Dodge Charger Hellcat Peerless for Price and Power: First Drive

Dodge has fired a warning shot across the bow of muscle car competitors. They're going to have to work overtime to best the 2015 Dodge Charger Hellcat. It is without peer for price and performance. The new 2015 Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat is powered by the new supercharged 6.2-liter HEMI V8 engine. Its 707 horsepower makes it the quickest, fastest and most powerful production sedan in the world, as well as the most capable and technologically advanced four-door muscle car in America. There's no German, Asian or Korean sedan that can match it for hustle. RELATED: See photos of the 2015 Dodge Charger Hellcat
Dodge Charger Hellcat Peerless for Price and Power: First Drive
The unrivaled four-door performance numbers tell an impressive story with an NHRA-certified, quarter mile in 11.0 seconds, 0-100-0 mph in under 13 seconds, and a top speed of 204 miles per hour. My best time on the track at Summit Point Motorsports Park in West Virginia was 125 mph. Other journalists cracked 130 mph. I've had the opportunity to drive the Charger Hellcat and the Challenger Hellcat over local streets, highways and on the track. Hands down the Charger Hellcat is the better choice, even for $4,000 more. The Charger Hellcat felt like the more balanced and planted of the two with its 54:46 front-rear weigh distribution vs. 57.2:42.8 for the Challenger. (Call it a seat-of-the-pants preference for the Charger Hellcat because I make no proclamations that I am a good enough driver to discern the difference in weight distribution.) The supercharged V8 engine is mated to the beefy new TorqueFlite 8HP90 eight-speed automatic transmission. Stomp the accelerator and the Hellcat just eats its way through the gears with forceful downshifts propelling you forward in the blink of an eye. Nothing stands in your way. The TorqueFlite transmission is calibrated to match the Hellcat's five drive modes, from ultra-smooth in the street mode (which I never engaged) to 160 millisecond shifts in track mode. RELATED: See photos of the 1969 Dodge Charger General Lee
Dodge Charger Hellcat Peerless for Price and Power: First Drive
This new Hellcat engine is Dodge and SRT’s first application of V8 supercharger technology, featuring a forged-steel crankshaft with induction-hardened bearing surfaces. As Dodge so aptly describes it, "The result is a crank so well engineered it can withstand firing pressures of 110 bar (1,595 psi) – the equivalent of five family sedans standing on each piston, every two revolutions." Further enhancements to the engine include premium-grade, heat-treated aluminum-alloy cylinder heads, which are built for superior heat conductivity. Allow me a moment of automotive geekiness to include this tidbit, too. Additional cooling measures include a low-temperature circuit with two air/coolant heat exchangers integrated into the supercharger housing. This setup is designed to keep air temperatures below 140 degrees Fahrenheit, Dodge says, under extreme ambient conditions, while enabling air flow of up to 30,000 liters per minute. Dodge says the feature is so effective there is no drop in engine power due to cooling needs even after running hard for 20 minutes in 100-degree heat. RELATED: See photos of the 1970 Dodge Charger Daytona Hardtop
Dodge Charger Hellcat Peerless for Price and Power: First Drive
The Charger Hellcat is a definite track beast. But, and this is an important distinction, it's also an everyday driver. Heck, it can pull duty as a family hauler – something the Challenger can't do. The Charger even has optional child seats. The Charger Hellcat sits on beautiful Slingshot split-seven spoke 20-by-9.5-inch, lightweight forged-aluminum wheels with a standard Matte Black finish or the optional Brass Monkey/Dark Bronze finish. Take the latter set. They're much more distinctive. Two new 275/40ZR20 Pirelli P Zero tires provide performance for all seasons. Both Pirelli P Zero Nero and P Zero tires are Y-Plus rated to handle the speeds of the Charger SRT Hellcat. Just to be politically correct, the Charger offers more than 80 standard and available safety and security features, including new-for-2015 Full-speed Forward Collision Warning-Plus, Adaptive Cruise Control-Plus with Full Stop, Lane Departure Warning with Lane Keep Assist, ParkView rear backup camera with dynamic gridlines and 9-1-1 call/Assist Call. RELATED: See photos of the 1970 Dodge Charger Daytona Hardtop
Dodge Charger Hellcat Peerless for Price and Power: First Drive
Standard on the 2015 Charger Hellcat is the largest front-brake package ever offered in a Chrysler vehicle, featuring all-new 15.4-inch Brembo two-piece rotors with six-piston calipers for outstanding heat management and thermal capacity and longevity. The Charger Hellcat isn't all about performance. Dodge has stepped up and provided a fairly impressive interior. Is it up to Audi or BMW standards? Frankly no, but its better than any Cadillac or Lincoln interior I've seen. RELATED: See photos of the 2015 Dodge Challenger Hellcat
Dodge Charger Hellcat Peerless for Price and Power: First Drive
The logical side of my brain knows the ScatPack at $39,995 and no gas guzzler tax vs. the Hellcat at $63,995, including $1,700 gas guzzler tax, makes more sense for 99% of drivers. In fact, it's the version I recommend for the two-door Challenger. But, the Charger Hellcat is an aspirational vehicle. Higher monthly payments be damned. Lack of track time be damned. Lack of open road where you can wring out its 204-mph top speed be damned. Maybe one owner in 100,000 will ever be able to extract from the Charger Hellcat its full capabilities, but that's no reason not to own one. Specs: Engine: 6.2-liter HEMI V8 Horsepower: 707 hp MPG: 14 city/ 23 highway Price: $64,990 with $995 destination Positives: Most powerful four-door sedan in existence Great track car that can be driven every day Aggressive styling Negatives: Interior not quite up to its price tag Limited ability to tap its full potential