Written by: Sammy Chan
Photography by: Sammy Chan
When Fiat SpA took over the operating control of Chrysler LLC teetering on brink of bankruptcy in 2009, who would have thought that the outcome of this business proposition was sustainable let alone being viable. Chrysler sales, which had fallen from 2.3 million in 2005 to only 931,402 in 2009, not only have sharply rebounded but have surpassed the 2.3 milliom mark to 2.4 million worldwide vehicle sales in 2013. After all, what seems like a deal from hell today can turn into a deal from heaven tomorrow.
With lots of cash in the bank, Chrysler Group LLC can now afford to burn some tires or to raise hell for a lack of better phrase, and what's more apt to name the most powerful production car in the company's history than the new Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat. With 707 devilish ponies under the hood, this beast must have taken everybody by surprise especially those who have just put their bets on the Chevy Camaro Z/28 to top the muscle car chart.
It felt more like heaven than hell to me when I found out that the Challenger I was testing at this year's testfest (2015 Canadian Car of the Year Awards) was not the SRT 392 I was expecting, but rather the rarefied SRT Hellcat. Smart move for Chrysler Canada indeed as the all-new Ford Mustang GT competing in the same Sports/Performance (over $50k) category was just too iconic to be taken lightly.
Forget the Camaro Z/28, the Corvette Stingray Z06 and heck, even the $400,000 Lamborghini Aventador, the Hellcat boasts more horsepower here than any of these and probably packs the densest power in its 6.2-litre V8 than any other V8s including the very new SLS AMG Black Series from Mercedes-Benz. In fact, the Hellcat even beats its "HellKing", the SRT Viper TA, by 67 hp and 50 lb-ft of torque. Of course, just like the Aventador and other supercars the Hellcat can outrun, one can argue that the Viper is a totally different vehicle being so much lighter and more aerodynamic. Speaking of which, the Hellcat is super-weight heavy. Its 2018 kg curb weight can easily lift the 1680 kg Ford Mustang GT without breaking a sweat.
So I'm not surprised at all when the Hellcat can only produce a 0-60 mph in the "low 3-second range" as claimed by the manufacturer during performance testing by AJAC members at testfest. On the contrary, we were shocked when the best 0 to 100 km/h time the Hellcat could achieve was a pedestrian-slow 5.2 seconds. Yes, the Mustang GT didn't do well either clocking an embarassing 6.2. However, using the same techniques, the same hellish face behind the wheel and the same track, the sidelined Volvo V60 Polestar was just shy of the Hellcat by only 0.1 second, food for thought. Click here for "Testfest Performance Data".
Started out as a 2008 model, the Challenger was desperate for a change or at least a major refresh. If the new front, split taillights and the SRT's (392 and Hellcat) aluminum power bulge hoods do not impress, wait until you hop inside. The redesigned interior is a neptunal improvement over the Chrysler 300 sedan-like of old. It even bears some resemblance to the Viper and most importantly, turning it into a real driver's car. The controls are well placed, the infotainment system is intuitive, and all interior aspects are curved towards the driver's side for easy access. Though refinement has been stepped up a notch, mechanical changes are few. An eight-speed automatic replaces the slow-shifting five-speed, and the hydraulic is replaced by electric power steering.
There's also a basket of "tricks AND treats" on this car like the driver's side inboard headlamp that is actually an air intake catcher, customizable performance displays including launch control, lap timers and g-force gauges. Speaking of launch mode, the Hellcat comes with two different key fobs similar to the Mustang BOSS 302. While you wouldn't want to part away with the red one, be at ease with the black key fob knowing that your toy will distinguish who's behind the wheel by forbidding launch mode as well as limiting output to around 500 hp. Shenanigans beware.
With a clutch requiring the might of Hercules, don't be surprised if your valet throws the key back at you. With the clutch engaged, the similarly heavy manual shifter was very precise and manageable. Unfortunately, there's no eight-speed automatic for us to sample and unless you are on a protein-whey diet, you will not regret ticking the auto-box option.
An explosive car demands explosive action and it's here where the fun starts. A slight dab on the throttle immediately lunges the car forward, smoke billowing out from the rear tires and a grin as wide as a Glasgow smile all over my face. And this thing is LOUD! By all accounts, the Joker seems much more tame in comparison. Considering how it throws all its 707 horses and 650 lb-ft of torque onto its rear wheels, traction is remarkable though not exactly confidence-inspiring. Having said that, I have never driven a car this heavy with so much grip turn-in and turn-out, but then the combination of six-piston Brembo calipers and Pirelli P Zero Neros (Front: 275/40ZR 20; Rear: 275/40ZR 20) are nothing to sneeze at.
Despite having the most powerful engine under $100,000, the Challenger Hellcat may not be the fastest car in the lot but it proves it can stand on the same pedestal as supercars costing dozens more. Nevertheless, with its seismic V8 power, the Hellcat is one pony that no one will pick a quarrel with. The muscle car race has now been reset.
型号 Model: 2015 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat
廠方建議售價 Base Price: $63,995
試車售價 Price as Tested: $67,590
軸距 Wheelbase (mm): 2951
長闊 Length (mm): 5018
車重 Curb weight (kg): 2018
引擎 Engine: Supercharged HEMI V8, 6166cc
最大馬力 Horsepower: 707 hp @ 6000 rpm
最高扭力 Torque: 650 lb-ft @ 4000 rpm
波箱 Transmission: 6-MT
擺佈 Engine & Drive Configuration: Front engine, RWD
前懸 Suspension-Front: Independant SLA, coil spring over Bilstein shocks and 34mm stabilizer bar, lateral and diagonal lower links
後懸 Suspension-Rear: 5-link independent, coil springs, 22mm solid stabilizer bar, Bilstein shocks and isolated suspension cradle
煞制-前 Brakes-Front: Brembo - Rotors 15.4 x 1.34-inch(390mm x 34.0mm) 2-piece aluminum, vented, Calipers 1.42-inch (36mm) 6-piston.
煞制-後 Brakes-Rear: Brembo - Rotors -13.8 x 1.10 (350 x 28) vented, Calipers - 1.26 (32mm) 4-piston
油耗 Fuel Consumption (City/Highway/Combined)- L/100 km: 18.1 / 11.4 / 15.1
輪胎尺碼 Tires: Pirelli 275/40ZR20 PZero Nero All-season performance