It’s easy to make a car go fast. Car guys know this. Hang a big Whipple or twin turbos on your V8 and drag that bumper. The hard part is the compromise. A really fast car won’t get you to school, it can’t drive 500 miles straight without eating its own lifters or boiling the fuel, it’s too low, it’s too loud, and it’s not for the street. If it rains, you’ll die.
We know the new Hellcat is fast. That’s why we skipped the lead-and-follow laps (most of them, anyway) on the Chrysler sanctioned racetrack and snuck the new 2015 Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat off the racetrack grounds to see if it was both a quick and usable car. But first: acceleration. By now, you know the SRT Hellcat series has the 6.2L Hemi with an ITI 2,380 twin-screw supercharger that delivers 11.6 psi. The rotors are coated with a mixture of Teflon and what Chrysler calls “a proprietary formula of polyamide and other resins.” To fight heat, the supercharger uses two air-to-water heat exchangers to keep inlet air temps below 140 degrees Fahrenheit in 100-degree air for 20 minutes of hard driving on a road course. Combined with the monster 4.71:1 First-gear ratio in the 8HP90 eight-speed transmission and a final drive of 2.62:1, the car can run the quarter-mile in 11-flat on its street tires.
Inside, it’s comfy and snug and armed with paddle shifters. When we stomped it open from a dead idle, it was like riding a 4,000-pound bottle rocket complete with a booming report at the end of each pull of the paddle. After a shrieking whine and long whistle, BOOM, as the eight-speed goes for the next ratio. Shriek, boom, shriek, boom. Because all of the gear ratio is in the transmission, the car can hit a top speed of 204 mph. And it didn’t just creep there; the tailwind run was reported to be 214 mph.
Is it a street car? Yes. To drill the point home, the press car had baby seats, leather, navigation goodies, a comfortable seating position, and a good sound system that didn’t have to fight the exhaust note. In the default street mode, it’s just like driving a nice sedan. Click it into Track mode, and you get abrupt 160-millisecond shifts. Near the redline, the interrupter creates a shotgun blast from the exhaust as you upshift, all the while the computers keep the car glued to the ground and going straight. Does it handle? With 275s on 20s all the way around, we couldn’t push it far enough to over or understeer on the street, there simply wasn’t enough room. We didn’t care because for us, a Dodge like this is for the quarter-mile.
The new 6.2L has all the parts you are comfortable seeing on a fast-car spec sheet, like a forged rotator with a modified cast-iron block, and carbon coated pistons. But the engineers at Chrysler went beyond the standard spec sheet and added custom go-fast drivetrain parts and electronics then drag-tested it all as a mind-blower to every kind of car geek there is. The goodness starts with the fact that the Hellcat was subjected to 100 consecutive drag starts to see if anything came loose. The transmission has an extra pinion gear in the First and Third gearset and five more disks in each clutch pack. The ratio is a mega-deep 4.71:1 in First so it hits pretty hard, even on street tires. The new eight-speed is 30 percent stronger than its predecessor.
There is a button near the radio marked Launch that activates one of the best features on the car: the Launch Control. Using the touchscreen, the Launch Control can be set to a specific rpm in the Launch Setup menu. Once the Launch Control is activated, either using the menu or the button described earlier, simply push the brake and floor the gas pedal. The engine will rev to the preset limit and wait for you to release the brake. When the brake is released, the engine goes to the high limit, so you’d better be ready to shift to Second. For safety, it won’t let you go with the wheel turned.
The Hellcat also has a built-in reaction timer so you can practice against the tree and the computer records incrementals on time slips that can be viewed on the touchscreen after each run. The shift light can be set for each individual gear ratio and lights the entire backlight on the gauge cluster so you really can’t miss it.
To sum it up, in the drag-racing world, this car runs 11-flat on street tires, makes 707 hp and 650 lb-ft with factory longevity, has onboard drag electronics so you can text your fastest timeslip to your friends, has a intercooled supercharger, and on top of it all, can get you, your kid, and three of your friends to the dragstrip and back without your wife having any idea what is in the driveway. Unless you tell her, that is.
- There really are two key fobs: the red one unlocks the fun.
- The gold wheel color is called Brass Monkey.
- The non-Hellcat SRT Charger has a 6.4L Hemi.
- The 6.2L Hellcat engine uses 91 percent new components compared with the 6.4L Hemi.
- Chrysler press used the word “brawny” when referring to the TorqueFlite in the release.
- The Hellcat 6.2L block is powdercoated Hemi Orange.
- The 707 hp was made with 58-lb/hr injectors, proving your injectors are too big.
- Chrysler also used the word “hellacious” in the same press release.
- First: 4.71
- Second: 3.14
- Third: 2.10
- Fourth: 1.67
- Fifth: 1.29
- Sixth: 1.00
- Seventh: 0.85
- Eighth: 0.67
- Reverse: 3.30