Words: Calvin Chan
Photography: Calvin Chan
Published: August 3, 2016
With four unique engines and eight different trims to choose from, it can be hard to decipher the veil behind the Challenger spec sheet. How do you go about choosing a Challenger, and should you even bother? There are certainly other muscle cars on the market like the new Chevrolet Camaro and Ford Mustang that undeniably offer better handling, faster track times, and modern conveniences. So other than its menacing street presence and straight-line rubber burning antics, what makes the Challenger so appealing?
There’s a certain charm to this pony car icon, and certainly not everyone will appreciate it. Brawny, ancient, and cubic were words that were spat at me as I chatted with fellow motoring enthusiasts. These people obviously don’t understand. In my vocabulary, I would replace them with muscular, quick, and powerful. Blindspots may be terrible, outward visibility may be atrocious, and fuel economy may doom your savings account, but this muscle car exudes such character and poise. You see, even though a base Challenger SXT and a top of the line Challenger SRT Hellcat share many of the same exterior features, it all comes down to what is lurking under the hood.
There are four engines to choose from, each with its own charisma and attitude. Starting from the bottom of the ladder is the 3.6-litre V6 ($31,795), which is mainly geared towards those seeking a muscle car bargain. Oh, and rental fleets. They sure love those V6s. In my opinion, no muscle car should have anything less than six cylinders, albeit the new Camaro does make a pretty compelling case for itself.
Though the Challenger’s V6 output of 305 hp and 268 lb-ft sounds attractive, I would invest a little more money for the R/T trim ($39,895). Move up here and you're starting to get into the big numbers: 375 hp and 410 lb-ft. It makes one hell of a raucous exhaust note too. Power hungry and gas thirsty, this potent V8 should be the bare minimum any Challenger enthusiast should strive towards.
And if that isn’t enough to quench your thirst, crawl up the ranks and you’ll find the Scat Pack ($51,185), the SRT 392 that is pictured above ($57,495), and the range topping SRT Hellcat ($76,445), the latter of which anybody would be lucky enough to snatch for sticker price. Good luck finding one that hasn’t been inflated to at least $90,000.
But for most buyers looking around the $45-55,000 range, the biggest dilemma is choosing between the R/T Scat Pack and SRT 392 trims. Under the hood of both is a 6.4-litre fire breathing V8. Not even the Hellcat’s 6.2-litre supercharged V8 can trump its displacement, which is already more than two BMW M3 engines combined. And if you were curious, 6.4 litres equals 392 cubic inches.
Naturally aspirated and naturally born to kick ass, this tree-eating V8 delivers 485 horsepower and 475 lb-ft of torque to the rear wheels via a Tremec 6-speed manual ($1,000) similar to the one used in the SRT Viper. Even a chainsaw that dedicated its life to tearing down forests would look like a economical hero compared to this thirsty sucker.
Of course, an 8-speed automatic is available and may actually be my personal preference. Not only is it smoother but it also shifts quicker, is more eco-friendly, doesn’t cost extra money, and eases the load off this incredibly heavy clutch.
In typical muscle car fashion, the Scat Pack and SRT 392 devour straight lines and even cleverly comes with their own launch control feature. The exhaust makes similar noises to the Camaro SS, which is heavy praise on its own. So if the engine in the R/T Scat Pack and SRT 392 are exactly the same, what justifies the SRT 392’s $6,310 premium?
The differences are difficult to spot because almost all of the upgrades are mechanical and not cosmetic. To most people that buy a muscle car purely for looks and sound, the SRT 392 is incredibly hard to rationalize. To put plainly, the SRT 392 is the closest thing to a Hellcat besides, well the Hellcat. Let me explain.
You see, the SRT 392 receives an adaptive suspension just like the one in the Hellcat with three modes of adjustment: Street, Sport, and Track. The SRT 392 also gets wider tires (275/40ZR20) and spoke designs from the Hellcat, compared to the Scat Pack’s (245/45ZR20). Furthermore, the SRT 392 receives the same functional hood scoop, a full Laguna leather interior (which is the closest thing to a sofa chair inside any automobile), larger six-piston Brembo brakes compared to the Scat Pack’s four pistons, and an 18-speaker Harmon Kardon sound system, again, all straight from the Hellcat. In fact, the only things that the SRT 392 lacks from being a qualified hell kitty is that infernal 6.2-litre supercharged V8, hydraulic steering, a beefier suspension, and 707 horsepower.
If you’re planning on taking this pony car to the track, then the SRT 392 trim is a no brainer. It’s massive brakes, adaptive suspension, and wider tires will keep the Challenger planted and flat around bends, contributing to faster lap times and easier overtakes. Though its porky 1,940 kg curbweight makes it feel incredibly lofty around the bends, taking a slow-in and fast-out approach works wonders to keep the Challenger leveled and balanced. However, out on the open road, these “modest” upgrades will go unnoticed to most average drivers, making the Scat Pack the more prudent choice.
Of course, those comparing the Challenger directly to the new and agile Ford Mustang or Chevrolet Camaro will be quite disappointed by the way it behaves. Whereas Dodge’s rivals have all ditched the old school formula in favour of lighter suspensions and more nimble platforms, the Challenger stays true to its roots and delivers a challenging, unweighty, yet pure muscle car experience. The SRT 392 may not be the fastest around the ring, but it certainly has the most presence. People don’t buy a Challenger because it’s a smart buy; rather they buy a Challenger because it’s an emotional buy. It is an enthusiast’s dream.
Now, back to the question: which Challenger do you choose? The obvious answer would be the SRT Hellcat, but not all of us have that kind of cash lying around, nor are we lucky enough to even find one on the market for a reasonable price. So for those looking for the best bang for your buck, look for an R/T Shaker with that lovely soul-sucking 5.7-litre V8 lodged underneath that beautiful Shaker hood that vibrates with every prod of the throttle. But if you’re looking for a compromise because you just aren’t lucky enough to snatch a Hellcat, then the unfiltered and bashful SRT 392 might just tie you over until a used demonic kitty creeps up into the used market.
型号 Model: 2016 Dodge Challenger SRT 392
顏色 Paint Type: Go Mango
廠方建議售價 Base Price: $57,495
試車售價 Price as Tested: $60,465
軸距 Wheelbase(mm): 2,950
長闊 Length/Width/Height (mm): 5,028 / 1,923 / 1,419
車重 Curb weight (kg): 1,940
引擎 Engine: 6.4-litre HEMI V8
最大馬力 Horsepower: 485 hp @ 6,000 rpm
最高扭力 Torque: 475 lb-ft @ 4,200 rpm
波箱 Transmission: 6-speed manual
擺佈 Engine & Drive Configuration: Front engine, RWD
油耗 Fuel Consumption ( City / Highway / Combined ) L/100km: 16.8 / 10.4 / 13.4
油耗 Observed Fuel Consumption (L/100km): 17.1
輪胎尺碼 Tires: Pirelli P Zero; 275/40ZR20