2015 Dodge Charger Hellcat

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I have been waiting for you…'15 Hellcat lead

It took 45 years, but the moment has finally arrived.

A real muscle car is once again available.

Scary. Dangerous – in the hands of a fool or a novice.

A car that’s got more engine than traction and you’d damned well better respect that.

707 supercharged horsepower through just two wheels (the rear wheels). Mid-high 11 second quarter-miles on tap. A Saturn V pointed horizontally – with air conditioning and license plates.

Delicious sick madness.

Dodge calls it the Hellcat – and it is a speed freak’s wet dream.

But – if you have the means – you’d better get one while you still can.

Before the insurance mafia realizes that horsepower has caught up with – and overwhelmed – tire technology. Just like back in the day, only at a much higher level of potential mayhem. It is inevitable that some termagant killjoy bureaucrat, politician – or “concerned mom” – asks why anyone needs a 707 hp 11 second/200 MPH car.'15 Hellcat burnout

Comparisons will be drawn between the Hellcat and “assault” rifles. You know the rest.

Carpe diem.

By the throat.

And this car is just the ticket for doing that.


Let’s pull no punches. The Hellcat is the most powerful car Chrysler has ever sold.

Period.'15 Hellcat composite

That includes the current Viper – which offers a miserly 645 hp (from an 8.4 liter V10) as well as legends from the past like the ’70 Charger Daytona/Superbird with the dual-quad (twin four-barrel carburetors) 426 Street Hemi V8.

There is nothing out there even in the same league. At least, nothing with four doors that doesn’t cost six-figures.

Just $62,295 to start – which is reasonable given what you’re getting. How much does a Nextel Cup car cost? But you will want to check with your insurance mafia representative before pulling the trigger as this thing is going to cost you unholy sums to coverhellcat engine

Though surprisingly, not so much to feed. The Hellcat’s gas mileage is not bad… for a Nextel Cup stocker with tags and AC.

Anyhow, this car is like the Liger – the one-off cross between a tiger and a lion (which is bigger than either). There is simply nothing else like it on the road.

And nothing that can touch it.

It’s terrifyingly magnificent, truly awesome – like witnessing a thermonuclear burst from just a bit too close.


The Charger that (like Bruce Banner and the Hulk) that serves as the groundwork for the Hellcat has been significantly updated both cosmetically and functionally for the new model year.

The Hellcat itself is new. The ultimate Charger.'15 Hellcat gauge detail

It is built around a supercharged version of the Hemi V8 that’s optional in the standard-issue Charger. Displacing 6.2 liters, it makes nearly twice the power (707 vs. 370) and turns a quick car into a supercar capable of mid-high 11 second quarter-mile passes at close to 130 MPH, with a top speed of more than 200 MPH.

An extremely beefed up version of the now-standard (in all Chargers) eight-speed automatic drives the rear wheels – making for sideways driving, as you like it. Or, engage the launch control to keep things somewhat civilized – if you can use that word to describe a car that can reach double the highest-legal speed limit in the United States in the time it takes a Prius to get from rest to 60.

WHAT’S GOOD'15 Hellcat inside 1

That they had the balls to build it.

That they have the nerve to sell it.

That you might be able to afford it.

Untouchable performance – with room for five.

If you missed the original muscle car era, relive it now.

WHAT’S NOT SO GOOD'15 Hellcat wheels detail

Driving this car on public roads is like having an all-day erection at the YMCA… if you’re not gay.

Mostly only older dudes will be able to afford this one. Especially the insurance on this one.

It can’t last. They are going to get wind of what’s up and pull the plug. This car is the equivalent of Elvis showing up at the White House in a purple cape holding a pair of loaded gold-plated .45 automatics … and demanding to see the president.


Regular V8 Chargers equipped with V8s come with 5.7 liters and 370 hp; the R/T ups that to 6.4 liters and 485 hp.

