Detroit, Michigan - Since the demise of the ill-fated DaimlerChrysler merger, Dodge has gone back to its roots, re-inventing itself through its SRT performance department as America’s quintessential muscle-car brand. Sadly, the two-door Challenger and its four-door Charger stablemate aren’t made in right-hand drive so they're not available in South Africa, but the numbers make for fascinating reading nonetheless.
Bigger and heavier than a Mustang, Corvette or Camaro, the Dodge Challenger relies on the old-school values of its Hemi engines - big displacement, heavily force-fed V8s delivering monumental torque at relatively low revs - to get the job done, and justify calling it ‘America’s most powerful, quickest and fastest muscle car’.
Not counting electric sedans and hybrids, that is - Chrysler has been forced to concede that even its most muscular Hemi won’t stay with a standard Tesla Model S sedan off the line.
In that way the barking mad 2019 Challenger SRT Hellcat Redeye flagship model, revealed in detail today, is a dinosaur - but it is the Tyrannosaurus Rex of dinosaurs, boasting a supercharged 6.2-litre V8 rated for 594kW and a whiplash-inducing 957Nm. And it gets those numbers the old-fashioned way, with a bigger, 2.7-litre supercharger, an uprated oil-pump, beefed-up pistons and con rods, a high-speed valve train and a special fuel-injection system.
All of which gets laid down via an eight-speed automatic transmission and your choice of two final drive ratios. The standard ratio is 2.62:1, but you can opt for a shorter 3.09:1 diff for ‘enhanced launch capability’, that will launch the Redeye off the line to 100km/h in 3.5 seconds, and dispose of the standing quarter-mile (402 metres) in 10.8 seconds at 210km/h. With the longer diff and a long enough straight, the maker quotes a top speed of 326km/h.
The Redeye comes with a twin-scoop aluminium bonnet that harks back to the Chrysler muscle-cars of the 1970s (the scoops are not just for show; the left one leads straight into the air-filter housing), lightweight 20 inch satin black wheels (brass-finished five-spoked rims are an option) Brembo brakes, adaptive damping and traction control.
Also available will be a satin black-finished boot lid spoiler, and a widebody package that adds 44mm on each side to the width of the car, making room for 20 inch forged-alloy wheels shod with Pirelli P-Zero gumballs.
Inside, the Redeye has a leather-trimmed flat-bottom steering wheel and sports seats trimmed in Houndstooth cloth with silver contrast stitching; various combinations of leather and alcantara trim are available to order.
We don’t know how much longer Dodge will be permitted to make big-hearted redneck cars like this (there are persistent rumours that FCA is planning to phase out the Charger/Challenger line) but for now we’re just glad that they do.