2015 Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat First Drive: Dollar for Dollar the World's Best Sport Sedan
I have talked about the 2015 Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat at great lengths since it was formally introduced at the 2014 Woodward Dream Cruise in Detroit and with 707 horsepower, it is hard not to talk about this beast. The Charger has been one of the most powerful large sport sedans sold in the world and it isn’t hard to see why Dodge markets it as a 4-door muscle car. However, with the introduction of the 2015 Charger SRT Hellcat, it is no longer one of the most powerful sedans in the world – it was THE most powerful sedan in the world. Also, with a top speed of 204 miles per hour, the Hellcat Charger is the fastest 4-door sedan sold anywhere in the world while an NHRA certified quarter mile time of 11 seconds flat makes it one of the quickest production cars in the world, sedan or otherwise.
With bragging rights like the world’s fastest and most powerful sedan, I was a little more than excited to drive the 2015 Dodge Charge SRT Hellcat and last week, that dream became a reality as I traveled to our nation’s capital to spend the day behind the wheel of the 707 horsepower Dodge Charger.
Meeting the 2015 Charger SRT Hellcat
Our drive began at a hangar at Washington DC’s Reagan International Airport, where we were greeted by some 25 2015 Dodge Charger sedans all lined up. Every new trimline was present, including the SXT, the R/T, the Scat Pack, the SRT 392, the SRT Hellcat and even the new Charger Pursuit – but my sole focus was on the 707hp model. I was able to secure a red key fob to a Hellcat Charger for the morning drive to the race track and after sitting through the media presentation, it was time to drive.
While a great many of the other writers at the event took their time getting a coffee for the road or making a final bathroom stop, I quickly rushed to the 2015 Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat that would spend the next few hours in my possession. I started the engine and even at startup and idle, the Hellcat Hemi’s presence was obvious. The raspy roar of the 707hp Hemi during the fast idle stage or warmup was louder than most large sedans at wide open throttle, which was assisted by the echo of the hangar.
The echo of a hangar…and I am in the world’s most powerful sedan, so what would you do? That’s right – nice, hearty revs of the 707 horsepower Hellcat Hemi V8. It was music to my ears, as even bringing the engine up to midlevel RPMs were enough to deafen everyone who hadn’t gotten into a car yet. After a few more good, hard revs, I put the car in gear and headed to the exit. I was the first car to the door and as I pulled out onto the roadways around the airport, I realized that I was one of the very first people (outside of Chrysler Group employees) to drive the world’s most powerful sedan on the open road.
I had great expectations for the Hellcat Charger and it didn’t disappoint.
Driving the 2015 Charger Hellcat on the Road
The first leg of my drive was a trip from Reagan Airport to Summit Point Raceway in West Virginia. This gave me more than an hour to experience the 2015 Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat on a variety of road types, including a busy highway, twisty rural roads and everything in between. As I first pulled out onto the highway as we left the airport, I had to stab the throttle hard just one and when I did – even when rolling at 35-40 miles per hour – the Hellcat effortlessly spun the rear wheels. Really, anytime you want to spin your tires while driving the Hellcat Charger, all that you need to do is gear down and floor the accelerator pedal and the tires will spin, almost regardless of how fast you are moving. However, if you control the throttle with just a bit of restraint, you can make use of all 707 horsepower. While cruising down the highway, downshifting a few times and rolling into the throttle will have you comfortably doubling the speed limit within a few seconds. As the lightning quick 8-speed transmission downshifts and the engine builds RPM, the Hellcat Hemi roars like few other road cars in the world – none of which are sedans. The force of 707hp and 650lb-ft of torque throws you back in the seat as the car accelerates with what is nothing short of awe-inspiring.
I have spent plenty of time driving the Hellcat Challenger, and I was still blown away at how hard the 2015 Charger Hellcat accelerates and runs through the gears. The 8-speed transmission is a masterpiece, offering incredibly quick shifts under hard throttle while still being quiet and smooth when driving in normal traffic conditions. Really, one of the most impressive aspects of the Hellcat Charger is that when you aren’t driving it hard, you can hardly tell that there is anything special about this car other than the high end interior and the aggressive exterior. Sure, it is loud, but so are lots of cars sold in America that couldn’t hope to keep up with the Hellcat Charger. Even with the car set to full track mode with the 707hp engine setting, you can drive this car as easily as the V6 powered Charger SXT and while the suspension of the SRT models are a bit stiffer than the lower performance models, there is no real compromise in ride quality.