They are small fry. Weak sisters. Ho-hum.

Berkley (Mich.) – August 13, 2014 – Mark Rudisueli, head of SRT Engineering, unveiled the 2015 Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat today.  The Charger’s supercharged 6.2-liter HEMI® Hellcat engine produces 707 horsepower and delivers unrivaled four-door performance with a quarter mile elapsed time of 11.0 seconds on production tires.  Hellcat is the most powerful V-8 engine Chrysler has ever produced. The 2015 Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat will be built at the Brampton (Ont.) Assembly Plant in the first quarter 2015.
Berkley (Mich.) – August 13, 2014 – Mark Rudisueli, head of SRT Engineering, unveiled the 2015 Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat today. The Charger’s supercharged 6.2-liter HEMI® Hellcat engine produces 707 horsepower and delivers unrivaled four-door performance with a quarter mile elapsed time of 11.0 seconds on production tires. Hellcat is the most powerful V-8 engine Chrysler has ever produced. The 2015 Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat will be built at the Brampton (Ont.) Assembly Plant in the first quarter 2015.

Well, compared with what lies under the aluminum hood of the Hellcat. It is a slightly smaller (6.2 liter) version of the Hemi V8. But its effective displacement (in terms of airflow) has been increased by another 30-40 percent when the supercharger that’s perched in between those Hemi orange powder-coated valve covers compresses the incoming air charge to 9 PSI . Now you’re dealing with an engine that’s closer in real terms to a naturally-aspirated (non-supercharged) V8 of around 8 liters’ in size.

But even so, few of them make 707 hp.

Not even 8 liter V10s – as in the current Viper – make that kind of power.

Nothing does.

Well, nothing that’s not a Nextel Cup stocker. Tony Stewart’s car makes about 800 hp.

And it does not have AC.

It does idle like a tin can filled with loose nuts and bolts being shaken up and down. And will overheat if there’s not enough airflow over the radiator.

The Hellcat, in contrast, is remarkable as much for its vein-popping output as it is for its docility. The thing has a baritone rumble, but nothing even remotely indicative of what it’s capable of. My ’70s Trans-Am (with a 7.4 liter/455 cube V8) sounds much tougher, has a far more threatening idle.

But it would be the Hellcat’s bitch if it ever came down to it. The old 455 makes maybe half the power the Hellcat’s Hemi does – and it makes it on the ragged edge of street driveable. This is a metric of the changes the past 45 years have seen.

Gas mileage being another.'15Hellcat race options

The Hellcat is capable of 22 MPG on the highway. Astounding. This is nearly (within about 3-4 MPG) as economical as the Toyota Sienna minivan I drove (and reviewed) last week. And the Sienna cannot do 200 MPH. Or run an 11.8 second quarter-mile.

Nor get to 60 in the high threes.

The Hellcat can do all that.

A specially built version of the now-standard eight-speed automatic feeds the power to the rear wheels – which is truly sick, but in a good way.

If you like to fry tires, you will love the Hellcat.

Also, note the absence of an ugly plastic engine cover. This is an engine that’s not bashful.

ON THE ROAD2015 Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat

The old muscle cars were a handful with 350 or so SAE “gross” (read exaggerated) hp trying to connect with the pavement via 15×7 wheels and maybe 60-series tires. They’d get sideways with minimal provocation – and that was on dry roads. Teenagers crunched them up (along with themselves) like so many aluminum beer cans.

Which is part of the reason why they went away. Too much mayhem, too obviously seen. (GM’s PR people got in big trouble in the early ’70s with an ad that seemed to endorse street racing.)

Insurance quickly became unaffordable – unless you were rich (or old). Then gas prices went up, emissions regs. came down – and muscle cars (the real ones) went away.'15 Hellcat shifter detail

Fast forward 40 years.

