2018 Dodge Challenger Hellcat Widebody First Drive: Wider Means Better

 – Indianapolis, Indiana

While the allure of the wheelie poppin’ and production-car-record-settin’ SRT Demon is strong, most of us hoping to put SRT’s new top dog in our driveway won’t get the chance; only 3,300 examples have been earmarked for production. But us performance enthusiasts have a viable alternative with the new Challenger SRT Hellcat Widebody, a model not constrained by production limitations, which also happens to offer nine-tenths of the Demon’s performance and looks.

More importantly, rather than being solely focused on drag strip supremacy, the Widebody continues the Hellcat’s tradition of being a Jack-of-all-trades – a superlative grand tourer that packs some serious track capability, whether that be on a road course or a quarter mile at a time.

 

Don't miss our First Drive of the Challenger Demon:

 

Still, some of the Hellcat’s charm has always been tied to its slightly unhinged nature, due in no small part to Dodge’s decision to send 707 horsepower and 650 pound-feet of torque to 275-mm-wide rear rubber. Does the additional grip and bulging bodywork result in a better Hellcat, or has the message been lost in translation? I headed to Indianapolis to put the car through its paces on the street and around Indy’s GP circuit to find out.

Getting the most out the Hellcat has always involved a measured use of the loud pedal. While the car features some sophisticated traction and stability contr...