Dodge’s Challenger Hellcat Widebody looks meaner, grips better

One problem with the Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat is that it looks fairly similar to a regular Challenger. Yes, there are some styling differences between this 707-horsepower monster and other Challengers, but you have to know what you are looking for. No, it is not the worst thing in the world, but some Hellcat owners might want a less-subtle look.

Dodge is delivering that less-subtle look in the form of the 2018 Challenger SRT Hellcat Widebody. It borrows the fender flares from the 840-hp Challenger SRT Demon drag racer for a more muscular look. The makeover should help the Hellcat steal back some of the attention the Demon has been hogging since its New York Auto Show debut in April.

The fender flares add 3.5 inches of width to the Challenger’s body, giving Dodge more room to fit wider wheels and tires. The Widebody version rides on special 20-inch by 11-inch “Devil’s Rim” aluminum wheels, clad with 305/35ZR20 Pirelli P-Zero tires that offer substantially more grip than the tires on the “standard” Hellcat, according to Dodge.

So much grip, in fact, that Dodge says the Widebody is approximately 2.0 seconds faster per lap of a 1.7-mile road course than the standard Hellcat. The Widebody can also generate 0.97g of lateral grip on the skidpad, accelerate from 0 to 60 mph in 3.4 seconds, and run the quarter mile in 10.9 seconds. Those are improvements of 0.4g, 0.1 second, and 0.3 seconds, respectively, over the standard Hellcat.

Top speed for the Widebody is 195 mph, compared to 199 mph for the standard version. Dodge did not say specifically, but that may have to do with the Widebody’s extra width, which is not good for aerodynamics.

The wheels and tires may have changed, but its 6.2-liter supercharged Hemi V8 remains the same. It sends 707 hp and 650 pound-feet of torque to the rear wheels through a six-speed manual transmission or an eight-speed automatic. For 2018, the Hellcat gets electric power steering for the first time.

When it first appeared in 2015, the Challenger SRT Hellcat became an instant hit thanks to its mind-boggling performance figures. But it has since been usurped by the Demon, which has even more power and takes an even more aggressive approach to performance. But the Demon is so aggressive (it only comes with one seat) that it is really more of a race car than a performance road car (the National Hot Rod Association seems to think so). The Hellcat remains the better choice for muscle car fans who actually want to drive their cars on the road.

The 2018 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat Widebody starts at $72,590 (including destination and gas guzzler tax). Dealers will start taking orders next month and deliveries will begin later in 2017.