Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat Redeye Overview: It’s insane, but…
Even if you’re not part of the muscle car fan club, you know what the Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat Redeye is about. You start with the standard 717 horsepower SRT Hellcat and its supercharged 6.2-liter V8. Then you take what’s already an over the top car and add another 80 horsepower into the mix. The result? The most powerful production car you can buy for under $100,000.
With 707 lb-ft of torque, this berserk example of American power can explode from a dead stop to 60 in 3.4 seconds, provided you can actually get the rear tires to hook up on the launch. Fortunately, the engineering team thought of that. Despite all the grunt, the Challenger Hellcat Redeye gives you plenty of tools to make that power so much more accessible than you might think looking at the car on paper.
I’ll admit it freely: With my only “Hellcat” experience to date being the four-wheel drive Jeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawk, I was hesitant to really drive the Hellcat Redeye. Not only is it rear-wheel drive with only 43 fewer horsepower than the limited-run, drag strip-focused SRT Demon, but it’s not exactly cheap. Fully-loaded, our Challenger came in at $92,445. “One wrong move, and I’ll be in for a world of pain,” I repeatedly thought.
That was, until I actually drove it.
Performance: Hellcat to look at, pussycat to drive
Granted, the Ford Mustang Shelby GT500 comes with a still substantial 760 horsepower. That’s not far off the Challenger Hellcat Redeye, but there’s a key difference at play. Ford’s spent the past five years of the S550 generation refining the Mustang into more of a bona fide sports car. With independent rear suspension, a trick dual-clutch automatic transmission and an baked-in philosophy aimed toward agility and lightness, it’s much more of a technical affair than what we’re dealing with here.
That’s what originally worried me about the Challenger. Mind you, all that power is riding on what is, at its core, an old-school platform. This is a muscle car through and through, and while that’s great on the drag strip, you’d expect armageddon if you open the taps on public roads. You’d be wrong, though.
After just a few moments behind the wheel, I went from reticently tapping the gas pedal to opening it up and howling with laughter like I had when I drove the Trackhawk. Only this time, it felt even more like a road-going rocket.
Despite all the thunderous rage lurking under that bulging hood, the Challenger Hellcat Redeye was nothing short of a blast to drive. Thanks to the fantastic stability control systems onboard (provided you keep it out of track mode on the streets, you lunatic), all 797 horsepower is astoundingly accessible, even if you try to hoon around more than you probably should.
Don’t worry, you can still embarrass everything else on the road
Now, you can’t have 797 horsepower at your right foot and not act a bit like a hooligan. The Dodge Challenger Hellcat Redeye proves the expression about absolute power, and that corruption took hold of me almost immediately. No, this car is not delicate about how it accelerates in any way, shape, or form. Even with the traction control on, I spun up the rears through first, second and third at half-throttle pulling away from dead stops. There’s so much brute force, though, that you’re simply catapulted to whatever speed you dare before almost anything else on the road can react.
That’s a huge part of this car’s charm. Knock the eight-speed automatic transmission back into Drive, drop the hammer, and any car in your rear view will disappear into a tiny speck faster than you can blink — not to mention the blood-stirring supercharger whine and roaring V8 soundtrack that comes with it. Once the 305-width Pirelli P Zero tires contain the fury, the Challenger Hellcat Redeye is nothing short of a hard-charging beast.
On top of the sheer grunt, the Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat also comes with Line Lock, launch control, an after-run chiller and six-piston Brembo brakes as standard equipment. The Redeye Widebody is a $17,600 upgrade and adds a higher 220 mph speedometer, a “Power Chiller” to further prevent heat soak, the Pirello P Zero performance tires and competition suspension.
Comfort: Soft and compliant when you want it
Even with the volcanic power at your disposal, the Challenger doesn’t strain at the leash like some high-strung performance cars. It’s still a big, comfortable American cruiser, with plush leather seats and a comfortable ride. Keep all the settings in “Street” mode, which you can do through the SRT Performance Pages shown below, and the Challenger works well as a long-distance cruiser. The adaptive suspension comes standard on all versions of the Hellcat, including the Redeye.
Heated “Houndstooth” cloth seats come standard, while the Laguna leather seats in our test car are a $1,795 option. The $2,095 Plus Package adds ventilated seats, premium stitched dash and door panels, as well as a power adjustable steering column. Other comfort upgrades include the $1,795 Harman Kardon Audio Group which adds an 18-speaker stereo system; a $1,295 Driver Convenience Group that adds blind-spot detection, HID headlights and power-folding mirrors; a $1,595 Carbon and Suede interior package; and the $795 Uconnect 4C Nav package. The “Warp Speed” granite wheels add $1,295 to the total price, while the SRT performance spoiler on the trunk is another $995.
Verdict: A fantastically fun muscle car, even with its flaws
It’s tough not to be in a state of constant giddiness with 797 horsepower. This particular car also arrived at our HQ finished in “Frostbite” blue, which earned a major thumbs up from our entire staff as well as other drivers on the road. It’s difficult to criticize the Redeye’s comfort, ease-of-use and menacing style, but the car does have some notable down sides.
The price is a sticking point, naturally, as $92,445 is a big ask for a Challenger. That said, we are talking about one of the most powerful production cars period, let alone for that kind of money. Still, it is still a hefty sum over a standard Hellcat, and more than double the price than all the power you’d really need in the real world: the 485 horsepower Challenger R/T Scat Pack.
Another elephant in the room is, well, the fact that it’s a bit of an elephant. At 4,492 pounds, it’s nearly 300 pounds heavier than a Shelby GT500, and 500 pounds heavier than a Chevy Camaro ZL1. With an aging platform and nose-heavy 57/43 weight distribution, it’s not a finely-balanced sports car. What it is, however, is a delightfully insane package that remains true to its muscle car roots, even as the world moves on to more sophisticated pastures.
If you have the cash to buy it (and fill it up often, as I struggled to manage more than 13.5 mpg), a 797 horsepower kick in the kidneys is a gift that will just keep on giving.
2020 Dodge Challenger Hellcat Redeye Specs:
|Base Price:||$80,190 (including dest. & gas guzzler tax)|
|Engine||6.2-liter supercharged Hemi V8|
|13 City / 21 Hwy / 15 Comb.|
(13.5 mpg combined observed)
|Drivetrain layout:||Front-engine, rear-wheel drive|
|Suspension:||Front: Independent SLA with high upper “A” arm and Bilstein ADS shocks|
Rear: Five-link independent with coil springs and Bilstein ADS shocks
|Brakes:||Front: 15.4-in. two-piece vented & slotted discs w/ six-piston Brembo calipers|
Rear: 13.8-in. vented & slotted discs w/ four-piston Brembo calipers
|Dimensions (L x W x H):||197.5 x 78.3 (Widebody) x 57.5 (Widebody) inches|
|Legroom (F/R):||42.0 in. / 33.1 in.|
|Headroom (F/R):||39.3 in. / 37.1 in.|
|Passenger volume:||110.1 cubic feet|
|Cargo volume:||16.2 cubic feet|
|Curb weight:||4,492 pounds (Hellcat Redeye Widebody)|
|Weight distribution (F/R):||57% / 43%|