The Dodge Challenger is a legendary model for Chrysler. It’s the American company’s player in pony car game and the likes of Ford’s Mustang and the Chevrolet Camaro have been its competition on and off for nearly 50 years.
The original Challenger came to market in 1969; in 2008, Dodge introduced the present, third-generation version. The large, two-door coupé uses a cut version of Chrysler’s waning LX architecture, which underpins the 300C saloon. Ford’s latest Mustang GT is substantial shorter and lighter than the Challenger, for reference.
Improvements since launch include the addition of an optional ‘TorqueFlite’ eight-speed automatic transmission across the model line-up, as well as retro exterior and interior updates that mimic the iconic 1971 Challenger. There are currently 10 models for enthusiasts of the Challenger to choose from, starting with the entry-level SXT and SXT Plus powered by a 3.6-litre V6 motor paired with an eight-speed automatic. While those after a Hemi V8 can look towards the R/T, R/T Plus, R/T Shaker, R/T Shaker Plus and its 5.7-litre petrol lump and the option of a six-speed manual gearbox. The R/T Scat Pack, 392 Hemi Scat Pack Shaker and the SRT 392 all use a 6.4-litre V8 at the front (or 392-cu-in hence why 392 is in the name).
Topping the range is the Challenger SRT Hellcat which is by far the most extreme version of Dodge’s muscle car, until the SRT Demon rear its head. Its supercharged 6.2-litre V8 develops 707bhp, along with 650lb ft of torque. A six-speed manual gearbox is standard but our test car featured the optional automatic transmission.
It’s a wild car. The Hellcat can guzzle the full volume of its 15.4-gallon fuel tank in only 13 minutes. Its supercharger ingests oxygen through a huge 92mm throttle body and the output of a base Ford Fiesta – 79bhp – is needed to spin that twin-screw blower. Each 6.2-litre engine is run on a dyno for 42 minutes before installation. No CO2 emissions are stated for the beastly V8 and we don’t think Chrysler really cares.
The Hellcat’s 20-inch wheels are available in either matte black or dark bronze (what Dodge calls 'Brass Monkey') finish. Mounted on the large wheels are 275/40 ZR20 Pirelli P Zero tires. The Hellcat’s exclusive 'Air Catcher' intake port sits inside one of the front lamps and ducts intake air into the engine.
The available exterior colours are a marketing department’s dream and include: B5 Blue, Pitch Black, Sublime Metallic (green), and TorRed. You can also order the bonnet in Satin Black, just in case you find the Hellcat too subtle.
The two-door Dodge feels huge and you’re perched quite high, in seats offering little support. Back seat access is cumbersome. One can’t help but wonder how a vehicle so large features such compromised packaging.