Attentive readers will know that we have already put not one, but two 2015 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcats through our typical barrage of tests—one equipped with a six-speed manual transmission, the other an eight-speed automatic. For its second model year, Dodge left the powertrains untouched. This Challenger’s blown 6.2-liter V-8 still pushes the same tire-smoking 707 horsepower and 650 lb-ft of torque to the rear wheels. Our test car had the optional ($2995) eight-speed automatic that can swap ratios in as little as 160 milliseconds. So why put this essentially unchanged, approximately two-and-a-quarter-ton beast through our tests again? To quote technical editor K.C. Colwell, “Because it’s a Hellcat.”
And because it’s a Hellcat, our Billet Silver Metallic test car attempted to make mincemeat of its rear tires at every opportunity. Seriously, this is a difficult car to launch on a sticky drag strip, let alone the public-road-like conditions on which we test. Its launch traction is easily overwhelmed by the engine’s massive amount of torque, despite our test car’s sinister-looking 14-spoke, 20-inch wheels being wrapped in a set of sticky 275/40 Pirelli P Zero summer tires, a $695 option. Good luck trying to launch a Hellcat riding on the standard all-season rubber. (Next year’s wide-body Hellcat ADR should pack more meat in its wheel wells.)
But if you tickle the throttle just right, the Hellcat delivers seriously heroic acceleration, much quicker than can be achieved with its built-in launch-control feature. Zero to 60 mph happens in 3.6 seconds, 100 mph comes up in 7.8 seconds, and the quarter-mile is covered in 11.7 seconds at 126 mph, with the car’s massive supercharger whining like a hive of angry bees the entire time. Those are the same times that we recorded for the 2015 edition with the automatic transmission, although 100 mph took 0.2 second longer this time. Balancing the torque against the available traction is never quite exactly the same experience twice.
Although standing-start acceleration runs in the Hellcat are breathtaking, the real eye-widening happens once it’s rolling. Top-gear acceleration from 30 to 50 mph and from 50 to 70 mph happens in 1.8 and 2.3 seconds. Passing other traffic poses no worries beyond avoiding the attention of the local constabulary. Booting the gas pedal at anything less than triple-digit speeds goes something like this: The big coupe squats back, the transmission quickly kicks down to a lower gear, and the car rockets forward, its rear tires slipping and fighting to maintain contact with the road. Don’t get behind in your steering. Complete review on www.caranddriver.com, by Alex Conley