Frankly, we couldn’t have picked a better week to start out, because Dodge has just provided some of the most exciting possible news with the introduction of its pants-crappingly insane SRT Charger Hellcat. Powered by the same 6.2-liter supercharged 707-horsepower HEMI motor as the SRT Challenger Hellcat, the Charger is the fastest and most powerful sedan in the world.
This would be an impressive enough achievement even without considering that, like the SRT Challenger, the Charger shouldn’t cost more than about $60,000. And that my friends should have ‘ze Germans quaking in their lederhosen.
Speaking of those Germans, the two SRT monsters are about the most fitting revenge possible for Chrysler. Remember, Chrysler used to be owned by Mercedes. In fact, the Charger and Challenger are both based on an old Mercedes E-Class platform. During the period of German domination Mercedes, and particularly its own insane performance division AMG, seemed set on preventing Chrysler outshine them.
This meant a series of unlovable cars based on outdated Mercedes tech … and we all know how that went. It appears, however, that America’s new Italian overlords at Fiat are a bit more gracious, or at least want to stick it to Germany just as badly as Chrysler does, because the new SRT Charger and Challenger seem firmly set on outshining their former masters.
Take for example the Mercedes E63 AMG S-Model 4MATIC, not only does this $99,770 car have a much worse name than SRT Charger Hellcat, it also has 130 fewer horsepower and a top speed of just 186 mph. The SRT Charger? That will do 204.
Sure, the Mercedes will probably manage the sprint to 60 a little quicker. The E63 AMG can manage this in just 3.5 seconds, and while Dodge hasn’t released a time for the Charger yet, it is likely to be closer to 4.0. After all, a pair of tires can only do so much. Also, as Mercedes has access to German engineers and black magic the E63 AMG will almost certainly be quicker through the corners.
The fact remains, however, the SRT Charger is not just faster and more exciting than the Mercedes, or for that matter any BMW or Audi, it will also be a good $40,000 cheaper, and – shockingly – better equipped to boot.
Seriously, every time I look at this thing I expect the national anthem to start playing.
What a resurgence
Other than sticking a thumb in the Germans eye, the two stunning SRT creations loudly show off something that has quietly been happening for some time: the resurgence of the Chrysler group.
With the Charger Hellcat, Challenger Hellcat and the return of the Viper, Dodge will have the most exciting performance lineup of any mainstream automaker. But it goes deeper than that.
Since its lowest ebb in 2008, the company has become an industry leader in areas from infotainment with its amazing Uconnect system, and advanced aerodynamics like those on the Ram 1500.
Chrysler also seems to be the first American automaker to have figured out how to consistently produce a great interior. Something that the Hellcat siblings show off in spades.
Not even the new Corvette Stingray, as amazing as it is, has the same sense of energy and excitement in its styling and personality as the twin Hellcats.
Other than the pure raw excitement of the two Hellcats, these cars also breathe some life into the old glory of Detroit. In fact, these two cars mark an achievement that no American company has managed in nearly fifty years.
A domestic automaker is putting out versions of its everyday cars that lead the world in performance, and by their very existence bring excitement and energy to the brand. Now, if only Dodge can refresh the Viper with the same combination of juvenile excitement and technical competence, then they can give the Italians a run for their money, too.