2016 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat Instant Review
Our editors debate the pros and cons of the fiery 707-horsepower Mopar.
Three of The Drive’s editors – Will Sabel Courtney, Sean Evans, and Max Goldberg – recently all survived stints in the 2016 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat. They discussed the finer merits and detractors of the tire-eating, deliriously-loud, plum-colored muscle coupe via Slack, an instant message program with a fun ability to summon random gifs based on what users type. The following is a transcript of that conversation.
Will Sabel Courtney: Hey dudes. Let’s talk Challenger Hellcat. Specifically, let’s all discuss the ways we love it.
Sean Evans: Here are the things that the Dodge Challenger Hellcat does well: Drives in a straight line, consumes massive amounts of gasoline, is loud, and wears purple.
Max Goldberg: And looks good in a parking spot.
SE: Here are the things that the Dodge Challenger Hellcat does not do well: Everything else.
WSC: There are at least two things in that list you don’t do well, Sean.
MG: Never turn the wheel. Just don’t even consider it.
SE: Well, you can if you enjoy games of chance. "Step right up! Turn the wheel! See where you end up!"
WSC: The steering sucks. Let’s get that out of the way. But it’s not meant to be a Miata. You just have to learn to control it. It’s a wild stallion that needs to be tamed.
MG: But can’t be tamed.
SE: It wallows like a first-gen Challenger.
WSC: That’s a gross exaggeration.
SE: Is it? I had it on the West Side Highway, doing, uh, the speed limit, and when I would sink it into a bend, it had a buncha body roll. Now, that abated somewhat when you set it to Track mode, but that’s such a stiff suspension that you can’t daily it in that mode.
MG: It’s like that muscular friend that you love to wrestle with but one day, he kills you.
WSC: /giphy awkward
WSC: We’re all used to sports cars with suspensions tighter than drum skins. Just pop it in Track when you want to turn, pop it out when you wanna cruise. Not seeing the problem.
MG: You can’t deny the thing is a boat.
WSC: Oh no, it’s an absolute boat. Especially compared to the Camaro or Mustang. But I like that about it. It’s not trying to be a sports car. It’s an O.G. muscle car.
MG: Right down to the seats. Those are two La-Z-Boys up front.
SE: There are. Dodge must’ve decided to give it bucket seats to harken back to yesteryear. I almost don’t mind that. But the beauty of reviving old school muscle is making it better. Honing it. Refining it. I don’t think Dodge did that here.
MG: I don’t want it to be anything other than what it currently is.
WSC: I think they absolutely did.
SE: I think you’re a dumb dumb.
WSC: /gif you’re a towel
WSC: You knew that was coming.
MG: Anyone drop it to 500hp?
SE: I did.
WSC: Why, in God’s name?
SE: When you have 707 horseponies, you can’t sink your foot more than ⅛ of the way down before that back end steps out.
MG: Agreed. I actually kind of liked less power. It was perfect for controlled pulls.
WSC: Wait. The swaying butt is the fun of the car.
SE: We live in NYC and I don’t need to barrel through a pack of school children dawdling through a crosswalk.
WSC: Don’t blame the Hellcat because you live in Manhattan. That’s not the car’s fault.
SE: Max, you took it to Maine. Talk to us about long hauling the Hellcat.
MG: I was apprehensive about a 900-mile road trip, but it ended up rocking. It handled like a dream. Comfortable, controlled and perfect for those country roads. Plus, Mainers love it. They said it sounded like their lobster boats.
WSC: I took the SRT 392 on a long road trip a couple years ago. Same sort of thing. The Chally is a great road tripper.
SE: Fair enough. Muscle wouldn’t be my first choice for a road trip machine, but to each his own. Can we talk about speed? It’s is a subjective sensation, but to me, 50 mph in the Hellcat felt like 80, 80 felt like 120.
MG: I disagree, but I’m coming from a 2000 Jeep Cherokee
SE: Which has yet to murder you. #RIPAntonYelchin
WSC: /giphy too soon
MG: I blinked and I was in "whoops" territory.
WSC: In the turns, it felt too big for its britches, speed-wise. But on the straights, it never felt faster to me than it was actually going. 80 felt like 80.
