Dodge Chal­lenger De­mon

Drag strip mon­ster from the un­der­world

Motor (Australia) - - FIRST FANG -

CARS LIKE the Dodge Chal­lenger SRT De­mon don’t come around all that of­ten. It’s been banned by the NHRA for be­ing too fast for a pro­duc­tion car and has been cer­ti­fied to pull wheel­ies.

Start­ing with the in­fa­mous Hell­cat as the start­ing point, ev­ery­thing that can make it go quicker has been op­ti­mised. The Hell­cat’s for­mi­da­ble 6.2-litre su­per­charged HEMI V8 has been over­hauled – the su­per­charger en­larged, boost in­creased, en­gine in­ter­nals strength­ened, fuel de­liv­ery in­creased – to achieve a max­i­mum of 626kW at 6300rpm and 1044Nm at 4500rpm on race fuel. On pre­mium fuel, the De­mon still makes a phe­nom­e­nal 603kW/972Nm. As long as you’re car­ry­ing the red ‘power’ key, all that grunt is at your dis­posal.

Power isn’t the only story, but rather the drag-spe­cific en­gi­neer­ing that’s gone into the De­mon that makes it as quick as it is unique. In Drag Mode, air­con­di­tion­ing is dis­abled and, more im­por­tantly, di­verted to chill the en­gine’s in­com­ing air. There’s also an af­ter-run pump to min­imise heat soak be­tween runs.

Avail­able with an auto ’box only, the fa­mil­iar eight-speed has a re­vised torque con­verter with a higher stall speed, and the prop­shaft and half shafts are strength­ened over stan­dard Hell­cat kit. The 3.09:1 fi­nal drive and limited-slip diff are unique to the De­mon and SRT en­gi­neers fixed their tyre choice on the Nitto NT05R street le­gal drag ra­dial in 315/40R18 sizes at all four cor­ners.

Next on the list was weight, SRT re­mov­ing 90kg from the Hell­cat start­ing with the pas­sen­ger and rear seats (you can add them back in as op­tions at $1 each), hol­low sway bars, as well as a smaller Brembo brake pack­age. The nec­es­sary De­mon Crate, which in­cludes nar­row, drag-spe­cific front wheels and tyres, as well as the nec­es­sary tools to swap them track­side, also costs a sin­gle dol­lar and is per­son­alised to the owner and the De­mon.

Spring rates are softer front and rear and the Hell­cat’s adap­tive dampers are re­tained, but thor­oughly re­vised for the De­mon’s pur­pose with ac­cel­er­a­tio­nen­hanc­ing set­tings in Drag Mode.

On the road, the De­mon is as com­fort­able and rides with a lit­tle more com­pli­ance than any other Chal­lenger, which means you can en­joy it on the street. Burly, bois­ter­ous, and broad-shoul­dered, this Chal­lenger owns the road.

Once at the strip, en­abling Drag Mode per­mits the use of three unique De­mon fea­tures: Line Lock, Trans Brake, and drag-spec damper set­tings. Part of drag strip eti­quette in­cludes a bil­low­ing burnout, and Line Lock makes that a snap.

A fully in­te­grated sys­tem, the Trans Brake locks the front brakes, builds boost and pre-loads the driv­e­train by lock­ing all first gear clutches and one sec­ond-gear clutch. Once the Trans Brake is re­leased, the full fury of this De­mon is un­leashed.

It’s best you hold on to that steer­ing wheel, be­cause the De­mon throws you into the back of your seat. At the same time, the bon­net points up to the sky.

The high-pitched whine and bel­low­ing ex­haust dom­i­nate your ears. The rate of ac­cel­er­a­tion down the strip seems im­pos­si­ble, forc­ing your con­scious­ness to a new level of au­to­mo­tive pos­si­bil­ity and even by the quar­ter mile marker, the De­mon is still pulling hard. It’s pure, joy­ful, sen­sory over­load.

Dodge and the NHRA say it’ll lay down a quar­ter mile time of 9.65 sec­onds at a speed of 225km/h. It feels faster. The De­mon beats all com­ers to 100km/h and through the quar­ter mile for a frac­tion of the price, with the mus­cle car at­ti­tude to go along with those shock­ing num­bers. It’s a shame this one isn’t com­ing to Aus­tralia.

The rate of ac­cel­er­a­tion down the strip seems im­pos­si­ble – Dodge claims it’ll lay down a 9.65sec quar­ter at 225km/h but it feels faster than that

De­spite its nar­row fo­cus, De­mon’s ex­tra com­pli­ance makes it more than us­able on the street

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