When I first drove the 2018 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat Widebody, it was at a media drive event in Indianapolis. We drove the widened Hellcat Challenger on the road course at Indianapolis Motor Speedway and on local roads around the area. This combination of track time and road time left me with little doubt that the 305mm-wide tires at all four corners make a big difference in both launch grip and cornering grip, but at the end of the day, I “only” put about 100 miles on the car.
However, I recently spent two glorious weeks with the 2018 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat Widebody living at my house and during that time, I put well over a thousand miles on the 707 horsepower muscle car. During those action-packed test miles, I learned that the big rear tires on the Widebody Hellcat do make a big difference in launch grip. They help with cornering as well, but let’s be honest – far more people buying a Hellcat car are going to be more concerned with grip on a hard launch and in that area, the widened Challenger shines.
Details on the 2018 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat Widebody
Before getting into my views on the new 2018 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat Widebody, here is a quick look at the features and pricing of the newest Mopar muscle car to hit the market.
The 2018 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat Widebody has the same 707 horsepower Hemi and the same option of either a 6-speed manual or an 8-speed automatic transmission. The suspension system has been retuned for the wider tires and a new electronic steering system replaces the hydraulic system in the normal Hellcat Challenger, but for the most part, the Widebody Hellcat is mechanically identical to the original Hellcat Challenger.
The key difference is, of course, the wider body of the 2018 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat Widebody. All four corners have composite flares over the wheel openings, allowing the company to add wheels that measure 20x11 and new 305/35/20 Pirelli high performance tires. Compared those rollers to the 275mm-wide wheels on the normal Hellcat Challenger and you have more than an inch of extra rubber on the ground at every point of contact, but most importantly, the Widebody Hellcat has 10% more rubber on the ground where the power meets the road.
In short, the 2018 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat Widebody has a wider body, wider wheels, wider tires and a high tech steering system, as well as some new (for 2018) badging inside and out.
Can just adding wider wheels and tires under flared body parts really improve performance by a substantial amount? Take a look at these 3 ways Dodge could Improve the Hellcat Challenger, Charger for 2018.
Hell(cat) yes, they can.
Launching the Widebody Hellcat Challenger
If you look at the numbers published by Dodge, the 2018 Challenger Hellcat Widebody doesn’t seem all that much quicker than the original Hellcat Challenger. It will blast from 0-60 in just 3.4 seconds while running through the standing quarter mile in 10.9 seconds. For comparison, the original Hellcat Challenger had an official 0-60 time of 3.6 seconds and a quarter mile time (with the stock tires) of 11.2 seconds, so the Widebody isn’t dramatically quicker, getting to 60mph two tenths quicker while running the quarter mile three tenths quicker.
The advantage of the Widebody Hellcat Challenger isn’t so much how quickly it gets to 60 but rather, how much easier it is to get a good launch.
At this point, I have put tens of thousands of miles on Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcats, including my own daily driver, so I have had many, many opportunities to launch the 707hp muscle car with the factory 275mm-wide tires. I can pull consistent 3.8-second 0-60 times, with my best launches getting down to 3.6 and 3.7 with the stock Pirelli tires. On the other hand, the wider Pirelli tires with the new tread design allowed me to pull consistent 3.6-3.7 0-60 times with the Widebody car, getting down to a 3.5 on the street with the stock tires. My times weren’t dramatically quicker, but far more of my launches were in that mid-3-second range and far fewer launches resulted in heavy tire smoke.
Now, don’t get me wrong – the 2018 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat Widebody will absolutely roast the rear tires, but when you want the car to launch hard, the new 305mm Pirelli tires make a dramatic difference in grip on the average street surface. In fact, when tested side by side with an original Hellcat Challenger, the Widebody car will get out of the hole quicker time after time. Those 305 Pirellis will also let you use more throttle sooner once you are moving, so you can leave the line harder, but the Widebody Hellcat tires get far more grip through the top of 1st gear and into 2nd gear.
Along the same lines, when cruising at lower speeds and hammering the throttle, the normal Hellcat Challenger will happily smoke the tires whereas the Widebody Hellcat is much quicker to grip and go – making the wider Challenger better from a low roll as well.
In other words, the 2018 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat Widebody absolutely offers better performance thanks to the wider wheels and tires, offering significantly better low-end grip whether you are launching from a stop or stomping the throttle from a slow roll. It isn’t dramatically quicker than you compare the best possible launch by a regular Hellcat Challenger and the Widebody car, but the Widebody Challenger is just plain easier to launch, making those best times far more possible and more common. A great launch with an original Hellcat Challenger on the stock tires will yield a 3.7 0-60, but you can hit that number with a good launch in the Widebody Challenger, while a great launch with the wider Mopar muscle car will get you off of the line much more quickly than the skinnier version.
So, for all of those people insisting that the changes to the 2018 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat Widebody can’t make much of a difference, you are just plain wrong and you should stop making those comments on social media.
Whether or not that added grip is worth an extra $6,000 over the price of the normal Hellcat Challenger has to be decided on a buyer-by-buyer basis, but for someone who love the look (I love the look) and who wants better traction than what you get with a stock, original Hellcat Challenger – the 2018 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat Widebody is the answer.