We have arrived at an incredible nexus. The horsepower available today – as here – is beyond the ability of even 20 inch wheels shod with 275/40ZR20 Pirelli P Zero Nero tires to deal with. An original 426 Street Hemi (rated 426 hp) would probably have had trouble smearing the road with liquified asphalt if the ’70 Superbird it was in had the Hellcat’s rolling stock.

The Hellcat, meanwhile, can incinerate these tires at will. I mean vaporize them. Spit little chunks of atomized rubber like a truck tearing ass up a gravel road. Leave a tactical nuke-looking mushroom cloud – and twin stripes permanently etching your zig-zagging antics for posterity to view.

Ho-lee shit!'15 Hellcat LCD

I have been test-driving new cars for almost 25 years and nothing I have driven to date that’s not a race car or a heavily modified and not production car comes close to this. Not M5 BMWs or 911 turbos or Vipers. Not the ’95 Cobra R (last of the 351s) I took through the Baltimore Harbor Tunnel at 135 at two in the morning, the exhaust pulses of the 5.8 Windsor reverberating off the tile walls.

Punch (well, tap) the “SRT” button under the center stack LCD screen. Up comes the driver-configurable settings. Pick “Track” – if you’re brave. Everything goes red. Engage the Launch Control (“Steering wheel must be straight”) for the picture perfect quarter-mile blast. The computer will adjust everything – and take care of everything. Slippage is allowed – inevitable – but it’s kinda-sorta under control. The car stays in a semi-straight line until traction is fully established (not until third gear), supercharger howling gloriously, the vacuum-actuated “active” exhaust cut-outs dumping decibels and enough C02 from the oceans of fuel being consumed to heat the local area – if not the entire planet – by several degrees, at least.Mad Max

The beefed-up eight-speed throws down bracket race-firm shifts – firm enough to spin the tires (and fishtail the rear end) on the 1-2 and the 2-3 upshifts. You feel like a young Mel Gibson in full Mad Max mode, pointing your V8 Interceptor down Anarchy Lane.

Look out, Toecutter.

But as phenomenal as the Hellcat’s performance is, its relative docility is even more impressive. This car is 100 percent wife-drivable. A Nextel Cup stocker is only wife-drivable if your wife’s name is Danica.

Think about this.

A 707 hp street car that can be driven around like any other car. Take the kids to school, then drive it to work. Seriously. You could drive this thing cross country just as easily as a Camry (except for the gas bills). As a measure of how impressive all this is, consider that any ’60s or ’70s-era muscle car that could run a sub-12-second quarter-mile was not street-drivable.

The only way it was going cross-country was on a trailer.

AT THE CURB'15 Hellcat curb 1

The Charger version of the Hellcat would be my pick precisely because it is a Charger – and not a Challenger. If you’re going to drive a car packing 707 hp with the intention of using it, the smart move is a less noticeable wrapper. Like reading the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue in church. Slip it in between the pages of the good book, like Bill Clinton used to do.

The Charger Hellcat can blend in.

It has a few exterior giveaways: a mild body kit and air extractors on the hood and flanks, the Hellcat badges on either front fender. But from twenty yards out, it’s easily mistaken for – yawn – another Charger. If you’re out on the highway running 80 in a 70 in a pack of cars doing the same, your chances of not being the one selected to receive a piece of payin’ paper are much better than they would be if you were driving the Challenger coupe, which is a known offender.

The Challenger Hellcat can’t help standing out. Driving it is like driving any other out-of-the-closet muscle car.

It is the difference between getting away with it – and not.'15 Hellcat back seats

Plus, the Charger Hellcat’s uniqueness enhances its coolness.

How many four-doors are there out there packing more engine than a Viper or Corvette – or pretty much anything else, two-doors or otherwise? If you’re wanting a way to rationalize buying this car, consider it an investment. A future collectible. This is no joke, either. Remember the Ford SVT Lightning pick-up of the late ’90s/early 2000s? They’re worth big money today.

Tell the wife.

