Sometimes overshadowed by the muscle car war between the Chevy Camaro and Ford Mustang, the Dodge Challenger is another legacy car with history stretching back toward the heyday of American muscle. The all-new 2015 Challenger SRT Hellcat adds an exciting new chapter to that history, hitting the highways as Dodge's most powerful muscle car ever.
We're not sure that we can accept Dodge's unrestricted claim of most powerful muscle car ever without some type of "factory produced" qualifier, what with 952-hp Shelby Mustangs roaming the Earth, but a 707-hp Challenger is an exciting development nonetheless. The 6.2-liter Hellcat V8 powering the car is the most powerful Dodge V8 ever and the first HEMI to make use of a factory-installed supercharger.
Dodge first revealed the 2015 Challenger SRT and SRT Hellcat in May. At the time, it said that the Hellcat would carry its most powerful V8 ever, but it limited its horsepower estimate to "600 plus." The 707 makes for a big dose of "plus," pushing the Hellcat right over the 640-hp Viper V10 and even the Viper GT3-R race car (680 hp). While it's not quite as powerful as special packages like the aforementioned Mustang 1000 and the GT500 Super Snake by Shelby, it easily bests the 662-hp Mustang Shelby GT500 and 580-hp Camaro ZL1 flagships offered directly from Ford and Chevy.
Dodge reckons that the new Hellcat has so much power that it requires two keys. The black key fob limits the driver to "just" 500 ponies, while the red key unleashes the full stable. We'd say that's a nice feature for a dad handing the keys over to his son on a Friday night, but we're pretty sure most dads don't want junior trying to rein in a 500-horse stampede. Dad might want to punch in his PIN and activate valet mode, which limits engine output, alters transmission settings and makes other drive alterations to cut the fun out of joyriding.
The big, grumbling HEMI V8 handles its 650 lb-ft of torque with help from the buyer's choice of a Tremec TR6060 six-speed manual or a new TorqueFlight eight-speed automatic. Drivers can tune the ride by way of sport, track and default driving modes, tweaking it even more with a personalized "custom" mode option.
The hard edges and boxy shape of modern-day muscle cars like the Challenger keep them from being poster children for aerodynamics, but Dodge and SRT designers did spend a lot of time in the wind tunnel optimizing the 2015 Challenger's form. The Hellcat includes a large front splitter increasing downforce, aero-optimized side sills and a tall rear spoiler. Its lightweight aluminum power-bulge hood has an intake and dual air extractors.
The Challenger SRT Hellcat comes standard on "Slingshot" split-seven spoke 20 x 9.5-in forged-aluminum wheels. Those wheels are wrapped neatly in P275/40ZR20 Pirelli P Zero Nero tires that come screeching to a stop behind a high-performance braking system with all-new 390-mm Brembo rotors and six-piston calipers up front.
Inside, the Challenger SRT Hellcat is outfitted with a fully modern cockpit touched up with elements inspired by the 1971 Challenger. Smack in front of the driver, a 7-in driver information display offers a customizable read-out. That display is flanked by throwback analog gauges that tie the look into the 1971 car. To the driver's right, an 8.4-in Uconnect touchscreen keeps them connected from the center stack. Leather-wrapped surfaces and aluminum trim finish off the look.
Dodge will manufacture the 2015 Challenger SRT Hellcat at its Brampton, Ontario plant, getting it into dealerships the third quarter of this year. It has yet to release pricing.
The news of the Hellcat's 707-hp rating comes just after Dodge's July 1 centenary anniversary celebration. Not all that long ago, Dodge looked like it might not make it very far past its 100th. After losing its truck line to Ram and its Viper halo to SRT, it seemed like it was being stripped of product and possibly prepped to become the next extinct American auto brand. But with its recent consolidation with SRT, revamped focus on performance, and exciting products like the Hellcat on offer, Dodge appears fully energized and ready for the next 100.
As fun as the Hellcat is to chat about, it's even more fun to watch. Check it out in the new video below.