2019 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat Redeye First Drive: Demon Spawn
On October 30th, 1961, the USSR tested RDS-220 on Novaya Zemlya, a chain of islands off the northern coast of Russia. Nicknamed the Tsar Bomba by Westerners, the nuclear device had a yield of roughly 50 megatons of TNT, literally thousands of times more powerful than the atomic weapons used near the end of WWII.
The Tsar Bomba was also known by another name: Kuzma's Mother. It was a reference to Nikita Khrushchev's promise a year prior at a session of United Nations General Assembly to "show the United States a Kuzma's mother," an idiom that roughly translates to "We'll show you.”
When the 707-horsepower Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat was announced back in 2014, it raised the bar for engine output in production muscle cars – all of a sudden, 600 horsepower seemed almost pedestrian. The car was an immediate sensation with critics and enthusiasts alike, and the usual suspects from around the industry scrambled to form their own responses. While convincing arguments can be made about power-to-weight ratios, grip, and other factors that contribute to a vehicle’s overall dynamic capability, that lofty output number resonated far more effectively than any pared-down engineering dissertation could.
The sales numbers backed this up – Dodge literally couldn’t build Hellcats fast enough that first year. The Challenger lineup continues to buck...