Or, point out that – unlike a Challenger (much less a Viper) you can take the kiddies to school in this thing – and take the whole family to visit the in-laws in Florida, too. The back seats (and back doors) make all that not just feasible but pleasant. This is a full-size sedan. With a nearly 17 cubic foot trunk and 40.1 inches of backseat legroom.

A Viper has no backseats at all.2015 Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat (shown in Ruby Red Alcantara sued

The Challenger does, but they’re not easy to get into – or out of – due to the lack of doors.

The Hellcat may be low-key on the outside, but inside, it is obvious something’s up. Blood orange suede door panel inserts and seat covers bring to mind the luridly obstreperous Chryslers of the past. Think Christine: Body by Plymouth, soul by Satan. You also get a a unique gauge package with 200 MPH speedometer recessed behind a carbon fiber surround and a scroll-through menu of secondary gauge options that display in the secondary LCD cluster to your right, in the center stack. You can dial up intake manifold temp, boost (also displayed in the main cluster), air-fuel ratio, horsepower and torque produced, G forces endured, lap time, 0-60, eighth and quarter mile time – and your reaction times.2015 Dodge Challenger SRT with the HEMI® Hellcat engine

This is also where you access the Launch Control function as well as the almost-endlessly configurable powertrain and chassis settings – from Track to (yes, really) Eco.

You also get two sets of keys – well, key fobs. One red, the other black. The black one is for your teenaged kid, parking lot attendants and other not-trustables. It gimps the Hellcat’s output to – well, not quite Camry levels.

But a couple hundred hp less than the red key enables.

THE REST'15 Hellcat piggie

In almost every way, the Hellcat is a faithful reproduction of the experience you got 45 years ago when you dropped the hammer in a ’70 Hemi ‘Cuda – except in one way.

Though a relative bargain, the Hellcat’s near-$62k entry price (plus the cost to insure it) foreordain that – for the most part – only guys (and maybe a few gals) well past their twenty-something years are ever going to get to experience this thing.

Which may be a good thing – at least insofar as the continued production of rabid animals like this is concerned. If large numbers of twenty-somethings (and thirty-somethings) could afford cars like this, there would be a keening wail of outrage coming from “moms” and other such tramplers of fun. With reason, I must admit. If I had access to a car like this twenty-something years ago, probably I would not be here to type these words. One of my high school-era friends is not here for exactly that reason. He had a ’70 GTX with the 440 big block. The car is not around anymore – and neither is he.

Too much, too soon – too young.

'15 Hellcat burnout

If you buy a Hellcat – either the Charger or the Challenger – Chrysler wisely tosses in a free day at an SRT school of high performance driving.

Take them up on it.

If you have never driven a Nextel Cup stocker, you will want to take the course before you attempt to put your Hellcat through its paces. Seriously. Be careful. Respect it. And respect your limits.

This is a car that can get away from you – as well as get you into trouble.


Screw retro.

The here and now has suddenly become much more interesting.

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  1. Best part of the whole review is the radar detector…if in fact that’s what it is. Our carpetbagger governor would NOT be pleased!

    • Unlike Ford which tries to make as few of their performance cars as possible so dealers can mark them up. I never understood why Ford was so committed to dealer reward cars over making money. Is the dealer making an extra $10K on a car that important?

    • You’d have to be careful where you park it these days. Even UT has a stacked deck of 12 people who will decide to remove the confederate and Texas heroes statues. Well, Austin’s been a goner for decades now. It was a bastion of freedom in the 60’s and even the 70’s but not it’s just a bastard. Austin has it’s own group that wants a 30 mile radius to be it’s own state and that’s fine with the rest of Texas on 3 sides and Mexico to it’s south.

      I work with a lot of Hispanics and rarely do any of them know why Mexican music has a polka beat.

