THE BIG CAT

WE DRIVE THE STICKY NEW 2018 CHAL­LENGER SRT HELLCAT WIDEBODY

Mopar Muscle - - Contents - BY DOU­GLAS GLAD PHOTOS BY FCA

We drive the sticky new ’18 Chal­lenger SRT Hellcat widebody

Every­one was guess­ing the new Dodge De­mon was go­ing to be all-wheeldrive or a pure rear-wheel-drive track car de­signed to as­sault the new Z28 and GT350 in the turns. Not so fast. In an epic sleight of hand, Dodge pas­sen­ger car head Tim Ku­niskis in­stead re­vealed a wicked 840hp drag car, both shock­ing the in­ter­net prophets and kick­ing home-plate dirt on those wacky fuel econ­omy stan­dards loom­ing on the hori­zon.

The head fake came from those fender flairs that ex­tended the car’s over­all width by 3.5 inches and made the De­mon look like it was ready for the skid­pad. When the cur­tain was pulled, the big tires were ac­tu­ally drag ra­di­als in­stead of what you’d ex­pect from a han­dling car, and, in rac­ing trim, the De­mon uses 18x4.5 skin­nies on the front that aren’t so good on the gi­ant slalom.

For those of you ex­pect­ing to drive the new De­mon at La­guna Seca, here’s your track car. The ’18 Dodge Chal­lenger Hellcat Widebody has all the power of the su­per­charged 707hp Hellcat plus a set of 20x11 “Devil’s Rim” split five-spoke alu­minum wheels with 305/35ZR20 Pirelli P-zero tires, as well as han­dling trick­ery like tun­able elec­tric power steer­ing. The larger con­tact patch and sus­pen­sion tweaks lower the track times (road course, that is) about 2 sec­onds per lap. On the skid­pad, the car was whisper close to 1.00 g with a 0.97, and it still runs 10.9s in the quar­ter-mile, top­ping

out at 195 mph. The brakes have gi­gan­tic Brembo 15.4-inch ro­tors and six-pis­ton calipers.

Out­side, you’re go­ing to find the stan­dard Dodge mus­cle car cues like the power-bulge alu­minum hood with cen­ter in­take and dual heat ex­trac­tors, Air Catcher head­lamps that feed cold air into the air­box, and the front split­ter from the De­mon and the rear spoiler from the Hellcat.

In­side the car you get the road course toys. First, the flat-bot­tomed steer­ing wheel is there to re­mind you of an F1 or sim­i­lar rac­ing ma­chine, and the SRT La­guna leather per­for­mance seats make sure you don’t fall out dur­ing the high-g cor­ner­ing. Those parts add to the al­ready per­for­mance-heavy fea­tures like the 8.4-inch touch­screen, let­ting you scroll through the drive modes, and a brazen 200-mph speedome­ter.

In the end, it’s still a Hellcat — an in­cred­i­ble car. Plus it’s a lit­tle faster, han­dles a lit­tle bit bet­ter, and looks ab­so­lutely fan­tas­tic.

If you aren’t a drag racer and need to own the ul­ti­mate in Amer­i­can per­for­mance, this is the ob­vi­ous choice from the Dodge guys.

In the end, it’s still a Hellcat — an in­cred­i­ble car. Plus it’s a lit­tle faster, han­dles a lit­tle bit bet­ter, and looks ab­so­lutely fan­tas­tic.

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