Hard on the heels of the first drive of the new Challenger lineup, Dodge has announced an SRT edition of the Charger sedan, propelled by the division's sensational supercharged Hellcat V8. Like its two-door counterpart, the SRT Charger will have 707 horsepower and 650 lb-ft of torque on tap, driving the rear wheels via a limited slip rear differential. Unlike the SRT Challenger Hellcat, which offers a choice of an 8-speed automatic with manual shifting or a 6-speed manual, the Charger is limited to the automatic. And while the Challenger is no wraith, the SRT Charger is even heftier, weighing in at 4575 pounds, according to Dodge.
Nevertheless, 707 horsepower can make light of mass, and Dodge unequivocally calls the Charger SRT "the quickest, fastest, and most powerful sedan ever." Dodge backs this assertion with a National Hot Rod Association-certified quarter-mile elapsed time of 11 seconds flat-very brisk for a sedan whose curb weight falls into SUV territory. The Charger is capable of hitting 60 mph in 3.7 seconds, according to Dodge, and a top speed of 204 mph, 5 mph faster than the Hellcat-powered Challenger thanks to extensive wind tunnel refinement. According to the development team, the Charger's aerodynamic drag value is 12 percent lower than that of the Challenger.
Like the Hellcat Challenger, the Charger rolls on 20 x 9.5-inch forged aluminum alloy wheels wearing 275/40 Pirelli P-Zero tires, backed by the biggest brake package ever offered in a Chrysler production vehicle, with 15.4-inch two-piece Brembo front rotors with six-piston calipers. That brake-tire combo contributes to yet another noteworthy performance stat: 0-to-100 mph-to-0 in less than 13 seconds. Other dynamic elements parallel those of the SRT Challenger: three-mode performance suspension tuning with adaptive damping, and driver pre-sets for the transmission shift times, which can hammer home in 160 milliseconds, according to Dodge, upshifts or down, with rev-matching on downshifts. The Hellcat's 6.2-liter engine is based on Chrysler's 6.4-liter Hemi V8, but there's more to its development than installing a supercharger and twin intercoolers. (For contrast, the naturally aspirated 6.4-liter Hemi is rated for 485 hp and 475 lb-ft of torque.) Every element-cylinder heads, cylinder block, valves, pistons, connecting rods, crankshaft, oil pan-has been redesigned to handle the huge output increase. SRT powertrain engineers say that 92 percent of the engine is new.
The 700 Club
Asked if that memorable output rating-707 hp-was a matter of chance or a specific development target, the engineers would only grin and say they wanted to be sure the number was well clear of 700. Another irony: the Charger's Drive Modes program lets the driver pre-select among four different operating parameters-Custom (allowing the driver to tailor each setting), Sport, Track, and Eco, the latter conceived to optimize fuel economy. However, fuel economy and 707 hp are rarely mentioned in the same breath. EPA fuel economy ratings have yet to be finalized for either Hellcat application, but Dodge acknowledges that the Hellcat Challenger's base price includes a gas guzzler tax.
Like the Challenger Hellcat, this super Charger's interior is lavishly furnished. Standard features include Dodge's Performance Pages program, allowing the driver to track a wide variety of go-fast metrics, displayed on an 8.4-inch color touch screen, high output audio, Chrysler's Uconnect telematics, and race worthy seats clad in Nappa leather. Another feature shared with the Challenger is a dual set of key fobs, one red, and one black. The red fob unleashes the Hellcat's full potential, whereas the black fob, the one an owner might hand over to kids and/or pals, limits output to a mere 500 hp.
The Charger SRT is due to go on sale early next year as a 2015 model, and with the date that distant Dodge spokespeople weren't ready to discuss pricing. However, perspective can be drawn from the Challenger SRT Hellcat, which will roll into showrooms with an MSRP of $59,995, plus a $995 destination charge.
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