With 707-horsepower and comfortable seating for five, the 2015 Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat is the most powerful family sedan ever offered. The $63,995 question is, can the head of the American household drive it without losing his/her license?
In Mark Twain’s 1899 short story “The Man That Corrupted Hadleyburg,” the town of Hadleyburg prides itself on its reputation for honesty. Generations of citizens are raised to be honest, and the town’s motto is “lead us not into temptation.” A stranger, having been slighted by the town, schemes to lead Hadleyburg into temptation to prove the town’s reputation is false. In the end, all of the important citizens show they really aren’t honest, and they realize that to be truly delivered from evil one must face temptation and withstand it.
In the automotive world, Dodge is playing the part of the stranger, tempting the American family with the release of the 2015 Charger SRT Hellcat. A four-door sedan with a ludicrous 707-horsepower, the Hellcat has the space to transport a family of five and the power to land dad in jail.
The Charger is the second Hellcat Dodge has released, as the Challenger Hellcat arrived a couple months ago. Like the Challenger, the Charger Hellcat takes its name from the supercharged 6.2-liter V-8 Hellcat engine. While the big Hemi V-8 is certainly enough, the Hellcat gets its extra kick from a screw-type supercharger that produces 11 pounds of boost and requires 80-horsepower just to spin it up.
Total output is 707-horsepower and 650 lb.-ft. of torque, making the Hellcat the most powerful American production engine of all time. Dodge provides two key fobs, black and red. The black key limits the Hellcat to 500-horsepower and the red key unlocks all 707 demonic ponies. Consider us tempted, very tempted!
But the Charger Hellcat is more than just a massive engine. Mechanically, it gets three-mode Bilstein dampers, hydraulic steering, big honkin’ 15.4-inch Brembo brakes with six-piston calipers up front and four-piston calipers in the rear, and lightweight 20-inch forged aluminum wheels with either all-season Pirelli P Zero Nero or summer P Zero performance tires.
To both intimidate every car on the street and deal with the aerodynamics of a 204-mph top speed, the body is also unique. An integrated front splitter and a rear spoiler aid airflow, while the aluminum hood features a cold air intake and a pair of heat extractors to help the engine breathe. The front and rear fascias are also modified, and the grille is blacked out to look downright sinister. The look, of course, is part of the temptation. If you want to look like Darth Vader’s Uber driver, there’s no better choice than the Charger Hellcat.
The real temptation, however, is the throttle pedal. While the engine is tame enough to drive every day, it?s also capable of unleashing a fury matched only by hyper-exotics costing ten times as much. Fire it up and it makes great raucous rumbling sounds that announce the big V-8’s presence with authority. Initial tip-in is a tad too aggressive, but the engine is docile until you really stab the throttle. Then all hell breaks loose, so to speak. The power comes on immediately, and in a rush that will pin you back in your seat and knock out any loose fillings.
The only problem is transmitting all that power to the pavement. The P275/40R20 tires are pretty wide, but not wide and sticky enough to provide all the traction needed for this much power. Dodge quotes a quarter-mile time of 11.0 seconds and a 0 to 60 mph time of less than 4.0 seconds, but getting the car to hook up and deliver those numbers requires the right conditions and the right driver. A Launch Control system helps, but it doesn’t deliver the absolute best times.
For the less evolved among us, that lack of traction provides an opportunity to do burnouts great and small. I’m not ashamed; I did a couple of my own during the test drive. It was just too tempting.
The lone transmission is a smooth-shifting 8-speed automatic transmission with manual shift capability. EPA fuel economy estimates aren’t in yet, but there will be a price to pay for all that power. The Challenger Hellcat is rated at 14-mpg city/20 highway. Expect the same, or slightly worse, for the larger Charger.
Engine and transmission performance is programmable via various Drive Modes, which can be selected from the center screen on the dashboard. Dodge offers Sport, Track, and Street settings for the engine, transmission, suspension, and traction control. Drivers can choose full Track, Sport, and Eco settings, or they can program a custom setting that works best for them. We’d recommend using the transmission’s Street mode for everyday driving, as the Sport and Track modes hold gears too long for relaxed cruising.
As part of our test drive, we drove the Hellcat on the road course at Summit Point Raceway in Summit Point, West Virginia. The Charger is a full-size car, and you can feel the prodigious size in the width and weight. This is no sports car, but it handles surprisingly well for its size. The car doesn’t flop over in corners like the Challenger Hellcat does.
Instead, it takes a set and rotates according to the actions of the driver. Too much speed in a turn means the car will push forward rather than rotate, but if you get it under control you can get the car to rotate predictably. It’s easy to get the tail to kick out by getting into the throttle mid-corner, or by lifting off the throttle as you begin a turn. The Charger Hellcat doesn’t offer the sublime feel of a BMW M5, but it is one impressive track car for a big family sedan.
The steering and brakes play into the car’s poise on both the track and street. The hydraulic steering is nicely weighted, fairly quick, and offers some road feel, which is rare these days. The big 15.4-inch two-piece front brake rotors and 13.8-inch rear rotors bring this 4,575-pound beast to a stop in a hurry. The brakes survived a day at the track that included slowing from speeds as high as 145 mph without any warping or fading. Excellent!
The Charger rides well, too. The Sport and especially the Track modes cause some jiggle at highway speeds, but the suspension never pounds over bumps. It may be a track-tuned monster, but it’s fairly easy to live with the Charger Hellcat every day. That makes it even more tempting, of course.
Inside, the Hellcat is a sporty step up from other Chargers while also offering all their useful space. The rear seat is large and inviting, the 16.5 cubic foot trunk is cavernous, and the front seat has plenty of room for a pair of big guys. Those front seat passengers sit on heated and cooled sport buckets upholstered in Nappa leather and suede. While the seats have plenty of bolstering, they may be too wide to hold skinnier occupants in place during hard cornering.
The quality of the materials is exemplary, with soft-touch surfaces everywhere the driver is likely to touch or rest an elbow. The Charger Hellcat also features some great electronics, thanks to a 7-inch driver information screen in the instrument cluster and 8.4-inch touchscreen on the dash. Both display Dodge’s Performance Pages information, which includes G forces, 0 to 60 mph and quarter-mile times, current torque and horsepower use, and additional gauges.
Given the amazing performance of the Hellcat, drivers will be tempted to set new personal bests for several of these performance measures.
And that pretty much sums up the 2015 Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat: temptation. Sure, it has the room you need to tote the family about town, but the power and fury of its 707-horsepower engine is just too, well, tempting!Comment On This Story
Text Source: NYDailyNews.com
Author: Kirk Bell