Hellcat? Hell yes!
Words by: Adam Allen
Just look at this car! It’s a seething, angry looking thing.
Feast your eyes on one of very few cars that manage to look this pissed off without seeming contrived. A good amount of credit for this visual malevolence must go to the Widebody treatment that all Charger Hellcats get and we’d imagine that precisely no one will pine for the regular body style that used to be available. Along with the gorgeous swollen fenders and menacing sneer up front with its ‘mailbox’ intake are massive 305-section tires at all four corners. Park any contemporary sports sedan alongside the Hellcat and they seem petulant and weak.
The numbers on this car still slacken jaws years later.
Six years after FCA unleashed the Hellcat models, the technical data for these cars is still monumental. Let’s review: It still packs 707 horsepower and 650 pounds feet of torque, all supported by a full factory warranty. It still costs less than $100 grand. It does 0-100km/h in less than four seconds and if you have the room (and the guts) to keep your foot pinned to the firewall it will reach a terminal velocity of 320 km/h. The throttle on this car is not merely just a pedal but rather a fuse on a volatile explosive device. If you don’t exercise caution, you’ll send a bomb to the rear axle the likes of which will effortlessly overwhelm the huge Pirelli tires. All this is accompanied by a soundtrack that is classic Detroit basso profundo overlaid with supercharger shriek that sounds like Zeus’s own dentist drill. It still remains one of the most incredible automotive experiences around. You have likely heard the familiar refrain from us that whatever we’re driving ‘could use more power’. Not in this case, folks.
Tell us more about all the connectivity features and driver assistance technology.
If you clicked on this review thinking you were going to get a deep dive into how many USB ports are on board and how well the blind spot warning systems work, we’re afraid you have come to the wrong place. To be sure, the Charger SRT does have an interior and it is packed with all the features you could want. The aircon blows ice cold on hot days and the Uconnect infotainment system is as stellar as always. It is comfortable and there’s tons of room for your passengers and their stuff. We think it’s unjust to talk about the quality of plastics and cupholder count when recounting what makes this such an awe inspiring car. Instead, we’re going to focus on what makes this car so special. It’s our sacred duty to do so, as we have a feeling that cars this bonkers are not going to be around forever.
Might was well get to the good stuff.
Before we delve into what makes the Charger Hellcat so maniacal, we need to give Dodge props on the engine bay. No, not because they installed a 700-plus horsepower pseudo nuclear reactor between the shock towers, but because they made it beautiful to look at. Check it out in the gallery below- the retro orange painted valve covers from the 426 Hemi days, the fact that hoses and clamps are kept carefully hidden so as not to spoil the view and the massive supercharger sitting atop of it all, complete with the Hellcat logo. Dodge knew that this car would be spending way more time with its hood popped than your average car, and we say thank you for making it a pleasure to raise the hood anytime you’re parked in the vicinity of a captivated audience. Which should be often, because they will hear you coming before you arrive, the 6.2 litre supercharged mill making pleasing, classic V8 noise when the engine is loafing along, turning to a bellicose bawl accompanied by that supercharger shriek once you get your foot into it. Driven this way, there will likely be a cloud of tire smoke in your midst, as even with the massive 305 section rollers the Hellcat still vaporizes tires as easily as your neighbor’s crossover accepts a load from the grocery store. It comes equipped with a Line Lock feature, but you really don’t need to use it- even with traction control on this car is never far from a drift or a burnout. By now everyone knows the Charger Hellcat comes with two keys, a red one and a black one. The black one is what you might lend to a friend should they ever want to take your car for a spin, limiting them to a ‘paltry’ 500 horsepower. The red key makes all 707 ponies available, and you might expect some theatrics once you fire it up. You wait for pyrotechnics overlaid with a rockin’ soundtrack that ultimately never materializes- something to reward you for your bravery, perhaps. Instead, there’s a small message in the instrument panel that confirms you have the red key on board, and that’s it. That you can use the red key each and every time you head out in the Charger is another nod of appreciation to the Dodge engineers who worked on this car, making it surprisingly usable and approachable despite the staggering output.
It won’t shock anyone that the Charger Hellcat is capable of eye widening speeds, provided you can get the power to the ground. What we didn’t expect is how positive an effect the Widebody treatment has on handling. Most of the credit should go to the much larger tires than the 275-section ones installed on lesser Hellcat models. Still, once you learn to trust the car, and figure out how to efficiently coax its prodigious weight into a corner, it is great fun. Most people will be surprised at just how well the Charger can dance if they can ever get over the chain of events that unfolds once they mat the throttle.
Despite our breathless ranting about the Charger Hellcat’s performance, there is one other remarkable achievement that we need to celebrate by telling you about it. That is, the fact that a car with this much power- and don’t forget, one that’s fully backed by a factory warranty- feels normal. You keep expecting some ugly compromise to rear its head, like an engine that overheats puttering around town, brutal suspension tuning, or maybe even something that has the drivability of a Top Fuel dragster- fine when you’re pinning the throttle for short amounts of time, not so much everywhere else. The engineers employed by Dodge really earned their keep, for they have managed an amazing achievement- they have built a car that has eye widening numbers and performance but managed to offer it in a car that can do anything you ask of it, no matter the conditions. That in of itself might be even more impressive than the spec sheet.
What might go wrong?
Dodge can ask for the keys back, we guess? That was the only thing about driving the Charger Hellcat that truly irked us. But alas, all good things must come to an end, so we cast our critical eyes towards the car trying to find stuff to complain about. The reverse camera is not great and has poor resolution. Yes, that’s all we could come up with. Happy? Oh, there are those that say the interior could be a little nicer, that it swills fuel with abandon and that at ninety nine grand you could buy three base Charger SXT trimmed models. But those people ought to get perspective and realize that it’s darn near impossible to not like a 707 horsepower family sedan; to them we say Deal With It.
Should I buy a Charger Hellcat Widebody?
Of course you should, silly! Haven’t you been paying attention? This is a truly epic car and If you choose not to buy one you’ll be looking out your window one dreary day 20 years into the future, unable to move, paralyzed with regret. OK, so that’s a but melodramatic, and if your vehicle needs involve things like carpooling you probably should pass on the Hellcat (although it could rise to the occasion even doing mundane stuff just like that.) The proudly-built-in-Brampton Charger is proof that many of life’s problems can be solved by horsepower. Let’s face it, 2020 has given us lemons more than it has given us lemonade, so let us offer the perspective that a smile generator- er, sorry, car- is very much appropriate for the extraordinary times of living in the middle of a global pandemic. Some people will choose to upgrade their landscaping, but don’t be predictable like them- get a Hellcat!
2020 Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat Widebody– Specifications
- Price as tested: $99,155
- Body Type: 4-door, 5 passenger sedan
- Powertrain Layout: Front engine/rear-wheel drive
- Engine: 6.2-litre supercharged V8, OHV, 16 valves
- Horsepower: 707@ 6,000 rpm
- Torque (lb-ft): 650 @ 4,800 rpm
- Transmission: 8-speed automatic
- Curb weight: 2,098 kg (4,626 lbs)
- Fuel consumption: 14.2/100km (17 mpg)