2021 DODGE CHARGER SRT TEST DRIVE
2021 DODGE CHARGER SRT TEST DRIVE BY CAR CRITIC STEVE HAMMES
2021 Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat Redeye Widebody
The Dodge Charger Hellcat: it’s fast but apparently not fast enough.
So here we have the Hellcat Redeye – the fastest Charger Dodge has ever built.
797 horsepower. 707 pound-feet of torque. Capable of exceeding 200mph. All prerequisites for a solid family sedan, right? Well, that’s what the Dodge Charger is and, believe it or not, even when spec’d like this, it can still skillfully serve in that manner.
Now, you’ve got to have a penchant for gas stations and a little redneck in you for sure but all told this Charger is a large car with a huge trunk that can transport up to 5 in complete comfort and at a leisurely pace. That’s right; gobs of power are always available but when driving in the Auto setting under Eco conditions the Hellcat Redeye cruises around with a barely a hint that at any given moment things can go ballistic. And indeed they do.
Try Sport mode, for instance, which unleashes the Hemi’s full fury and grab the wheel with 2 hands. Even with these optional P Zero summer tires, grip is the Redeye’s biggest challenge.
Despite a smoky line lock rubber cleaning followed by launch control, getting this car down the runway in a straight line is tricky. So is the Redeye capable of hitting 60mph in the mid 3s and running a sub 11 second quarter mile? I’m sure that it is. But getting that power to the pavement is going to require a higher grade of tarmac than I have to offer.
That being said, the Widebody competition suspension and 305 Pirellis hold this rear-wheel drive car to the road with an amazing level of competence, especially considering its combination of power and curb weight. At over 4,600 pounds these 4 tires have a lot of responsibility.
And if you drive it in real life like you do in your dreams you’ll be asking for Tire Rack gift cards at every birthday. $400 per tire, in case you’re wondering. In F8 Green with over $7,000 in optional equipment including the Navigation and Travel Group, Carbon/Suede Interior Package, performance tires, Warp Speed Granite Wheels, Orange Brake Calipers and an unfortunate $2,100 gas guzzler tax, total MSRP is $87,740. Fuel efficiency is not a Hellcat strong suit: expect 12mpg in around the town driving on 91 octane.
The supercharger whine, the insane amounts of power immediately on tap that seem to have no end, the rear end breaking loose on demand, the Redeye is just more of what already makes the Hellcat outrageous.
Now the Widebody kit and bigger tires do improve handling but let’s be honest – this car is a boat so as the driver you’ll crave slightly straighter roads. And that being said, if you ever get to drive one of these, and I’m being serious, please be careful. If you stab at the throttle here, especially if you’re an inexperienced driver, you’ll end up in a world of hurt.
You’ll learn quickly to approach the gas pedal as if it was the detonator to a bomb. And as long as you do you’ll be fine. The Redeye’s substantial size and weight are palpable in the turns but the Charger hangs on in a brutish kind of way.
Drive it in manual mode and the upgraded 8-speed auto will snap your head back with every shift. It’s shockingly quick to change gears with power so immediately delivered it’ll scare the crap out of you and your passengers.
More boost with a larger air box, higher redline, and double the fuel pumps the Redeye is power on top of power capable of emptying its gas tank under full throttle in under 11 minutes. And with both the Power Chiller to feed denser air into the supercharger and the After-Run Chiller to cool things down, the Redeye’s thermal management is as innovative as the engine is elemental.
It’s been interesting driving this Hellcat after coming off of a week with the new BMW M3; 2 racy sedans priced from $70,000 whose definition of “performance” could not be more different. And you sense that as soon as you sit in these oversized, Lazy Boy-like seats.
While the M3 cocoons you for high G forces the Hellcat is like, eh, you’ll mostly be going in a straight line anyway. And that’s what this machine is; an outrageously powerful showboat that loves to smoke its tires and make lots of noise.
And I’m not presenting that as if it’s a bad thing – but this is a muscle car and not a sports sedan. And kudos to Dodge for making all of the performance features so easily accessible. Unlike other automakers who make you dig around and press a million buttons to find drive modes and launch control the Hellcat makes it super easy.
This remains my favorite version of Uconnect – so much to offer – and the Performance Pages and Drive Mode screens are both exhaustive and intuitive. The best in the biz. There’s seemingly nothing you can’t measure, record or personalize.
And the features are strong; heated and ventilated seats, heated steering wheel, heated rear seats, numerous USB ports, and key safety tech – the Redeye is well stocked and luxurious. These brown seats wouldn’t be my first choice but the leather is very supple. And in front of the driver are even more cool gauges and readouts…the only thing missing is a head-up display which would be great to have.
The cabin is quiet, the adaptive suspension provides a firm but comfortable ride and for a car whose foundation is this old Dodge has done a remarkable job in keeping the Charger fresh.
But a car such as this remains a video game fantasy for most – in an era of electrification there won’t be many takers for a Demon-powered Charger. But Dodge and the brotherhood of muscle live in a place where time stands still and only the power seems to change.
2021 DODGE CHARGER SRT TEST DRIVE BY CAR CRITIC STEVE HAMMES | TESTDRIVENOW 2021(c)