By: IOL Motoring Staff
Auburn Hills, Michigan - Chrysler has just unleashed its most powerful street-legal muscle-car yet - the 2015 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat, with an all-new, supercharged 6.2-litre Hemi V8 rated at 'more than 445kW', driving via either a six-speed Tremec manual gearbox or - a first for an SRT performance model - an eight-speed TorqueFlite auto with paddle shift.
The Hellcat engine is the first Chrysler Hemi with a blower as standard, and it's been built to handle all the abuse that can entail, with a forged-steel crankshaft, powder-forged conrods and forged-alloy pistons.
Drive modes - controlled through the Uconnect system - control power output, steering weight, shift points, traction control and suspension settings - allowing the driver to choose between Default, Sport, Track and Custom modes (with parameters set by the driver).
One of the big problems with high-performance vehicles is when you have to let other people drive them - so, for the first time from Chrysler, the Hellcat comes with two key fobs: a red one for full-tilt boogie and a black one that limits the engine to a reduced engine output.
Then there's also Valet Mode, activated by keying a four-digit PIN into the Uconnect system, which limits the engine to 4000rpm, locks the mapping in Default mode, blocks first gear, disables the paddle shift and manual override on auto transmissions, and disables launch control.
The Hellcat comes with the biggest brakes yet on a Chrysler road car - 390mm Brembo two-piece discs with six-piston callipers - inside special 20” split-seven spoked 'Slingshot' forged-alloy rims, finished in either matte black or dark bronze, and shod with 275/40 Pirelli P Zero Nero low-profile radials.
The Hellcat's gauges and graphics, set in a stamped-aluminium bezel plate, are backlight in a purposeful dark 'radar red', and the background of the new 8.4” touchscreen in the centre stack can be customised to match the chosen trim colours.
A raised centre console, with French-seamed accents in its leather trim, reinforces the Hellcat's track-focused persona while housing redundant controls for audio and aircon, as well as a new media hub with an SD card slot, USB outlet and audio jack.
Sports seats with deep side bolsters for maximum lateral support in hard cornering (optionally with mixed nappa leather/alcantara upholstery) and a flat-bottomed SRT steering wheel with more buttons and switches than a Formula One Ferrari complete the package.
Production of the new Challenger SRT is scheduled to start in Brampton, Ontario in the third quarter of 2014 - all in left-hand drive, unfortunately, so we won’t be seeing it in South Africa.