The title was going to be “Dodge’s 2012 Challenger SRT8 is leg-humping good” because that’s how strongly I feel regarding this ground thumper. It makes me feel like a juvenile delinquent, it sounds amazing and the performance has recently gone from good to fantastic.
1. Dodge had no choice. They had to give the Challenger SRT8 an automatic transmission and their 8-speed automatic isn’t ready for production yet. So, rather than settle for the mediocre old-school 5-speed, Dodge revised that transmission and put in a significantly improved 5-speed with paddle shifters.
2. Normally, I hate paddle shifters. They are a poor substitute for the feel and connection of a manual transmission. With that said, I know there are people out there who need someone to stir their coffee for them. The new feel of the transmission is excellent with more shift definition each gear swap under acceleration while maintaining smoothness while cruising. The paddle shifters snap through the gears rapidly. You can hold a gear to within a hair of redline before the gas cuts off to preserve the engine.
3. Speaking of engines, how does 470 horsepower and 470 lbs feet of torque grab you? The new 6.4 liter HEMI V8 is a lively beast. It has cylinder deactivation to allow for up to a 25% mpg improvement (over the previous SRT8) without any noticeable loss of power. The sound – – – oh THAT sound… it thrums and vibrates at idle and cries like a banshee all out. It’s distinctive, addictive and makes my nether regions rather happy. When it becomes time to stop the proceedings, the new brake system will bring the 2012 Dodge Challenger SRT8 from 60 to 0 mph in just 117 feet. That’s damn good.
4. Dodge has massively improved the handling and ride. Everything feels lighter and tighter. The most notable addition is the adaptive dampening system (ADS) that works like a regular shock absorber on the road and will tighten to race-car-like stiffness when engaged. It has to be felt to be believed.
5. Even the interior has had some improvement with an excellent, all new steering wheel that no longer looks like a self parody. The seat trims and door panels have more decorative options and the overall feel is of higher quality. Add to that a beefy 900 watt, 18 speaker stereo system by Harmon Kardon that’s lighter and less power hungry while providing better sound quality.
Yup, one of my favorite cars and yours gets better. There are a few points that Dodge will have to work on in the immediate future. It’s not terrible, but the sea of blackness looks like a Spinal Tap record cover. The dashboard needs a little something-something to improve the look.
Automotive media, racing, vehicle evaluation, wrecking yards, and car sales are just a part of Nathan Adlen’s vehicular past. He writes out of high octane passion! To read more reviews by Nathan Adlen or just to enjoy more of excellent writing please visit him on at his examiner.com page HERE.