Putting it simply, the 2015 Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat is the reason the letters O, M and G were invented.
This is not a confession, but we know of a Charger Hellcat that, well, let’s just say that it made the leap into hyperspace just about as fast as anything we’ve experienced. And without elaboration on the wheres, whens and who-bys that particular feat, we’ll note that the Charger Hellcat is a full-size four-door American family sedan.
Of course, it’s a family sedan that famously has 707 horsepower under the hood that, along with the Dodge Challenger Hellcat, is the first from the Chrysler Group with supercharging and the most powerful of any Chrysler Group to date.
Our experiences notwithstanding, according to Dodge, the Charger Hellcat’s capabilities include an NHRA quarter-mile elapsed time of 11.0 seconds. That puts, according to reports, a trap speed—the speed at the end of the quarter mile—about 120 mph. Zero-to-60 mph is under three seconds. Zero-to-100-mph-to-zero is accomplished in under 13 seconds. And top speed is, according to SRT, Chrysler Group’s performance branch, 204 mph.
And all this in a 4500 pound five-passenger four-door American sedan running on standard equipment rain-worthy street tires.
The heart of the Hellcat is, of course, that 707 horsepower supercharged pushrod V-8, in the classic manner of making American horsepower: take a big, simple Chrysler Hemi V-8, one cam and sixteen pushrods, and fill it full of air with a big supercharger, more subtle than the blower poking through the hood of a hotrod but in its own way more effective.
Buzzardette B.J. Killeen goes into loving detail about the Hellcat engine so we won’t reiterate here. Suffice that it’s an almost new engine from the naturally aspirated 6.4-liter Hemi in the Dodge Challenger Scat Pack, which itself makes a thumping 485 horsepower.
The effect is so much more, however. Roll down the window of the Charger Hellcat and give it about an inch of throttle. Hear the supercharger? It makes a whine that Dodge has made no effort to muffle. To the uninformed onlooker—onlistener?—it might seem something is wrong with the car. Those who know, however, are driven to their knees. And that again is with just a light touch on the pedal.
And that doesn’t include the exhaust. Just walking around the car as we did while taking photographs and it might as well be the staging area at the local drags. The sound of the exhaust, even at idle, does everything short of turning the concrete to gravel.
Turning that cacophony into acceleration requires a transmission, and the Hellcat gets a brand new one with its own designation. The 8HP90 paddle-shiftable eight-speed is 30 percent stouter than other Chrysler transmission. The rear axle is beefed up as well, with welded ring gears, shot-peened gear material, hardened shims, and a four-pinion differential. An asymmetric limited-slip differential has bias-ratio tuning which SRT says improves grip, stability and steering response, whether accelerating out of a corner or trail-breaking going in.
Not enough? As part of the Hellcat’s new Drive Mode system, the Charger Hellcat has an Eco mode, presumably for driving to and from more vigorous activities, which saves fuel with second gear starts and other shifting and throttle map changes. The Drive Mode system has as its default Street mode, that thanks to bypasses around the exhaust system’s rear resonators, gets louder when set in Sport and track loud when set in Track.
Another part of the Drive Mode system is variable suspension stiffness. One fault we’ve found putting other Challenger/Charger performance editions on the street has been shock absorber damping that isn’t up to the powertrain capabilities and vehicle weight. Although we didn’t take the Charger Hellcat to the race track, Sport and Track mode firm things up enough to sharpen the handling on cloverleafs and winding roads, at least those that are wide enough to accommodate the Charger’s girth, with a Bilstein adaptive damping system.
In addition to what Dodge calls “firm, maximum handling” of the Sport mode, Track mode adds performance shifting and gear holding. The eight-speed automatic transmission, dubbed 8HP90, is exclusive to the Hellcat Charger and Challenger.