After months of teases as well as speculation on the very existence of the fabled and often rumored 6.2 liter “Hellcat” V8, Chrysler has finally unveiled the 2015 SRT8 Challenger Hellcat which brings even more power to the Challenger lineup while also giving the company a legit competitor against rivals such as the Chevrolet Camaro ZL1, and the Shelby GT500 Mustang.
The exterior styling of the Hellcat shares much of its basic layout and theme with the rest of the recently unveiled Challenger lineup, However, Chrysler designers have given the Hellcat a Viper inspired hood scoop which not only enhances the visual impact of its styling versus that of its siblings, but also teams up with the larger front air takes to funnel the copious amounts of air required to keep the supercharger spooling. The rear end in contrast is standard issue Challenger, and features the same independent tail lamps and styling revisions that made their inaugural debut on lesser grade Challengers. A welcome addition is the slick 20 inch forged alloy wheels which are standard equipment on all SRT8’s and add a nice visual touch to the car’s profile.
Performance figures for the 6.2 liter “Hellcat” V8 have not been officially released as of this report, but in a prior statement to Hot Rod magazine in April. SRT CEO Ralph Giles hinted that the “Hellcat” may actually be more powerful than the SRT Viper stating “We have a situation where, you know — we may have a situation — where the flagship car is not the most powerful car in our arsenal… how do we explain that to ourselves? So we have an internal horsepower race as well as an external one.
Our view on this particular issue is that while the new engine may indeed live up to Dodge’s claim of “600 plus horsepower”. It’s important to remember that the Challenger is one of the heavier entries in the pony car segment, and as such we suspect some of that excess weight (as well as its inferior aerodynamics when compared to the Viper) will perhaps keep it from truly beating the aforementioned model. In a curious move, torque figures were also not announced, but prior speculation did state that the engine is capable of producing 600 lb-ft of torque which would put the big Dodge ahead of the Chevy but behind the Ford in that particular area. All of this muscle is sent to the rear wheels through either a six speed Tremec manual gearbox, or an optional eight speed automatic with the latter being the most capable eight speed in the Chrysler lineup thanks to its ability to handle 30 percent more engine torque (which outshines its other eight speed offerings). Meanwhile the carryover 6.4 liter naturally aspirated V8 also returns for 2015 in standard SRT8’s, but has been tweaked to produce 485 horsepower and an equally potent 475 lb-ft of torque (gains of 15 horsepower and 5 lb-ft respectively).
Owners looking to keep the engines full potential to themselves will be happy to hear about the all new Valet system which can only be unlocked with one of two key fobs. The mode alters the engine mapping to reduce overall output, and implements a 4,000 rpm redline, while the transmission completely locks out first gear, and also shifts earlier than usual which should keep overeager valets (as well as teenagers) from prematurely wrecking the car. The fore-mentioned 20-inch wheels also house some potent rubber with standard SRT8’s receiving either 245/45ZR20 Goodyear RSA2 All-Season tires, or optional Goodyear F1 Supercar Three Season tires. Hellcat variants raise the wick an extra degree by offering stickier P275/40ZR20 Pirelli Zero Nero four season tires which boast a lofty Y-plus rating that allows the tire to be used at high vehicle speeds. When it comes time to bring all of this muscle to a full stop, the Hellcat also boasts the most powerful front brakes ever offered on a SRT product with meaty 15.4 inch Brembo two piece rotors and six piston calipers providing the bite necessary to bring this furious feline to a safe halt from any speed. The uprated hardware is also available on standard SRT8’s but only on those equipped with the optional Track pack.
Interested in putting an SRT8 Hellcat in your garage? Chrysler did not release official pricing for the Hellcat but expect it to be on par with the ZL1 and GT500 which means a low to mid $50,000 base price. While this is a lofty figure, the sheer amount of power and character the Hellcat wields is enough to justify paying the premium price tag, and should also allow the car to stand out from not only its domestic rivals, but also indirect ones such as the Nissan GT-R and the Porsche 911 Turbo. We look forward to perhaps sampling one ourselves, but in the meantime Chrysler has released pictures (the bright red is the Hellcat, black is the standard SRT8) as well as a brief video which can both be seen below.