With April’s reveal of the all-new, 808-horsepower* Dodge Challenger SRT Demon, it’s all too easy to feel as though the SRT Hellcat, with its humble 707 horse count, has been rendered obsolete. That would be a mistake, of course; the Hellcat, overshadowed by the Demon though it may be, is nonetheless an impressive, angry, snarling beast of a car with more than enough potency to vanquish most everything else from stoplight to stoplight.
Plus, with the introduction of the SRT Demon came a revitalization of sorts to the Hellcat, in the form of the new Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat Widebody. The hellacious new model utilizes the Demon’s 3-inch fender extensions to accommodate a new, broader set of wheels with 305-section tires front and rear, delivering something that every pre-Widebody Hellcat could use: more grip. The change is enough to chop one tenth of a second off the Hellcat’s 0-to-60 time, and 0.3 seconds off its quarter-mile, says Dodge, but on the racetrack is where the upsized tire contact patch makes the biggest dent.
An Ideal Track Day Toy
Earlier this week, we were invited out to the Midwest Automotive Media Association’s annual Track School at Gingerman Raceway – an event meant to help automotive journalists hone their performance driving skills in the relative safety of a modern racetrack. Dodge was kind enough to sponsor, supplying cars from the Dodge Charger Daytona 392 to the all-new Dodge Durango SRT, plus a triplicity of Dodge SRT Hellcat Widebody models. Of course we had to give the latter a go on the 2.21-mile road course.
It is officially time to give up any lingering notion that the Hellcat is only good in a straight line. Emboldened by its newfound front-end grip, the SRT Hellcat Widebody carves up corners with aggressive abandon, thanks to a quoted 0.97g of lateral grip – 0.04g better than its standard-width counterpart. The new model is more neutral at the limit, too, being much less prone to understeer than its forebear, while still unlikely to catch the driver out by trying to swap ends. Like the regular Hellcat, it breaks traction gradually, predictably, giving the driver plenty of chances to correct its trajectory.
We’d call it a pussycat, were it not for its big, boisterous supercharged 6.2L V8.
Since its introduction just a few short years ago, the SRT Hellcat engine has become a veritable icon, nabbing countless headlines and making lesser engines all across America feel quite inadequate by comparison. That engine remains the captivating pièce de résistance in the SRT Hellcat Widebody, thanks to its intoxicating exhaust note, shrieking supercharger whine, and gobs of thrust. It may be down a hundred horsepower* relative to the new, 808-horsepower SRT Demon V8, but trust us: no Hellcat customer is being shortchanged in the engine department. Even better, the Widebody allows the driver to use even more of the engine more of the time, thanks to the aforementioned acceleration benefits delivered by its wider tires.
Ultimately, what we’re left with is possibly one of the best and most user-friendly track day toys the wizards at Mopar have ever concocted. It’s less liable to bite your head off than a Viper; less prone to plow through corners than a regular Hellcat; capable enough to embarrass any SRT 392; and still quiet and comfortable enough to take on any road. Bring it to the drag strip, sure, but don’t neglect to take it to a road course every now and again. To do so would be an utter waste.
*The 2018 Dodge Challenger SRT Demon makes a claimed 808 horsepower on pump gas; race fuel is required to unlock the full advertised 840 horsepower.