Written by: Calvin Chan
Photography by: Don Cheng
To the maternal eye, the Charger SRT Hellcat is just another four-door family sedan with the functionality and practicality of a Honda Accord. “Hey didn’t we rent this same one last year in Hawaii?” they might ask. To the enthusiast’s eye, it is the holy grail of muscle cars. This is the 2015 Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat, a potent chemical mixture of supercharger wails, insane power figures, a lack of tire tread, and a “my-appendage-is-bigger-than-yours” driver mentality.
And that last part is especially true; the brakes on the Hellcat are huge. They’re the largest ever used in a Dodge vehicle, but more on that later. One question we want to address is how usable the Charger SRT Hellcat is on your everyday roads, and if it’s just as comfortable and sensible as the base Charger SXT V6 that we tested a few weeks back. Let’s go for a ride.
The main difference between the Charger SRT Hellcat and rest of the Charger trims down the ladder is the engine. Whilst it’s smaller siblings make use of similar V6 and V8 engines, the Hellcat adopts a newly developed 6.2L HEMI V8 with a supercharger on top that produces 707 horsepower and 650 lb-ft of torque. Let’s hold up for a moment and put this staggering horsepower figure into relative context.
Cast your M cars aside and your AMG marvels – those mischievous monkeys don’t even come close to the Hellcat’s horsepower rating. This family hauler sits high up in the food chain with exotics costing triple, even quadruple its MSRP. To get that amount of horsepower you’d be cross shopping with a Lamborghini Aventador (691-hp) and a Ferrari F12 Berlinetta (730-hp).
To handle all that maniacal output, Dodge had to make the engine exceedingly durable. They also needed a transmission that wouldn’t explode into oblivion every time you use launch control. Well it seems like they’ve worked out the kinks in the armour. Dodge says the new Hellcat engine is so robust that it can withstand firing pressures up to 1595 psi of pressure every two revolutions.
In layman terms, that’s like putting four Range Rovers on each piston and telling the engine to start churning. Check the speedometer and it even maxes out a batshit insane 340 km/h. Do you know what it feels like to be driving that fast? Because we certainly don’t, and don’t try to tell me that a commercial Boeing airplane goes faster – that’s cheating.
The transmission is quite a marvel in its own rights. The Hellcat receives a similar 8-speed automatic that the base Chargers also adopt, but this one has been tuned for high performance. I’m actually impressed with how it manages all the torque. You’ll still feel a slight whiplash under hard acceleration but the transitions between gears feel controlled and contained. There are eight cogs to choose from but third gear is the sweet spot of power and efficiency.
Don’t bother using the paddle shifters either – they’re slow and cumbersome. Better to leave it in automatic and let the tranny do the heavy lifting for you. Enthusiasts will sigh when they hear that the Charger Hellcat has no six-speed manual option like it’s Hellcat brother, the Challenger. But in this case, even if there was one, I’d opt for the automatic. The latter is more fuel efficient, it's got more gears, and there's one less pedal for me to worry about while I focus on keeping the wheels from spinning.
The noise emitted from the Hellcat is the main spectacle. YouTube and Vine videos don’t do it any justice whatsoever. This is an exhaust note you have to experience in person to fully appreciate the sonic wonders. The ignition startup is like the Devil’s alarm clock, followed by a deep growl at engine idle. Slap the T-shifter into first gear and start mashing the throttle – this is where it gets fascinating.
First, you’ll hear the traditional and unapologetic V8 roar bellowing behind you, but the Hellcat engine adds on another musical layer with the high-pitched wail from the supercharger. To be honest it sounds like a dying animal, but it turns into a regrettably guilty pleasure. While the right side of my brain is busy penny pinching about my next gas bill, my left side tells me that these grins and smiles are priceless.
The temptation to hammer the throttle is to infinity and beyond, followed by the urge, the sense of adventure, and soon the feeling of uncertainty that catches up to you. Note to self: keep the traction control on. Do I think I’m a good driver? Sure, but would I be able to adeptly control a 707-horsepower rear-wheel drive sedan without some form of driver assist? Probably not. The Hellcat boasts a savage and unforgiving powertrain; too much throttle and the rear will spin out of control.
