TESTED 4.10.18, USA ON SALE NOW PRICE $77,045 (APPROX £59,000)
Dragster-inspired SRT Hellcat Redeye edition pumps muscle car to extreme levels
Here’s an answer for those who think that the existing Challenger SRT Hellcat and its 697bhp 6.2-litre supercharged V8 are a little tame. This Redeye edition uses most of the same mechanical package fitted to the limited-run SRT Demon that was offered in the US last year for amateur drag racers, and which proved capable of turning in sub-10-second quarter miles.
The Redeye has slightly less power – 786bhp against the Demon’s 829bhp. Both use the same upgraded supercharger and have engines with strengthened connecting rods, stronger pistons and an upgraded lubrication system. It is definitely not a lithe sports car, with both sides of the Redeye’s power-to-weight ratio being almost equally well stacked. By Dodge’s official numbers it weighs 2050kg, yet is still claimed to be capable of both a 3.4sec 0-60mph time and a top speed of 203mph.
It’s as ridiculous as you would hope and expect it to be. At everyday speeds, the Redeye is pretty civilised for something with such outlandish statistics. The ride is pliant at low speeds, if a little under-damped, and the light steering is accurate and free of slop. Cabin materials feel (and smell) cheap, but it seems well screwed together and, although old-fashioned, the simple design suits the car’s complete lack of pretension.
From the driver’s seat, it is often hard to remember just how much cartoon aggression the steroidal styling is projecting, especially in the Widebody version, which has chunky arch extensions to cover fatter tyres.
The glove might not be silk, but there’s definitely an iron fist inside it. Push beyond the top inch or so of the throttle pedal’s long travel and the Redeye’s character changes, exhaust note hardening and thrust turning immediately serious. Push harder and it just gets progressively angrier, especially once the supercharger starts to add its wail above 3000rpm. Well before the pedal reaches the floor, your brain will be telling you the Challenger is giving its all, but there is more to come; fully unleashed, the car can spin its speedometer in a way that’s reminiscent of a sports bike, with some truly startling figures arriving amazingly quickly.
It’s very important not to be distracted by the numbers, nor the way the scenery is blurring in the side windows. Try to slow, or turn, the Redeye and you’re left in no doubt of the very considerable forces at play here; it’s alarmingly easy to find yourself approaching a corner carrying way too much speed. Because, while the Redeye copes with bends reasonably well, they aren’t its forte. Especially as sending any significant amount of torque to the rear axle in a slow turn results in the stability control effectively abrogating responsibility. Even with everything fully switched on, the Redeye slithers to rakish angles under power on dry Tarmac.
The Redeye also has a launch control system designed to maximise drag strip performance, but it is also possible to fully disable the traction sentinels – in the same way you could choose to wrestle a bear. Fully unshackled, the Redeye vaporises its rear tyres off the line, although easing the throttle slightly does persuade it to hook up. It’s not the most effective way to deploy its huge performance, but it’s certainly fun.
In the US, it makes a strong bang-per-buck case for itself, but Dodge has given up on the UK and there is close to zero chance that the Redeye will come here officially. The Challenger is getting old and lesser variants are falling into obsolescence, but the SRT versions still provide plenty of marketing sizzle, and it’s hard not to see the appeal of this most muscular of muscle cars.
As with the regular Hellcat, the inner pair of headlights are blanks, with running light rings but no central element. The holes are used to channel air into the engine bay. MD
Price $77,045 (approx £59,000)
Engine V8, 6166cc, supercharged
Power 786bhp at 6300rpm
Torque 707lb ft at 4500rpm
Gearbox 8-spd automatic
Kerb weight 2050kg
Top speed 203mph
Economy 19mpg (est)
CO2, tax band na
Rivals Chevrolet Camaro ZL1, Ford Mustang Shelby GT500