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Could Dodge’s rumored ‘Hellcat’ V8 outshine the Viper’s V10?

Chrysler seems to think giving engines cool names will imbue them with special powers.

First came the fuel-efficient “Hurricane” four-cylinder and now, at the other end of the spectrum, we have the “Hellcat”.

The company is rumored to be preparing a 6.2-liter supercharged V8 for use in the next Dodge Challenger SRT. While the company hasn’t even confirmed the hellacious engine’s existence, reports suggest its power output will be in the 580 to 640 horsepower range.

Note that last figure matches the power rating of the SRT Viper’s 8.4-liter V10. Could it be that a hot-rodded version of the Challenger will rival the near-supercar Viper in grunt?

SRT president and CEO Ralph Gilles hinted at this possibility in an interview with Hot Rod, when the magazine suggested Chrysler was losing to Ford and Chevrolet in the Detroit horsepower war.

“We have a situation where, you know – we may have a situation – where the flagship car is not the most powerful car in our arsenal; how do we explain that to ourselves?” He said there is an “internal horsepower race” going on at Chrysler.

In the same comment, Gilles said SRT will focus on “usable horsepower” and improving vehicles’ power-to-weight ratios, presumably as an alternative to increasing horsepower for its own sake.

While SRT could probably extract more power from the Viper’s V10 (perhaps by giving it a supercharger of its own), it’s admittedly hard to see where it can go from here.

A more powerful Viper would be faster, but pushing the car further into supercar territory would require a level of refinement to rival that of Ferrari or Porsche, and to keep minimally-trained owners from killing themselves.

So as SRT seeks to improve the Viper, other factors will become as important – if not more important – than increasing horsepower.

As for a Hellcat-powered Challenger producing as much grunt as a Viper, keep in mind that there’s already one Detroit muscle car that’s accomplished that feat. The outgoing Ford Shelby GT500 Mustang has 662 hp, courtesy of a 5.8-liter supercharged V8.

The GT500 has always been more about top speed than handling, but a two-seat sports car like the Viper has to excel at both.

Maybe SRT has decided to give its super sports car more than just a venomous bite, while giving enthusiasts another high-horsepower model to drool over.

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