Yet, we’ve sorta’ got it worked out. A smooth throttle application to the halfway point in second gear will net you the most traction without wheel spin. Anything past that pedal mark merits a degree in tarmac vandalism and burnt rubber aromatics. Frankly, all those insane performance numbers that Dodge boasts about is hardly usable on commuter streets. The power is there for attendance but it’s difficult to find a road in Toronto for the Hellcat to fully stretch its legs.
Dodge claims that the Charger SRT Hellcat is the quickest, fastest and most powerful production sedan in the world. I believe them but it’s floating in irony when you realize there’s an ECO mode. The bizarre aspect is that I found this mode to be the most comfortable and pragmatic driver setting. Can the Charger Hellcat be used as a daily driver? Hell yes! But only in ECO mode. The V8 feels tamer, the power delivery becomes softer, more linear, and it transforms the Hellcat into quite a relaxing and serene muscle car - it behaves like a smaller HEMI engine with more traction and attainable limits. The Hellcat in SPORT or TRACK mode feels like it wants to kill you but in ECO mode, it wants to be friends with you, caress you and offer you a chance to explore the latter half of that gas pedal.
I’m pleased to report that the Brembo brakes that come standard on the Hellcat are ridiculously strong (phew). They have an insane amount of bite and tremendous stopping power with minimal, yet malleable pedal travel. As mentioned at the beginning of this review, these are the largest brakes that FCA has ever put into any production car, Viper included. 15.4-inch rotors at the front and 13.8-inches at the back. I guess with all that power, it’s nice to have some sort of contingency plan.
You should also see the look on people’s faces when I tell them that the Hellcat is offered with two keyfobs: a red and a black one. Does this remind you of the last-generation Mustang Boss 302? It’s the same situation here. The red keyfob is the testosterone – it unlocks all 707 horsepower.
The black keyfob on the other hand, which we kept at home and coined it the “wifey” or “estrogen” key, limits the horsepower output to 500 horses, which doesn’t really make sense to me. If the black key is for your irresponsible children or heavy-footed wife, and if you don’t believe they could handle 707 horsepower, what makes you think they could make do with 500? They should’ve capped it at 300 or less. That would have made more sense! Now you might be thinking, wait, what if both keys are in the car? The red key will actually override the black key, so you can keep both in your pocket.
Ah, the fuel consumption. Here we are laughing our way to the gas station. The funny thing is that our initial fuel consumption reading was stuck at 25.0 L/100km. No matter how hard I drove, the number didn’t budge. I thought it was broken until I started to drive a little more “economically”. Lo and behold, the number started to drop: 24, 23, 22. Turns out that 25.0 L/100km was actually the capped limit shown on the gauges. My heart sank a little bit. Who knows, I could have been doing 99.9 L/100km. SRT engineers probably sat there and thought “Hmm, we might as well make them feel better about themselves and cap it at 25. They’ll be guilt-free for a few hours until they realize that half their fuel tank has dried up.”
I’ll run through our obtained data real quick: in the city we averaged 20.8 L/100km, highway we got 13.6 L/100km, and a mix of both was 18.1 L/100km. What did you expect? This ain’t no Tesla. Two days of hotheaded driving lasted us around half a tank. Filling up the Hellcat’s 70-litre tank with 91-octane fuel will set you back around $100.
It’s not easy to tell the difference between a Charger SRT 392 and the SRT Hellcat, Dodge made sure of that. A quick Hellcat spotter’s guide: dual air extractions on the front hood, large air intakes that replace the SRT 392’s lower front fog lamps, matte-black wheels instead of the shiny silver ones in the SRT 392, and the conspicuous Hellcat badges on the front fenders. Only four giveaways, and that’s not including the distinct whine from the supercharger (you can hear it from a mile away). Dodge didn’t even bother with a Hellcat badge on the rear trunk panel – only a “Charger” and an “SRT” badge find residence there.
