Why stop there? That simple question, probably posed shortly after the successful debut of the 707 hp Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat in 2015, likely got things started. Why stop, indeed! So FCA’s engineers went back to work looking to make more power. And in 2018 they shocked the world with the widebodied Dodge Challenger SRT Demon, capable of making 840 hp! But with a planned production of only 3000 US units, not everybody could sell their soul for this sports car. So why stop there? With everything that the engineers had learned in the past 3 years, why not give that power to the people? So…they did. The resulting production car, officially known as the Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat Redeye with Widebody Package, is a crazy ride.
A crazy ride is how Scott summed up our friendship when he asked me to be his best man. I think I owed him one last crazy ride as a bachelor. So with the help of FCA’s press team, we were lined up for a weekend golf and driving adventure to Lake Placid. It was time to unleash the Hellcat in the wild!
How do you produce 797 horsepower and 707 lb-ft of torque? The devil, if you’ll pardon one last Demon pun, is in the details. More power requires more air and more fuel. The Redeye’s new dual-snorkel hood, dual Air Catcher headlamps, and additional inlet near the wheel liner feed a larger induction box. That, in turn, feeds the larger 2.7 L supercharger. Dodge cranks up the boost pressure from 11.6 psi in the “standard” Hellcat to 14.5 psi in the Redeye for maximum effect. To make use of the extra air, Dodge has fitted a revised fuel injection system and an extra fuel pump to feed this hungry beast. At WOT, it’s capable of consuming 1.43 gal/min! All the extra power can’t have an impact on reliability, so the Redeye gets strengthened connection rods and pistons, a high-speed valve train, and an improve lubrication system. Impressively, the Redeye can rev another 300 rpm above the Hellcat, now redlining at 6,500 rpm. A beefier Torqueflite 8HP90 eight-speed automatic transmission, high-strength steel prop shafts, and 41-spline half shafts help the drivetrain cope with the immense torque.
The Challenger is a roomy vehicle. It had no problem packing away 2 sets of clubs and 3 duffel bags in the trunk. We’re also glad that the Challenger’s rear headroom is better than many crossovers. Three adults fit in the cabin with ease. With the red key in hand, a tap of the start button unleashes hell. The Redeye fires to life with a bark and emits a bellow at idle reminiscent of a power boat. Unique start-up animations on the UConnect screen and a 220 MPH speedometer clue you into the Redeye experience. Our first 100 miles saw us head from Albany up the aptly-named Adirondack Northway. The Challenger soaks up the miles with ease, cruising happily at whatever pace the driver sets. But with vast torque reserves, more speed is a brush of the accelerator away. Stay in the throttle for any period of time and the Redeye will quickly pull you into triple digit, double-speed-limit territory and show no signs of running out of steam.
Turning off the highway and onto local roads, we carved our way through the Adirondack mountains. Dialing the Challenger’s drive settings to Sport firms up the steering response, adaptive suspension, transmission programming, and throttle response. Instantly, the Challenger feels sharper, crisper, and dare we say…composed? You can absolutely push the Redeye Widebody harder than any other Challenger we’ve driven.
The Widebody Package, a $6,000 option that packs a visual punch, completely changes the driving experience. The car is now 3.5 inches wider, has larger six-piston Brembo brakes, and upgraded suspension. All four corners are fitted with unique 11-inch wide forged aluminum wheels wearing 305/25ZR20 Pirelli P-Zero tires. The added grip helps the Redeye feel less skittish than the regular-bodied Hellcat. Surprisingly, that builds confidence behind the wheel despite the power increase. Make no mistake, the Redeye can and will unstick itself, but the limits are higher and the level of control once the grip gives up is vastly improved. The Challenger even proved its capability driving in a torrential downpour. With the power turned down and some sensible driving, the ultra-wide tires manage to stay connected to the road surface.
Theatrics surround the Redeye, from the bejeweled emblem on its flank to the possessed shriek of the supercharger. Its a car that comes with its own soundtrack and smoke show. And it always draws a crowd. We receive frequent kudos from drivers, motorcyclists, and pedestrians alike – more than any other car we’ve driven. We made one Model S P100D driver so insecure about his very existence, he sped off to escape our spectacle. The Plum Crazy Purple color and dual carbon stripes draw attention even when the Redeye is parked silently. We met a young boy while we played a round of mini golf who timidly asked if we could “leave loud”. He received our most exuberant departure of the week, which left him and his father with massive grins. It’s hard not to grin with the Redeye around. It’s the absurdity, the sound and fury, and the reputation.
It’s a crazy ride. Some may balk at the as-tested price, but we found nothing to argue with. Find another car for under $100k with nearly 800 horsepower that you can use every day. There isn’t one. And that’s not even the appeal. Depending on who you encounter, the Dodge Challenger evokes nostalgia, admiration, or desire. Everyone we met had a Challenger story and nobody walked away without a smile on their face, ourselves included. The Redeye takes that formula and turns it up to 11 when everyone else just stops at 10. Thanks to Dodge for not stopping there.
|2019 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat Redeye
|Plum Crazy Exterior Paint||$70|
|Customer Preferred Package 27Z||$11,000|
|Alcantara Appearance Package||$1,795|
|Driver Convenience Group||$1,095|
|Harmon Kardon Audio Group||$1,595|
|Dual Carbon Stripe||$995|
|Pirelli 305/35/ZR20 P Zero Summer Tires||$695|
|UConnect 4C Nav w/ 8.4″ Display||$795|
|Black Brake Calipers||$495|
|Gas Guzzler Tax||$1,700|
|As Tested MSRP||$87,975|