    • Chicago area dealers love their surcharges and there’s enough stupid people around so if they wait they’ll get it. They will even surcharge minor special editions like the Mach 1 mustangs some years back. The local dealers will surcharge Roush and Shelby (the ones that come out of the Vegas shop) models too above and beyond the built in profit margins of these cars.

      • Growing up in that region, there was always a kind of hushed awe about Chicago. You hear a lot of bad anecdotal stories about it now. But I guess there’s still a lot of good money being made there then.

        Chicago’s the 9th highest ranked economic metropolitan area in the world.
        http://www.brookings.edu/research/reports2/2015/01/22-global-metro-monitor. Ahead of Moscow in 10th and Beijing in 11th.

        GDP per person is $59,000. Which is really good, when you consider all those living there that produce around $0.

        I’ve always had a soft spot for Chicago. There’s a cheerful kind of crookedness about it, that I’ve always found rather charming.

        Maybe some of the same subhuman savagery happens there, that happens in Baltimore or Philly. But there seems to be more of an element of humor and being a good sport about the whole thing that the East Coast and West Coast seems entirely lacking in.

  2. Great review, Eric. Considering your previous bagging of Chrysler cars. I backed out of buying a 1971 340 Challenger that was 5 years old back in 1976 because I didn’t have the cash on hand to buy one. One of those decisions I still regret. We may even see some of these Here in Australia soon. There is word Chrysler is looking to bring a few production line Chargers here.

    Your review is really great. Got my blood moving quite rapidly, as well as other parts of my body!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  3. Of course this “Hemi” is no Hemi. But 707 is 707!!



    Revelation 3: While the heat-treated A356 aluminum cylinder heads do not have hemispherical combustion chambers, they do carry huge 54.3-mm (2.14-inch) intake valves and 42.0-mm (1.65-inch) exhaust valves. Both have hollow stems to save weight; the exhaust stems are sodium-filled to dispense with excess heat.

    • “huge” exhaust and intake valves. Ok. Huge….I guess. GM had exhaust and intake valves that large 5 decades ago and introduced hollow stem, sodium filled valves for their pickup engines in the late 60’s to deal with regular(as opposed to ethyl)fuel and propane applications. Back then you could put propane on a GM engine and it would live fine but get ready to do one valve job after the other on Ford engines. I lived this since the company my dad worked for had all Ford vehicles since it’s manager had a best buddy who sold them and his brother was the propane dealer, and every single vehicle they had including cars had a propane tank. This would have been ok but the Ford engine would simply toast valves one after the other. The only mechanic shop had a plethora of company pickups outside at all times and the guy made a really nice living fixing them, often the same ones, one after the other. He’d grin real big and say it was all good. He even bought a valve grinding machine and got really fast doing valve jobs.

      A buddy and I had been racing the mailman(hey, he was game, had a powerful Rambler six and a bobcat that sat on the back of the seat in his station-wagon)so we ended up at the gate to his dad’s farm and the mailman goes on. I was opening the lock when there’s this big “POW!!!!” and a big bump springs up on the hood of the pickup from the underside. So we raised the hood and voila, the oil breather had been the culprit since it had toasted so many valves and had so much pressure in the crankcase. We both hated those Fords since we had access to many GM vehicles that would just run them into the dirt. We laughed and stuck it back on with that telltale, chuff chuff chuff, notorious to Ford products. It had just had a valve job(new pickup)and just got another one. His dad was pissed, not at us but because, due to local politics, he had to buy Fords. Once out of that position they were Ford free. His dad would buy Pontiacs and Olds and Buick’s with big power and not drive them locally. He’d claim he bought them for his “boys”. I’ll never forget the day we all 3 went to work cattle in the cold and had a quail hit the windshield so we stopped and picked it up and added it to the vehicular “quail in the freezer collection”. We got back in and took off and he was in a hurry. She shifted into second in the pickup with a 3 on the tree and the shifter came off in his hand. Of course we were giggling but discreetly since we didn’t want to raise his ire. He stuck it back in , I picked up the pin off the floor and shoved it back in and away we went.

