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Dodge's 2015 Challenger Hellcat is hell on wheels and drag strip ready

The Hellcat looks hot fore and aft
The Hellcat looks hot fore and aft
courtesy of Dodge

Not to be outdone by Chevy’s hot Camaro or Ford’s Shelby Cobra Mustang, Dodge has unleashed their hotter version in the form of the 2015 Dodge Challenger SRT with a whopping 707-hp.

This Challenger Hellcat blasts off the starting line with tires smoking
Courtesy of Dodge

The basis for all this tire burning, push you back in the seat grunt comes from a race inspired 6.2L HEMI Hellcat V8 engine. Dodge couples this powerhouse to an 8-speed TorqueFlite automatic transmission.

Back in the 60s I had my first ride in a Dodge HEMI power Polaris coupe with TorqueFlite. Nate Berk, co-owner of Berk Motor in West Catasauqua, a small at the time Dodge dealer, got a HEMI powered Polaris coupe as his personal ride. Being a teenaged car buff, I hung out there on occasion and when his turquoise coupe with white and turquoise leather interior arrived, I begged for a ride.

Back then Grape Street in Fullerton had few homes but expanses of cornfields across from Braden Field, which was home to the Allentown Cardinals baseball farm team. So, from a standing stop at about 5th Street westward and in low gear, Nate tramped the accelerator which pushed us back into the supportive bucket seats while the HEMI engine treated us to a sweet roar.

But the real excitement came when Nate pushed the second gear button on the dash (the buttons were arranged vertically). In that instant the tires screamed, the back end tried hard to come around while a simultaneous loud thunk emanated from the undercarriage. He punched third gear and we enjoyed the same exciting sensations. Back then Whitehall Police had only two police cars during those 60s times, so we were safe from a speeding ticket.

Returning on the same road I could see the black rubber marks on the street where Nate had shifted from first to second and second to third. This was an amazing automatic transmission to take all that torque and power.

So much for nostalgia. Back to the Challenger.

The 6.2L is the most powerful V8 muscle car Chrysler has ever produced. It will be available with either a 6-speed manual trans, or 8-speed TorqueFlite (You know which one I’d pick). And it will be have the first application of a supercharger.

This engine, with Air Catcher Ram Air inlet port, was beefed-up to withstand the tremendous torque by the use of a forged-steel crankshaft with induction-hardened bearing surfaces. The crank, says Chrysler, can withstand firing pressures of 1595 psi, the equivalent of five family sedans standing on each piston every two revolutions. Its uniquely tuned crank damper has been tested to 13,000 rpm. This, along with forged alloy pistons, have diamond-like carbon-coated piston pins.

But get this. The all-new Challenger SRT with Hellcat engine comes with red and black key fobs. The red fob is the only key that can unlock the full 707-hp and torque of the Hellcat engine, while the black fob limits the driver to reduced engine output of 500-hp (the only key you give to valet services - although there is a specific Valet Mode).
In addition, the Challenger SRT offers all-new Drive Modes of Sport, Track, Default and Custom. Each mode tailors and controls horsepower, transmission shift speeds, steering, paddle shifters (on auto trans only), traction and suspension. The modes are configured for Sport, Track and Default settings while the Custom setting lets the driver customize the driving experience to their preferential settings.

The Drive Mode is controlled through the Uconnect system by pushing the SRT button, selecting Drive Modes from the SRT & Apps menu, then selecting Drive Modes from the Performance Pages menu. Damn electronics! Why can’t there just be a rotary switch?

As on the 2014 Corvette and Mustang Shelby, the SRT will have Launch Control that allows quick acceleration. With the car in Drive, the driver merely engages the Launch button on the center stack, keeps his/her left foot hard on the brake pedal, then floors the accelerator, and within 5 seconds, releases the brake upon which the car blasts off the line with smoking tires.

The Challenger Hellcat will also offer a driver-focused cockpit designed for true performance enthusiasts with racy interior and the latest electronic technology including an 8.4-inch touchscreen for audio, GPS nav and other driver inputs.

The Challenger Hellcat will be appearing in dealer’s showrooms in the third quarter of 2014.