2015 Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat REVIEW
2015 Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat VIDEO REVIEW by Auto Critic Steve Hammes
In a world full of “pretty good” isn’t it refreshing when you come across something outstanding; a piece of work so beyond expectations that the line between genius and crazy is very blurry. That’s exactly what Dodge has concocted here with the mightiest 4-door on the planet; the new 2015 Charger Hellcat.
There isn’t a more audacious, red-blooded performance brand than Dodge. From their provocative marketing to their ravenous fan base, Mopar Nation revels in bigger, louder and faster. So while it’s shocking, particularly in this day and age, to see a family sedan morph into a 700+ horsepower leviathan what’s not stunning is that it comes from Dodge.
Available as a Challenger or Charger, the essential piece to a Hellcat is the engine. Ninety-one percent new, this 6.2-liter supercharged HEMI beast has been engineered by Chrysler’s speed-crazy SRT division. It makes the 485-horsepower 392 HEMI look tame by comparison. The numbers are daunting; 707 horsepower, 650 pound-feet of torque, a top speed of 204 mph and an 11.0-second ¼ mile time; this from the heaviest Charger of all – a 4,575 pound large car. Impressive though as they are, they’re just numbers. It’s the visceral conviction with which the Hellcat communicates that’ll leave you in awe. Before you even get into “Drive,” the straight-through, twin-exhaust lights off a discordant burble that’ll scatter the feeble. And the twin-screw supercharger feeding the V8 up to 11.6 psi of cooled air whines with the distinctiveness only a blown engine can. If the Pitch Black motif is an attempt at understated guise, the Hellcat’s voice quickly dispenses with the notion. It sounds like nothing else you can buy from a dealer showroom and leaves a lasting impression.
If you’re driving a Hellcat and the key fob isn’t red, it means one of two things: either you’re not trustworthy or someone just doesn’t like you very much.
A car like this can be dangerous in the wrong hands, so while the Red key unlocks all of the power, the black one can be handed out to neighbors and the like, restricting output to 500 horsepower. A Valet Mode further reins in the car with all other features set to their safest modes.
To put this kind of power to the pavement in a rear drive car isn’t easy to say the least so Dodge provides a launch control feature with an adjustable RPM range to help put you in the sweet spot for maximum acceleration.
Playing with various set-ups, though on less-than perfect pavement, my best time was 4.1-seconds to 60mph. However, with just the right amount of wheelspin another half a second can be lopped off. And depending on traction control settings and how prepped these mammoth Pirellis are, you either take off in a straight line or snake your way down the track. But if there’s one thing you should know about this engine, it’s that it never gives up. Matched perfectly with a beefed-up Torqueflite 8-speed automatic, the Hellcat just keeps on giving with no lull in the action. If you had enough room you could join the 200mph club.
A number of drive modes keeps ratcheting up the nuttiness until you’re at the full bore track setting with the stiffest damper tuning, the fastest shift times and the loudest pipe sounds. Despite its atypical sports car hugeness, the Hellcat doesn’t shy away from sharp turns or your favorite curvy road but you’ve got to trust the car and yourself first. If you don’t approach the throttle with utmost finesse you’ll end up in a YouTube video as the guy who just wrecked his new Hellcat.
When you’re not showing off in a straight line, the adaptive Bilstein shocks, uniquely tuned front springs, and 275 wide P Zeros permit backroad moves you’d never expect. The car feels big and its weight is palpable, but exceptional brake feel, quick turn-in and limited-slip exits mean it can power through, though some slop in the wheel and an American-sized driver’s seat buffer the car to driver connectedness. If you’re wondering, keeping an extra set of rear rubber around costs about $400.
If you have makes on purchasing a Hellcat as your only car, you’ll have no complaints about the remarkably compliant Street setting ride quality, hushed cabin noise – of course, when you’re not into the throttle – Laguna Leather comfort, big car spaciousness or top notch infotainment and electronics. On the flipside, after a $1,700 gas guzzler tax it drinks premium at about 16mpg and if you’ve got a lead foot you’ll constantly be spinning the tires. People poke fun of the Eco mode, but I found it to be the most civil way to drive around town while saving some gas. It also attracts all the wrong kinds of attention so it’s not the sleeper that the Chevy SS is. It’s also not easy to obtain one and though bargain-priced for what it is, this car with the optional Laguna Leather Group, 19-speaker Premium Audio Group, sunroof, Uconnect touchscreen navi and summer-use tires adds up to an MSRP of $70,865.
So my week with the Hellcat has come to an end and it’s been every bit as ridiculous as I had imagined. The supercharger is a game-changer in the fast 4-door segment. But despite its perceived practicality as an everyday use sedan, the reality is that believe it or not sometimes more is too much and I view the Hellcat as a wicked cool toy more than a 1 car solution.
Dodge and SRT have significantly raised the ante in the horsepower war, creating a hellacious Charger worthy of the name Hellcat.