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When the Germans or Japanese want to turn one of their standard road-going cars into a performance vehicle, they tend to carry out a host of changes. These include but are not limited to, shedding weight by using aluminum or carbon fiber, squeezing more power from the engine by adding bigger turbos, and adding fancy electronic systems like torque vectoring for better handling. But the Americans have adopted a slightly different approach and to better explain what we mean; we’ve got the Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat Widebody!
What the Americans have done is that they’ve taken the standard Challenger, shoved a huge 6.2-liter HEMI V8 engine under the hood, slapped on a supercharger, and made it produce 707 horsepower and 881 Nm of torque. To help this monstrosity breathe, the hollow headlamp surround acts an air intake, while three functional hood scoops aid it in cooling.
Dimensionally the Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat Widebody is 9cm wider than the standard car and the pronounced fender flares aren’t just a fashion accessory. Beneath them sit sticky 305-section Pirelli performance tires as opposed to the skinny 275-section tires on the standard car. Moreover, the chunky tires sit on 20-inch forged aluminum alloy wheels and hide red Brembo performance brake calipers behind them.
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What’s surprising is that even though the Hellcat is the performance version of the Challenger, Dodge hasn’t cut back on comfort or practicality. While most other performance cars get uncomfortable bucket seats, the Hellcat gets soft, sofa-like seats that make sure you are comfortable no matter how long the drive. Retaining its focus to the driver, the entire dashboard is very driver-oriented with plenty of soft touch materials and carbon fiber trim for that added sportiness.
On the tech front, the Hellcat is fitted with an 8.4-inch U-connect infotainment screen that is packed with built-in navigation, Bluetooth connectivity, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. Being an SRT, it also receives ‘Performance Pages’ – gauges that help track performance, in addition to cruise control, blind spot monitoring, and a rear-view camera.
Under the bulging hood of the Challenger SRT Hellcat resides a 6.2-liter supercharged HEMI V8 that pushes 707 horsepower and 881 Nm of torque through an 8-speed automatic transmission to the rear wheels. It’s worth noting that since there isn’t any traction control system smart enough or tire wide enough that can manage all that power and put it down responsibly, the Challenger Hellcat would not be your best weapon if you’re edging to set a new lap record.
To make sure you win nearly every drag race you participate in, the Challenger Hellcat is fitted with some interesting tech. For instance, Line Lock locks the front wheels and lets you spin the rear wheels to warm them up for better grip. Then there’s Launch Control, which limits wheel spin and allows you to get maximum acceleration by holding the revs at 2,500 RPM. And finally, after you launch, there are shift lights in the instrument cluster that illuminate to help you shift at the perfect time using the paddles behind the steering wheel.
With five drive modes, the Challenger swaps through personalities relatively easily and can go from a somewhat-manageable super car killer to an all-out tail-whipping muscle car in the click of a button. The good thing is that each mode can be customized individually, should you wish to have the engine, transmission, and traction control in Track mode but the suspension in Street mode. While on the topic of the suspension, it is a 3-mode Bilstein adaptive damping system that can be set on the softer side for regular driving or stiffened up for track driving.
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If you’ve read this far, you’re probably wondering what makes the Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat Widebody different from its main rivals the Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 and Ford Mustang Shelby GT350. In recent years both the Mustang and Camaro have been focusing their attention on handling and improving their performance around a racetrack. The same cannot be said about the Challenger. The Challenger isn’t bothered with setting new lap record, instead, it’s more concerned with offering a pure American muscle car experience and that, it does exceptionally well. Here in the UAE, that experience will set you back 339,900 Dirhams and let us say, it’s oh so worth it!