Do you throw the kids in the back and go drag racing with them on the way to Grandma’s? Do you try to get out of the drive-through window at Starbucks in under half a second? I’m not really sure what Chrysler was thinking when it greenlighted the 707-horsepower Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat. And I’m really sure I don’t care—because this car is one growling piece of fun.
Yes, the Hellcat bolts off the line like a cheetah locked on an antelope, as in 0 to 60 mph in 3.5 secs. Your trip to 100 mph takes just a trice longer. Feeling the g-forces, which you can track on the instrument panel, just adds to these briefest of pleasure trips. Chalk it up to the 6.2-liter, supercharged V-8 Hemi engine. It’s the biggest power plant to wear the Hemi badge in a production car—by comparison, note that NASCAR is running at 725 hp this season. A few more horses and you and Dale Jr. are trading paint, right?
Not really. Let’s face it: You’re not going to spend most of your time driving over the speed limit, and certainly not at 200 mph. Even on a track, this beastie will spend most of its life under 150 mph.
The big surprise in this package—and a genius rationalization for buying one—is that the badass-looking Hellcat is an absolute pussycat at highway speeds. The car is relaxed, comfortable with its lower-speed self. Why? The tach is reading 1,200 rpm, meaning the engine isn’t breaking a sweat, even if you are getting twitchy to floor it. When you combine with the car’s racing suspension and powerful Brembo brakes, you actually get the ultimate cruise machine: a rock-solid and quiet ride. And those seats. Money’s test car, a don’t-mess-with-me shade of black, had tan leather seats that reminded me of a beautiful baseball glove. It was like sitting in the pocket of a classic leather Wilson or Spalding, but ready to be slung forward like a Nolan Ryan-Randy Johnson-Aroldis Chapman fastball.
Drawbacks? Sure. Feed the kitty with high-test gas and you’ll get maybe 20 mpg on the highway. We averaged in the mid-teens. And in addition to feeding those horses all that gasoline, you’ll pay close to $100 per horse for the Hellcat version, which in our test car included extras such as a power sunroof and a very good Uconnect 8.4-in. touchscreen infotainment system. But what the Hellcat—that’s the price of unstinting, unrestricted, and unusually plush power.