BMW M3 vs. Dodge Charger Hellcat: Is HP the Only Number That Matters?
$63,000 and $66,000 are respectively vast sums of money to the average consumer. 425 and 707 horsepower are equally staggering performance figures in a world where 200 horsepower is the norm for most passenger cars. Yet, both numbers come from what you could call “family-oriented automobiles”. Capable of taking the kids to school, running errands, or demolishing tires at an empty intersection. The BMW M3 and the Dodge Charger Hellcat don’t compete for the same market share. They don’t even compete in the same levels of performance. One is a German surgeon’s scalpel, while the other an American chainsaw. However, where they do compete is in pricing, and gauging their individual prices versus what each offer, how does one choose between the two performance sedans. RELATED: See More of the BMW M3 Here
M vs. SRT
Since their debut, we’ve driven both cars extensively. Last year, we named the Dodge Charger Hellcat our BoldRide of the Year. We love its instantaneous tire destruction and its ability to make everyone in the world once again feel like a child. The BMW M3, on the other hand, is one of the best performance cars around. Period. The handling, power delivery from its turbocharged inline six-cylinder engine, and the fact that you can still get it with a manual transmission has us swooning.
It was a real struggle when both the Charger Hellcat and the M3 had to leave our care, since they are both the kind of performance sedans we’d rather not give back. But we definitely had more trouble giving back one over the other—and it might not be the one you’re all expecting.
The Dodge Charger Hellcat is a beautiful machine and offers a performance that you typically wouldn’t be able to touch unless dropping six-figures. It’s the everyman’s supercar, and that’s what Dodge intended it to be. But it doesn’t have the well-rounded nature that BMW’s M3 offers. The Charger Hellcat is great at making loud noises, sitting five people comfortably, and demolishing some purpose-built racing cars. Though it will allow you to drift a corner like you’re Ken Block, it doesn’t exactly handle all that well. The BMW is another story.
Thrashing BMW’s M3 was definitely a highlight of the year. Taking it into the canyons, and pushing it to our limits revealed a car that’s frighteningly faster than we are. It’s manual transmission is sublime as you shift through its gears. The traction delivered from the suspension setup, the chassis, and its Michelin Pilot Super Sports is phenomenal. Nevertheless, it still has enough slack in that geometry, and enough torque to light up the rear end and fill the area with a dense cloud of tire smoke. It’s a hooligan in BMW clothing.
Add the level of sophistication in the BMW, and the two cars become light-years apart. Whereas the Charger Hellcat was built to be a cheaper, super-sedan alternative, BMW didn’t skimp on the details; every piece of trim, the quality of the leather on the seats, and every knob and button feels Teutonic. A vast contrast to the Charger Hellcat’s interior made of hard plastics. The BMW’s engine however, is the star of the show.
RELATED: See More of the Dodge Charger Hellcat Here
Is Horsepower The Defining Factor?
BMW’s last M3 made use of naturally aspirated V8 engine, and had a bellow that needed to be witnessed in person to truly appreciate. But the M3’s new twin-turbocharged inline six-cylinder engine is a symphony, a masterful triumph in turbocharged engines. There’s virtually no lag from the turbo setup, meaning you have almost instantaneous acceleration. It’s a violence that you wish to repeat over and over again. Where the Charger Hellcat’s acceleration could be described as a sledgehammer, the M3 is a laser-guided missile.
That ferocity is down to the 1,000-pound weight difference between the two cars. The Charger Hellcat, while having 707 horsepower, weighs a hefty 4,575 pounds. The M3, with its 425 horsepower, weighs just 3,540 lbs. That weight makes a deafening difference between the two performance sedans, one that can’t be made up with horsepower alone.
RELATED: The 2015 BoldRide of the Year is…
Of course, armchair enthusiasts that have never driven either car will call us idiots, or noobs, or the kind of slanderous expletives frequently found on forums and in comment sections for picking the BMW M3 over the obviously better because it has more horsepower Dodge Charger Hellcat. We still love the Charger Hellcat, and that you could spec one out with a baby seat.
The BMW M3 is just that good, and in the real world, 425 horsepower is better than 707.
Engine: 3.0-liter Twin-turbocharged Inline Six-Cylinder
0-60: 3.8 Seconds
Dodge Charger Hellcat
Engine: 6.2-liter Supercharged V8
0-60: 3.7 Seconds
BMW quality is unmatched in the class
Turbo and supercharger noises are great things to have
Both have ludicrous top speeds
Pricey options on BMW M3
Hellcat has too much hard plastic
We don't own either of them...
Photo Credit: Jeff Perez and Jonathon Klein for BoldRide