Auto Nsider Review: 2016 Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat

 

707 Horsepower.

 

Let that soak in for a minute.

 

That’s more than yesterday’s NASCAR stocker.

 

That’s good for around 200 MPH.

 

707 Horsepower.

 

It’s like something out of a Marvel Comic.

 

WHAM!   POW!!!   ZOWIE!!!

 

Don’t even think about hittin’ it if your wheels aren’t perfectly straight….on dry pavement.

 

And by “hittin’ it”, I don’t mean flooring it.    No.     Don’t even think about poking this thing in the ribs just a little bit if you’re not perfectly lined up.      Sideways city if you do.

 

707 HP.    That’s overkill, right?

 

I used to think so.

 

But truth be known, this machine is an absolute hoot.

 

And bystanders in the know seem to think so, too.

 

Jags draw attention.    The first Racing-Yellow “New” Camaro drew attention.

 

But Dodge’s SRT Hellcat drew smiles, cameras, thumbs-up and fist bumps from Uber drivers, law enforcement, parking lot attendants and automobile buffs of all ages and nationalities.   Surprising to see that a limited production vehicle like the Hellcat has the fan base that it does.

 

And speaking of surprises, try 22+ MPG.   I picked up the Hellcat on a drizzly night.    Thought it prudent to switch from 700 HP to 500.   ( Just a punch of what used to be a button )  Played it safe driving like someone in a witness protection program on the way home and got over 22 MPG.

 

But that’s a gift that you won’t often experience.   It’s just too much fun to poke this beast and listen to it growl.

 

Zero to 60 in under three seconds….but you better use the Hellcat’s “Launch” mode.    Otherwise you’ll leave long, wavy black streaks representing a few thousand miles of what otherwise would have been tread life.

 

Launch Control is just one of the options that you can select  when pressing “SRT” on the dash.    Launch control is a little computer that detects wheel spin and applies power to the wheels not slipping…and can actually reduce power until you regain traction.    Leave “Launch Control” off…..and you’re liable to be looking forward out of your side windows.

 

500 HP or 700 HP are other choices.    Actually there’s so much power available that it’s a little tough to tell the difference if you’re not on a track.

 

And “Track” settings…along with “Sport” and “Street” suspension choices are some of the other choices.

 

Sure….Dodge’s Hellcat has some of the luxuries that you’d expect of a high $60’s – low $70’s vehicle.    Heated and ventilated leather…blind-spot, cross-path and parking assists….remote start….and killer audio.

 

But performance is what this bad boy is all about.   Brembo 6-piston brakes….Bilstein 3-mode competition suspension, stability and anti-roll control, Pirelli 275 / 40 / ZR20 P Zero Summer sneakers on all four wheels, and, of course, that big 6.2 liter Supercharged Hemi.

 

I thought that Dodge’s Hellcat might be just one more ridiculously overpowered sled with no cred.     Not so.   It’s a well-rounded performance package that just happens to offer more “GO”…and handling….and stopping power….than anything close to its’ price.

 

Dodge has gained a reputation for offering perhaps the most power for the least cost of any major manufacturer…largely due to a real “car guy”, Ralph Gilles, who headed Dodge’s SRT division before his most recent promotion.   As it’s been said, committees can turn a race horse into a camel.    Real Car Guys, in contrast, have a way of making real interesting things happen.

 

If 70K and 707 HP might be more than you need, Dodge can put you into a variety of Hemi-engined chargers in the $30’s and $40’s….and they probably pack all the punch that you’ll ever need.

 

But if “Bad” just isn’t enough for you…..if “Biggest and Baddest of All” is who you are, Dodge’s Hellcat delivers.
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