2018 Dodge Challenger SRT Demon First Drive: Brutally Effective

– Indianapolis, Indiana

Let’s be honest: All you really want to know about the Dodge Demon is what it feels like to launch it down a drag strip. To find out, I’m driving a Go Mango-painted one that’s filled with high-octane fuel to unlock all 840 horsepower and 770 pound-feet of torque available from its engine. It wears skinny front-runner tires, and has the optional harness bar and harnesses fitted in place of the Challenger’s normal back seat. The only way this Demon could be better primed for going fast is if it were built without a passenger seat; models that do not include that option are another 58 pounds lighter.

Do it perfectly, and Dodge says the Demon will accelerate at 1.8 g – quicker than if you dropped it off a cliff – and run a quarter mile in 9.65 seconds at 140 miles per hour. That’s record-setting stuff. Even with me at the helm, the Demon hooks up and explodes out of the gate. The nose rises as the rear tires hunker into the road surface, and the sprint to 30 mph is over before I can blink. Supercharger whine deafens as the car tears down the track, with upshifts that snap my head back each time. It pulls and pulls and pulls, and feels like it would keep going long, long after crossing the finish line.

The timing lights are turned off for our test drives at Lucas Oil Raceway to stop anyone getting over-eager behind the wheel, but there’s no doubt in my mind that I’ve never driven myself through a quarter-mile as quickly as I have in the Demon. It is a bruta...