A week with the monstrous 2017 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat

There are three things to know about the Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat: it’s fast, it’s loud, and you’re going to have to budget for speeding tickets. These attributes also mean the Challenger SRT Hellcat is extreme fun and wherever you go, heads will turn to look. Those were the lessons we learned after a week in this truly American muscle car.

The 2017 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat is big, wide, heavy, low, mean, and insanely muscular. Packing 707 horsepower (527 kW) under its hood, it can take the rubber off of its rear tires in just seconds. Yet it remains family-friendly, or at least family-friendly enough that it might (almost) provide an excuse for buying one.

The Challenger on the whole is a beautiful piece of nostalgic engineering with a throwback look that maintains a modern, and somewhat sinister, edge. Every Challenger model, including the V6-powered lower-priced options, has performance as its main driving force. As witnessed in our week with the Challenger GT.

It’s when Dodge gives the Challenger to its SRT performance house that things get a bit crazy. For the Hellcat model, SRT added a lot of air movement goodies to the car, including the immediately-noticeable extra air intakes on the hood flanked by vents to push it back out. A more aggressive front air spoiler sits below the bumper at about curb height and some 20-inch wheel options (common on most V8-powered Challenger models) become exclusive to the SRT Hellcat. Brembo braking and an aggressively-tuned sport suspension are also standard equipment on the Hellcat, along with quad exhaust tips to let the big engine exhale.

And exhale it does. The deafening sound that the powerful 6.2-liter V8 puts out as the supercharger pumps to 707 horses and 650 pound-feet (881 Nm) of torque is beautiful. Those maximum outputs come at 6,200 and 4,800 rpm respectively. They can be had through either a six-speed manual transmission (standard) or an eight-speed automatic transmission.

We drove the latter and would, if given the choice again, stick with it. Enthusiasts might scream at that, but the automatic is both smoother and faster than the manual and it takes a lot of weight off of the driver’s attention, enhancing safety. Something that’s important when you have a street-legal hotrod that can accelerate faster than a plane on takeoff.

Dodge says that the SRT Hellcat Challenger can go from 0-60 mph (0-92 km/h) in 3.6 seconds with that automatic (3.9 with the manual). In our real-world, public road, amateur tests we were averaging 4.5 seconds with the auto.