MG: I felt the size made it a little hairy on the counter-steer.
SE: Like you’d try to correct and nearly end up in a tank-slapper?
WSC: I can see that. It was unwieldy. And the poor steering feel doesn’t help.
MG: Also, whenever the traction control decided to kick in, you’d get a little whip action.
SE: What’s curb weight?
MG: Around 4,500 pounds.
SE: /gif chunky
MG: /giphy fat cat
WSC: I do really dig the looks of the car. Inside and out. Probably the best-looking muscle car today.
MG: Me too. I couldn’t stop taking pictures of it. I have a solid 30 shots that will forever rotate through my iPhone background options.
SE: Agreed. It’s fierce, imposing and always a head-turner.
MG: Let’s talk sticker price. $70K for a Dodge.
WSC: $70K for 707 hp.
MG: That’s definitely hard to say OK to, since the Scat Pack has plenty of power and is around $43K with options.
WSC: It’s not that bad.
SE: It’s a lot . . . for a Dodge, which still has the Dodge squeaks and creaks.
WSC: It’s . . . 707 horsepower. It’s not that much. I heard a few creaks, saw a few objectionable panels or pieces. Same as any mainstream domestic car. I didn’t have any problem with it.
MG: It has flaws, which were probably noticed by engineers and ignored.
SE: Let’s say you buy it. Would you daily?
MG: I wouldn’t only because I would eventually get a massive ticket.
WSC: I would daily. I’d buy it for $70K because of the sheer coolness. I love muscle cars that are stupid powerful. The only reason I wouldn’t buy it for $70K is because I like the 2014 Shelby GT500 more.
SE: I wouldn’t buy it.
WSC: Sean, what would you buy instead for $70K?
SE: Something European, with some alphanumeric soup badging. S5? C63 AMG?
WSC: What a Manhattanite you are.
MG: Okay, can’t hate you for that.
SE: Sure. I’d get a Caddy. Or if you want to keep it to America, I’d get a Camaro SS.
MG: Why not a Scat Pack?
SE: Because I never want to say “I drive a Scat Pack.” I hear "scat," I think "scatalogical."
MG: Fair. “I’m a Scat guy.”
SE: You would be. Look, Dodge made a car with high horsepower as a gimmick. It sells well as a result. All gimmicks typically sell well.
MG: But they ended up making a very cool and iconic car.
SE: It is a very fun car. But I don’t know if it’s a well thought-out car.
WSC: Does every car need to be?
SE: Need? No. But at that price point, its competition mostly is.
WSC: There are plenty of reasonable cars out there. Most of them are pretty boring. The world needs more unreasonable cars. Some can be track machines. Others can be muscle monsters.
SE: I guess that’s my point. What’s the fun in having 707-hp if you can’t get it down properly? Or stop, for that matter. I tried stood on those brakes after I hit 75 mph. It chattered the whole way down to zero. A ton. You guys experience that?
MG: I did. But I don’t know if that’s a result of hard driving. It had 7,000 on the odometer. That’s a lot for a press car.
SE: It is. You’re right. Hard to ascribe spongy brakes to the car in that case.
WSC: I think it’s just partly the weight. It’s a heavy beast. But I didn’t feel unsafe under hard braking.
SE: Aight. To close, one thing you love, one thing you’d change and what you’d be willing to spend for it.
MG: I loved how it never stopped pulling, I hated how terribly it entered every corner and I would pay $60K because I can’t justify paying nearly $30K more than the Scat Pack.
SE: I loved how loud and terrifying it sounded when you were on it, I hated the handling, and I would spent $55K because I wouldn’t daily it and I wouldn’t spend much more on an occasional driver.
WSC: I love how ridiculously overpowered it is, that it let me lay down the longest burnout of my life without trying, and that it makes every drive into a carnival ride. I would change the steering, because it has zero feel. And I would pay $65K, because I’d buy the basic one with no options and that costs about $65K.
SE: On that note: /gif hellcat
MG: /giphy challenger hellcat
2016 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat
Price (as Tested): $64,195 ($70,775)
Powertrain: Supercharged 6.2-liter, 707-hp V8, 8-speed automatic transmission; RWD
0-60 MPH: 3.6 seconds
MPG: 13 city, 22 highway