Rational buyers didn’t figure in the first place, or in any place for that matter, in FCA’s decision to introduce the 2015 Dodge Challenger and Charger SRT Hellcat versions. The engine is named after the Grumman F6F Hellcat World War II carrier-based fighter aircraft. The Chrysler Hellcat is a supercharged V-8 Hemi engine that produces 707 horsepower and 650 lb-ft. of torque. Hellcats are incredibly powerful cars. When the Hellcat’s full “red-key” power is enabled, the car can quickly get out of control without steady hands on the wheel and judicious application of its power.
Hellcats come with two keys, black and red. The black key limits horsepower to 500, restrict RPMs to 4,000, locks out first gear in cars with automatic transmissions, sets electronic stability control to its maximum setting, and locks out launch control. The black key is helpful when you want to tool around without the full beast uncaged or when you’d rather not have someone else who is driving your car exposed to its full power. There’s also a valet mode that restricts performance even further. The red key enables the full Hellcat experience.
The Hellcat’s Launch Control mode, by the way, isn’t used for burnouts. Launch Control mode’s purpose is to balance traction, slippage, and power to enable the fastest possible times in quarter-mile or other acceleration and speed tests.
To perform a burnout, whether with a manual or automatic transmission, the basics are simple, though the footwork is trickier when you have to use a clutch. You step hard on the brake, put the car in gear, and press the accelerator to the floor with the brake still applied. The brake should hold the car still while the drive wheels start spinning. When the tires spin in place they get hot very quickly and soon begin to smoke, or burn.
Theoretically you could just sit there till you burn off all the rubber on the tires. If you just take your foot off the gas, the drama ceases. If you use the burnout to soften the tires for better acceleration, which does not work well with normal cars and tires (though it does with dragsters), the moments after you release the brake with the accelerator still pushed to the floor are when you can get in trouble fast.
And that’s why the 10-year-old kid “holding” the burnout is impressive — to those who enjoy such things. He doesn’t just ease off on the accelerator, but accelerates from the stop, holding the car straight. He does shut down quite soon, but continues the burn while he takes off.
Full disclaimer: no one should try this at home. Or on public streets. Especially if you live near your insurance agent.
The 4,000 2015 Dodge Challenger and Charger SRT Hellcats Chrysler produced sold out quickly. In 2016 the company planned to double production to approximately 8,000 units.
Chryler has confirmed that in July 2017 it will introduce the first Jeep Grand Cherokee Hellcat, possibly called the Grand Cherokee Trailhawk. Because off-road four-wheel drive burnouts are the next rational Hellcat step.