The back looks fairly conservative too. The Hellcat adorns the same taillights as the base Charger, there are still only two exhausts, and the subtle body-coloured spoiler doesn’t shout in your face the way an STI does. I admire that, and so will buyers that appreciate a bit of modesty and humility on the road (ironic, I know).
The Granite Crystal Metallic paint our Hellcat tester is wearing bears a sinister look, though it lands on the conservative side through our eyes. There are certainly brighter colours you could have chosen if you desire the attention whoring: baby blue, bright red, but no neon green unfortunately – that’s a Challenger-only colour.
Decorated with fancy titles or not, the Charger Hellcat is still your conventional five-passenger hauler, which isn’t a bad thing. Look behind the driver’s seat and you’ll find a massive rear passenger cabin. You could fit three of your steroid-buffed friends and all their hockey gear in the gargantuan trunk too. One complaint I did receive though was that they could feel the engine vibrating through the back seats like some sort of buttock massage.
But oh yes, these seats are very nice. They are layered with Nappa leather, Alcantara, and feature side bolsters that are very snug, miles better than those McDonalds super-sized seats found in the base Charger we tested a few weeks ago. I could slide around all day in those. In the Hellcat’s, I feel perched and balanced. Up front lies a thick and wide flat-bottomed steering wheel with all the buttons and paddle shifters you’d find in your regular Charger SXT. However, there are still cheap bits of material and loose panels floating around in the interior that will remind you that the Hellcat started off as an affordable family sedan.
I personally love FCA’s infotainment unit. It is uncommonly responsive, sensitive, and receptive to touch, making it one of the best I’ve used that doesn’t involve a rotary dial. Through the touch screen, you can control a multitude of options, from the HVAC controls to your phone connectivity. Most notable is the SRT Driving Apps. Displayed here are performance gauges (oil temp, boost, etc.), launch control features, and different ways to tailor your Hellcat. You can modify the amount of horsepower (500+ or 700+), the suspension, traction, paddle shifters, and transmission.
Prospective owners will be happy to hear that there has been no production limit on the Hellcats, making them less exclusive but more attainable. The bad news is that the current run is sold out. The Brampton factory can’t even keep up with the staggering amount of orders pouring onto their desks. That’s how desirable the Hellcat is.
Would I buy one? Of course. 707 horsepower for just over $70,000 is a deal that I cannot refuse. Would I use it everyday? That’s the true dilemma. It’s practical enough, it’s got an enormous trunk, and it can fit four of my buddies. But then again I’m spending more fuel to get from A to B than NASA spent on getting an astronaut to the moon. So the answer is no, I’d save it for special occasions and Sunday drives. That being said, the Hellcat becomes eerily comparable to a full-blown supercar, but hey, it’s better than not having one.
型号 Model: 2015 Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat
顏色 Paint Type: Granite Crystal Metallic ($195)
廠方建議售價 Base Price: $69,695
試車售價 Price as Tested: $70,840
軸距 Wheelbase(mm): 3,058
長闊 Length/Width/Height (mm): 5,100 / 1,905 / 1,480
車重 Curb weight (kg): 2,075
引擎 Engine: 6.2L Supercharged HEMI Hellcat V8
最大馬力 Horsepower: 707 hp @ 6,000 rpm
最高扭力 Torque: 650 lb-ft @ 4,800 rpm
波箱 Transmission: 8-speed TorqueFlite automatic
擺佈 Engine & Drive Configuration: Front engine, RWD
前懸 Suspension-Front: Independent SLA with high upper "A" arm, coil spring over gas-charged monotube shock absorbers and stabilizer bar
後懸 Suspension-Rear: Five-link independent with coil springs, gas-charged monotube shock absorbers, stabilizer bar and isolated suspension cradle
煞制-前 Brakes-Front: Brembo six-piston calipers (15.4 x 1.34 rotors - vented and slotted)
煞制-後 Brakes-Rear: Brembo four-piston calipers (13.8 x 1.10 rotors - vented and slotted)
油耗 Fuel Consumption (City/Highway)- L/100 km: 18.0 / 10.7
輪胎尺碼 Tires: P275/40ZR20 Pirelli P-Zero Nero