Words: Calvin Chan
Photography: Calvin Chan
Published: August 28, 2021
Whether you have got an aneurysm, popped an ophthalmic blood vessel, or are taking an overnight flight, red eyes are never a good sign. Rather an ominous one at that, a harbinger of things to come. But Dodge has something different in mind, and have instead used Redeye to represent their most powerful mass-production sedan. This is the Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat Redeye Widebody, and when you’re finished digesting the title that’s longer than Daenerys’ in Game of Thrones, you’ll get to the Redeye’s party piece, the one that will raise all the eyebrows in the room. It has 797 horsepower.
That’s not a number to take lightly. Ten years ago, 700 horses was almost unheard of, and even then it was normally reserved for legendary brands like McLaren or Ferrari. Now, a car with over 700 horsepower has got the same steering wheel and chassis as the sedans you would find at your local Hertz. It may be a Dodge but you should note that the Redeye will happily out-drag dedicated sports cars like the Porsche 911 Carrera S, and keep up with other performance sedans like the BMW M5 Competition (3.3 s) and Mercedes-AMG E 63 S (3.4 s). Epic burnouts are also on the menu.
For those keeping track, the 797-hp Redeye produces 90 hp more than the standard Hellcat, and will get the Redeye zipping from 0-100 km/h a few tenths quicker in a speedy 3.4 seconds. Torque has been raised from 650 lb-ft up to 707 lb-ft, and Dodge runs that prodigious output through a beefed up 8-speed automatic. To achieve those numbers, Dodge fitted a larger supercharger (2.7L versus 2.4L), increased the boost pressure from 11.6 psi to 14.5 psi, strengthened the connecting rods and pistons, raised the rpm limit from 6,200 rpm to 6,500 rpm, and added an extra fuel pump and a larger induction air box.
Dodge doesn’t even offer the non-Widebody Hellcat anymore. The Widebody kit flares out the wheel fenders outwards by 90 mm so that they could fit larger, wider, and meatier tires, 305/35 ZR 20-inch Pirelli P Zeros to be specific, with 20-inch wheels that are deeper dished than a Chicago pan pizza. They wrap around massive 15.4-inch front and 13.8-inch rear steel brake rotors, sandwiched by Brembo six-piston front and 4-piston rear calipers. A larger rubber contact patch means more grip. More grip means faster acceleration, better handling, and shorter braking distances. The Hellcat treatment further includes a three-mode Bilstein adaptive suspension setup, larger anti-roll bars, stiffer springs, a new electric power steering rack, and a unique front hood with dual vents for improved engine cooling.
Inside receives fewer accoutrements, and is the area that receives the most flak from most loyalists and journalists alike. It’s where you will be clearly reminded that the Hellcat comes from humble beginnings. With an almost impossibly large cabin, seats as large and cozy as your living room recliner, and plastic parts galore, the Charger remains as friendly and welcoming as your V6-powered SXT. Plastic instead of metal. Plastic instead of leather. And if you thought BMW wheels were overly thick, the Charger’s is even thicker. Those with small hands might have difficulty finding a decent grip and wrestling the wheel properly at speed. Which is not to say the Hellcat is void of any cabin pizzazz. The SRT badge on the airbag cover lights up at night, and there are a flurry of performance menus and screens for the avid dragster to dig into and customize the launch rpm, the choice of 500 or 797 horsepower, steering and suspension tune, and gearbox intensity. Just don’t expect similar levels of fit and finish or craftsmanship as your Audi or Mercedes.
So what’s it like to wrestle 797 horsepower through city streets confined by yellow markings, street limits, and the heightened awareness that a trigger foot will have you skipping GO and head right to jail? It’s actually easier to drive than you would think. Dodge has tuned the gas pedal to be incredibly linear and predictable, allowing you to be judicious with your inputs, and there’s no sudden leap from it being “on or off”. It’s gradual and the pedal resistance is heavy enough that you can fine tune the exact amount of throttle you want to apply. That gave us a huge amount of confidence to get the Hellcat doing exactly what we wanted, whether it’s getting the wheels chirping off the line or getting the tail to kick out momentarily mid-corner. Drive it carefully with 10% throttle and you can get this kitty purring around town with a not-too-bad fuel average of 15.6 L/100km.
The moment you explore the latter 90% of the gas pedal, you will begin to see why Dodge charges an arm and a leg. The powertrain is where all the money went, and the exorbitant sum was spent wisely. There’s so much torque, so much noise, and so much brute force that you start to wonder why anyone would need 797 horsepower. Thank goodness Dodge lets you detune that to just 500 horsepower via the SRT menus, right?
Wheel spin reigns supreme, and even with the wider track and thick tires, don’t even try to put the pedal to the metal unless there’s nothing within a ten-foot radius around you. Best to keep that traction control on - you’re going to need it unless your first name is Ken and your last name rhymes with sock.
It is fun. Perilously fun. The danger adds to the experience, and the Hellcat demands respect because of it. Not many cars command that type of driving experience these days, including the Hellcat’s direct competition from the M5 and E 63, both of which are so easy to drive thanks to modern traction and stability control systems, all-wheel drive, and sticky tires, that you don’t need to have skill to go fast. The Hellcat on the other hand will punish you dearly if you take a wrong step.
Would we buy one? Absolutely. Spending $110,000 for a family chariot with 800 stock horsepower is a steal, as long as you can overlook the more humble parts of the car such as the interior amenities and infotainment system. You’re basically paying Dodge to spice and tune up your hairy-chested Charger to ridiculous levels, to a state where it can talk the talk, but also walk the walk. With a V8 that can wake the dead, and the performance to keep up with the best, the Hellcat Redeye will ring true to loyal muscle car enthusiasts and also to those who want a pure, raw, and unforgiving driving experience that punishes the worst and rewards the best.
Model: 2021 Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat Redeye Widebody
Paint Type: Hellraisin
Base Price: $105,515
Price as Tested: $112,890
Engine: 6.2-litre supercharged V8
Horsepower: 797 hp
Torque: 707 lb-ft
Transmission: 8-speed automatic
Engine & Drive Configuration: Front engine, RWD
Fuel Consumption ( City / Highway / Combined ) L/100km: 19.0 / 11.5 / 15.6
Observed Fuel Consumption (L/100km): 15.8
Tires: 305/35ZR20; Pirelli P Zero