      Back then the local Ford dealer who held out due to politics the GM dealer wasn’t involved in, would order anybody any sort of car they wanted and give them a good price. Now that was free enterprise there……sorta.

  4. Keep in mind the only reason the Hellcat exists is because Uncle outfits the Enforcers with its little brother. Colorado Highway Patrol uses mostly Chargers for their daily drivers, while most of the local sheriff departments have switched to SVUs. It’s a daily thing now to get flashed-to-pass by a CHP who pops up behind you in a passing lane that was clear a few seconds ago (and then getting smoked after getting out of his way). This, on a 75MPH highway -lord knows how fast he’s moving.

    I wouldn’t be a bit surprised if there are orders being placed for this engine in the police cruiser package.

      • I remember in the late 80s/early 90s that the cops in my home city of Pittsburgh had turbo Regals for “special undercover pursuit” purposes, like chasing drug dealers and gangsters in their fancy cars. So did the FBI.

        I would not be surprised if some departments purchase Hellcats for the same purposes.

    • Same thing in Tx. Even though the cop spec Tahoes are fairly toasty, you can tell there’s lots of power they can’t resist in the Chargers. We truckers hate that “high speed run” since you can look in your mirrors and make sure nobody is coming before you move out out to pass and then there they are all of a sudden.

      I think I’ll contact some lege and see if we can’t establish a speed where their red and blues come on automatically that can’t be sidestepped. It’s not like these guys can really drive although some must see themselves as Andy Granatelli.

      And they’d tell you they’re trying to catch speeders in the name of saaaaafeety……bullshit.

      A couple nights ago I came up on a local working the interstate. He had all these flashing lights including one hell of a bright white light. Nothing to mess up your night vision like plenty of different colored lights all strobing at different rates.

  5. I don’t have much love for modern cars.
    I despise car payments.
    I’ve never really cared for Chrysler products.
    I’m 36 years old with a piece of paying paper within the last 5 years.
    I live in an apartment.
    I own a turn-of-the-century Honda Civic and an old Ford pickup.
    I just ran numbers in an online payment calculator for a $60k plus vehicle I have no business owning.
    Thanks Eric.

  6. Eric,

    I keep on hearing from someone in the know that for the last 18 months Obama has put together a secret panel of advisors to evaluate these new age muscle cars. I don’t know many details but it’s been confirmed. The government has noticed and is “concerned about our safety”. Don’t expect the party to last much longer.

    This person has the director of GM Racing on his personal speed dial so you can bet your funny money on this info.

  7. It appears in the pic with the cop car in the background this was done in the fall….so that would have been last year. Weird not a hint of it coming. Of course i’m not plugged in like I used to be, take no car mags of any sort or anything online except for EPA.

    That would get my old heart beating again even more than those fools that pull right out in front of me on a two lane road. Fast heartbeat in a GOOD way.

  8. Eric,

    This was one of my more enjoyable reads. Thanks for putting this up.

    In the second video towards the end on the straight away: What a beautiful sound.

    All you need now is to get it in a 3D Imax type theatre. That would be sheer joy.

    While I will never get this vehicle, it makes me feel good inside to know that such vehicles exist.

  9. Being a Mafia Consigliere (sp) myself….aka insurance agent.

    I ran a quote to replace my daily driver 2002 Mini Cooper S (now pushing 201000 miles!!).

    Rate goes from 371 to 714 and increase of about 340 bucks.

    SO replacing a car that MIGHT be worth $3500 bucks with one for $60K and 4+ X the HP and I don’t even double my rate?


    For reference:
    2015 z51 convertible vette goes up 396.00.

    2015 Carrera 4s goes up 425.00 to 796.00.

    So not the insurance monster you would expect. YMMV

    If you ever need ins numbers for an article I’d be happy to help. And I’d love to be your mafioso contact if you need a good gear head one…


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