WR Long-Term Garage: 2015 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat
By Bradley Iger
July 13, 2015
Photos by Felix Salazar
It’s been a while since we’ve had a long term test vehicle at the Winding Road offices, so we thought we’d reintroduce the idea with something special.
No doubt you’ve read our review of the Hellcat coupe from our stint behind the wheel in Portland last summer and our notes from wet track driving from earlier this year, but now we’ll have the opportunity to see what the 707 horsepower muscle coupe is like to live with year-round. Well, almost year-round. We've got this bright red bruiser in our garage for six months, so come December the folks from Dodge are under the impression that they’ll be getting the car back. We’ll see about that.
Regardless, that gives us enough time to live with the most hellacious of Challengers through a Los Angeles summer, fall, and into what many hope will be a rain-filled winter season.
Dodge was kind enough to let us spec out the car that was to be built, so we thought we’d do our own riff on the “hero car” that the company used to introduce the world to the idea of a 707 horsepower muscle car. Accordingly, we opted for the TorRed paint hue, the 20 x 9.5-inch forged aluminum wheels with the bronze finish treatment (aka the “Brass Monkey” wheels), and the only exterior element that deviates from the aforementioned example - the satin black hood.
There’s another reason we chose that particular exterior color scheme: Not only do these elements compliment the by-default matte black pieces like the fuel filler cap, aero bits and other accents, but since Dodge also offers the Black and Ruby Red interior color scheme as a no-cost option, it gave us the ability to really scratch that itch for continuity throughout the car, extending the exterior theme inside as well.
All in, it brings the Challenger’s tally up from a base price of $58,295 to $60,475 before tax and destination – not bad considering everything this car comes equipped with, like six-piston Brembo brakes with 15.4 rotors up front, three-way adaptive suspension and of course that 707 horsepower, 650 pound-foot monster under the hood that comes down like Thor’s hammer every time you decide to get a little frisky with the throttle. It sounds pretty good, too:
Once we’ve finished fawning over our good fortune, the plan is to approach this long-term test a little differently from the typical format. In in the span of six months (and with one driver at the helm for the vast majority of the time), it’s unlikely we’ll run into much in the way of maintenance issues - though we’ll certainly note those if we do.
Instead, we’ll focus on some of the aspects that make this particular car interesting – its versatility and sheer scope of performance. For many potential Hellcat buyers, this is their first exposure to automotive performance at this level – in terms of sheer thrust, this kind of moxie was formally exclusive to six-figure supercars.
That’s no longer the case, but are we giving anything up in the process? To answer that, not only are we going to revisit Auto Club Dragway in Fontana this summer to see how the car fares with dry tarmac to use and hot track temperatures to contend with, but we’ll also be taking the car on a road trip outing with a full complement of passengers and gear to see if this beefed up coupe still excels as a grand touring machine and family hauler as well.
Of course, we'll also be commuting through daily Los Angeles traffic to see if we’ll end up regretting that third pedal, and (assuming it ever rains in Southern California again) getting a feel for what 700 ponies is like to contend with in inclement weather.