Launching the 2018 Dodge Challenger SRT Demon
After months of hype, we drive Dodge's unholy, record-setting beast on the dragstrip.
Let’s be honest: No one is buying an 840-horsepower Demon to tackle a winding road course or climb Pikes Peak. No, the SRT Demon is the industry’s ultimate straight arrow, a wheelie-popping, nuclear-powered crossbow that—in the most capable hands—can clock a quarter-mile in 9.65 seconds at 140 mph, faster than any production car in history. Even if a $900,000 Porsche 918 Spyder comes along, or a $2.7 million Bugatti Chiron, it’s going to be an interesting race. And how often do rarities like that come along?
Unleashing the full 840 horses requires the nominal $1 upcharge for the optional "Demon Crate", including a powertrain control module and dashboard switch that optimizes the engine for 100-plus octane racing fuel. That power-boosting function won’t activate if the car’s knock sensors detect lower octane fuel, including a mix of premium and racing grades. Minus the option, or driven in Street or Sport modes, the Dodge makes 808 horsepower and 717 pound-feet on 92-octane unleaded. Can you live with that?
With dual fuel pumps and beefed up components versus the 707-hp Hellcat, including double the piston cooling, the engine adds a massive 2,700-cc supercharger (versus the ‘Cat’s 2,300 cc’s). The engine uses 90 horsepower just to drive the belted supercharger, and its twin air-compressing screws that turn at a respective 15,000 and 25,000 rpm. The V8's thermal energy could boil a gallon of water from room temperature in 1.2 seconds. With its production-record induction rate, including the industry’s largest functional hood scoop, the Dodge inhales atmosphere at 1,150 cubic feet per minute. Connect its induction to the cabin, and the Demon would theoretically suck up all its air in 800 feet of full-throttle travel. Add up the myriad changes—mass reduction, engine, tires, torque converter, rear axle, TransBrake—and the Dodge applies 30 percent more Newtonian force to the pavement than the Hellcat.
So how does it feel to grab the Demon by the horns? Pointed straight toward its altar, the SRT Demon will stack its enemies and set them ablaze. Above, watch chief auto critic Lawrence Ulrich run quarter-miles in this monster at Lucas Oil Raceway’s dragstrip, and read his review here.