadequate 275 section width tires into pricey plumes of Pirelli Perfume, you’ll be treated to a tsunami of mechanical fury and G force as the Charger shrugs off its 2,083 kilos of curb weight and torpedoes itself forward. The supercharger sings its delightful shriek the whole time sounding very much like a feral cat gargling titanium. 100km/h flashes by in under 4 seconds on the way to a National Hot Rod Association verified ¼ mile time (1,320 meters) of 11 seconds flat. Those numbers are incredibly heady for a dedicated sports car let alone a family sedan with room for 5 and a cavernous trunk.

The gobsmacking rush of power can be awakened at any speed, in any gear and at any rpm, not just the hole shot. See a gap in traffic wayyyyyy ahead? Flex your right foot and you’ll be dumbfounded on how quickly you get there, leaving a goofy grin and a slew of expletives in your wake. This is serious stuff, folks.

Some ink has been spilled complaining about the Charger’s prodigious thirst and its team of fuel injector’s ability to fill a pint glass with fuel in seven seconds at full spit. It’s true that tapping into the Hellcat’s incredibly vast reserves of power will have a negative effect on fuel consumption- but what if you drive the Hellcat gingerly? It actually has an Eco Mode, and when you select it and operate the vehicle at 1/10th of its performance it will actually return decent fuel economy. We saw an impressive 10L/100km on the highway and netted overall mileage of 13.2L/100km during the duration of our Road Test. Not anything to write home about if you’re flogging a Prius, but for a heavy beast with over 700 horsepower, that number is downright sparkling.

The interior is also a worth getting excited over, especially if you spent time in a Charger cockpit prior to the recent re-think. Dodge didn’t blow the Charger budget on just the oily bits- turns out the inside of the Hellcat is a pretty nice place to be. All touchpoints and switchgear feel quality and well built, and the Uconnect’s ease of use and general awesomeness surely ranks it in the top tier of infotainment systems in general. Integrated into the slick interface is the SRT apps page, which provided you access to an overwhelming amount of information; stuff like supercharger boost, lateral acceleration, and intake air temperature are all available at the touch of a few buttons. This is where you can dial up the Charger’s temperament, from docile kitty to full-on pissed off feline. Even in the Hellcat’s most relaxed settings, huge acceleration is never far away and the car still feels pointy and toothsome.

The only major aspect of the Hellcat experience we haven’t touched on is pricing. It isn’t worth listing how many supercars cost more than the Hellcat, and how many of those cars have less horsepower (pretty much all of them.) If you aspire to own a car with a similar glut of sheer power, your choices are few- Lamborghini Aventador ($485,000) or perhaps a McLaren 650S ($287,000). Fancy a hi-po sedan like the Charger? Mercedes Benz will happily sell you a version of its S65 ($296,000). The cheapest one of the lot we just mentioned stickers for $214,000 more than the Hellcat. This easily inserts the Hellcat into conversations discussing the performance bargain of the century. That said, it wouldn’t be news if we told you that diamonds are worth more than particle board so we won’t dwell any further on how remarkable the Hellcat price tag is. Oh, and it’s backed up a by a full factory warranty too.

After our Road Test concluded, we reluctantly headed back to FCA headquarters to return it. The short trudge to the offices, keys clutched in hand, felt much longer than usual. We said it before, and we’ll say it again: this is a truly exceptional car. If you’ve got even a modicum of petrolhead tendencies, you owe it to yourself to get a ride in one of these beasts, or if you’re lucky enough, get behind the wheel. Dodge’s claim of building The Most Powerful Production Muscle Car Ever isn’t marketing bumf- it’s fact.

2015 Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat  – Specifications

  • Price as tested: $73,635
  • Body Type: 4-door, 5 passenger sedan
  • Powertrain Layout: Front engine/rear-wheel drive
  • Engine:  6.2-litre supercharged V8, OHV, 16 valves
  • Horsepower: 707@ 6,000 rpm
  • Torque (lb-ft): 650 @ 4,800 rpm
  • Transmission: 8-speed automatic
  • Curb weight: 2,083 kg (4,592 lbs)
  • Fuel consumption: 13.2/100km (18 mpg)