In other words, you can very comfortably drive the 2015 Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat to and from work every day, and you will do so just as comfortably as you would in any other large sedan sold in America. Since the Hellcat Charger has a high end version of the same interior layout as the high volume models, you get real seating for four adults with high end seating surfaces and a state of the art infotainment system. This high performance sedan does everything that you would expect a large sedan to do so there is nothing stopping someone from using this car as a very comfortable daily driver around town, sitting in rush hour traffic.
However, when you do put the pedal to the medal and allow all 707 angry Mopar-branded horses to stretch their legs, the 2015 Charger Hellcat will embarrass almost any car sold in America – sedans or not. Whether you are going from a stop, from a low speed roll or from a high speed roll, the Hellcat Hemi Charger offers instant acceleration like few other cars in the world. Some cars are better on the low end or mid-range…the Hellcat Charger is incredible at any point in the power band and I am confident that anyone who drives this car will agree with me. The claim to fame of the 2015 Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat is that it is the most powerful production sedan in the world, but it is every bit as impressive when compared to every production car sold in the USA – including 2-door models.
Driving the 2015 Charger Hellcat on the Track
The perceived downside to the 2015 Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat is that because it is a big, heavy sedan, it is only good for straight line performance. To dispel any of that nonsense, the destination of our first road drive in the Hellcat Charger was Summit Point raceway – a 2 mile road course in West Virginia that offered us a chance to push the car wide open on a long straightaway along with a collection of tight turns that would prove the Charger’s handling meddle.
In order to make sure that the 2015 Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat can handle and brake just as well as it accelerates, the team has fitted this 707hp Charger with an adjustable suspension setup and one of the biggest Brembo brake setups available on an American production vehicle. Even when blasting down the front straight at speeds in excess of 140 miles per hour, the huge brakes get the Charger down to a speed low enough to tackle the hard first turn with ease. Better yet, even after lapping Summit Point for hours, the braking system never seemed to weaken in its stopping power. When you set the suspension to the track mode via the huge touchscreen on the dash, the suspension stiffens up to allow this 4,500+ pound sedan to confidently handle even the sharpest turns at Summit Point Raceway. With this setup I was able to make the most of all of that power when coming out of the turns, although it takes more thought than just mashing the pedal as you hit the apex or you will get the rear wheels spinning. Fortunately, with just a touch of patience, the Hellcat Charger will rocket up out of the turns as well as any road car sold in America.
The time spent on the road course with the 2015 Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat made it very clear that while this car might be a quarter mile monster, it can also handle the turns with the best in the world. The videos below show a few of my laps in the Hellcat Charger from two different views so for a better look at what the 707hp Charger can do on a road course, crank up your speakers and enjoy these Hellcat Charger track videos. I have also included a video showing a group of Hellcat Chargers heading out onto the track and another showing some of those cars blasting past the starting line at speeds over 125 miles per hour. These videos all provide a great chance to hear the Hellcat Hemi roar…and as it is one of the best sounding vehicles on the market today, I suspect that everyone will enjoy watching these videos almost as much as I enjoyed making them.
The Final Word
The 2015 Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat is the most powerful sedan in the world and the fastest sedan in the world while the monster braking system and the high tech suspension setup make it one of the best road handling big sedans sold in the world. Combine with these legendary performance measures a Jekyll-and-Hyde-like ability to serve as a perfectly normal daily driver with tons of passenger space for the whole family AND a price starting under $64,000 – and you have yourself what I believe is the best large sport sedan sold in the world.
While it is easy for me to call it the best sport sedan in the world simply because it has the most power and the highest top speed, the true beauty of the 2015 Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat is that it can deliver all of the normal attributes of a full size sedan with performance capabilities that can make supercar owners blush. Oh, and it will do all of that for a fraction of the cost of many much slower sport sedans (and supercars) sold in the US.
Dollar for dollar – there is no sedan sold in the world that will compete with the 2015 Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat on all levels. Family car functionality meets supercar performance in one of the most amazing cars that I have ever driven.
Click any of the thumbnails at the top of the article for a closer look at my Hellcat Charger and enjoy my videos of the 707hp Charger in action!