They say that possession is nine tenths of the law, but we have to admit: it’s awfully tough to follow the speed limit behind the wheel of the Demon-possessed 2019 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat Redeye. Armed with a 797-horsepower version of the same supercharged 6.2L V8 that powered the discontinued Challenger SRT Demon, the new-for-2019 Hellcat Redeye is Dodge’s new top dog in the Challenger pony car lineup, offering similar levels of road and track performance, but without the same single-minded dragstrip focus.
Nor is the new Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat Redeye much of a track car – not even the Widebody model, what with its roughly-4,500 pounds of heft and its street-tuned suspension. That said, like the Challenger SRT Demon, the SRT Hellcat Widebody, and the new R/T Scat Pack Widebody, the Hellcat Redeye Widebody has significantly more mechanical grip than its narrow-body counterparts, thanks to its flared fender arches and the deeper wheels they’re able to accommodate.
We got to know the 2019 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat Redeye Widebody pretty well this week after spending the better part of a day at the wheel on both the street and the racetrack. Read on to find out what we thought.
On The Track
We took several laps of the road course at Club Motorsports in Tamworth, New Hampshire – a stunningly beautiful track carved into the mountainside near New Hampshire’s eastern border. Club Motorsports opened up its doors a little less than a year ago, and with 600 feet of total elevation change through the course of a full lap, it’s the perfect place to get intimately acquainted with any automotive chassis.
Our verdict: oxymoronically, the 2019 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat Redeye Widebody – a car that’s “possessed by the Demon,” as SRT puts it – is a pussycat. Not in a straight line, mind you; at just 11 horsepower shy of the headline-grabbing SRT Demon on premium pump gas, the Redeye’s 797 horses’ worth of thrust is more than enough to throw you back in your seat, chirping the tires through each of the first few shifts. It may not have the Demon’s TransBrake and Torque Reserve systems, but the Redeye is nonetheless relentless in how it can turn petrol into motion and tires into smoke.
No, the Redeye is a pussycat in that sense that, so long as it’s treated with a modicum of respect on the racetrack, it’s not likely to bite. The LX platform and its derivatives – LA included – excel at making absolutely vulgar quantities of power manageable, and the Redeye Widebody is perhaps the poster child of this. It’s more neutral at the limit than its 392-powered sibling, the new Challenger R/T Scat Pack Widebody (read the review here), thanks to its softer front suspension, and the car is slow to rotate, giving the driver plenty of time to work out how to navigate a corner.
Plus, there’s plenty of grip to burn through, thanks to the Widebody’s deep wheels and broad, 305-section Pirelli PZERO tires, which provide oodles of adhesion under cornering. Even weighing the same as some versions of the Ford Explorer, the Dodge Challenger Hellcat Redeye Widebody has some impressive road-holding ability.
Braking is provided by a standard SRT/Brembo High-Performance Brake Package, which features six-piston Brembo monobloc calipers up front, and four-pot calipers at the rear. SRT engineers saw fit to introduce new brake-cooling ducts across all 2019 Challenger Widebody models – including this one – as the Redeye’s incredible power was found to be too overwhelming for the brakes after multiple successive laps. During all our time on the track, we never experienced any signs of fade, but we weren’t about to ask if we could tape up the duct openings to see for ourselves.
What we did experience is strong, reliable braking performance lap after lap, although with so much weight in the nose (Dodge’s Hemi V8s feature cast iron blocks, despite the industry-wide shift toward aluminum alloy), the car squirms under hard braking. Still, slowing such a hefty car from well over 100 mph on Club Motorsports’ main straight time after time is no easy feat, yet the standard disc brakes proved up to the challenge.
But let’s be honest here: a track car the new Hellcat Redeye Widebody is not. While it does a satisfactory job of getting around a road course, its one real party trick is how it can blast out of corners like a bullet; by every other measure, it’s less-than-optimal for use on a racetrack. HPDE enthusiasts should look instead to the 2019 Challenger R/T Scat Pack Widebody, which is a more evenly-balanced, track-focused car.
On The Street
Without the Demon’s drag racing-inspired tech, or the sort of clever suspension and weight-saving features needed to make a true track car, the 797-horsepower Hellcat Redeye is most at-home on the street – an environment it happens to excel in. Dodge quite intentionally gave the car a pretty standard-looking Hellcat badge, its only giveaway a small, red jewel within the eye that’s nearly impossible to spot unless you’re looking at the car up close. It’s not quite what we’d call a sleeper, given its menacing looks and Hellcat badging, but few will suspect it’s anything more than an ordinary Hellcat – until it blows the doors off of one from a dig, that is.
Mashing the throttle unleashes a menacing, piercing whine from the supercharger, underpinned by the Hemi’s characteristic, deep rumble, as trees, shrubs, mailboxes, and everything else becomes a blur. The Redeye has nearly the same power-to-weight ratio as Ford’s limited-production GT supercar, despite weighing over a thousand pounds more, so it’s best to have a firm grasp on the wheel before stomping your foot on the right-most pedal.
At full bore, the Redeye’s ZF eight-speed transmission is best left in automatic mode, as keeping on top of that sort of thrust is a demanding enough task without having to worry about flicking the paddles at the right moment. Plus, the transmission’s programming does an excellent job of adapting to the driver’s right foot, kicking up early during normal cruising and letting the engine wring out to its power peak whenever your right foot gets to feeling a bit naughty.
Make no mistake: the new Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat Redeye, while “Demon-powered,” is no Demon. But that’s not really such a bad thing; in all likelihood, a majority of Demon owners will never take that 808-horsepower monster of performance to the dragstrip, meaning that clearly, there’s a demand for an 800-horsepower Challenger without the drag racing equipment. An even smaller share of SRT Hellcat or Demon owners are liable to take their cars out on a road course.
While some will undoubtedly question why on earth Dodge and SRT would produce a 797-horsepower pony car that’s only truly well-suited to the street, let’s just call the Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat Redeye what it is: a monumentally raucous good time at a not-unattainable price.
The new, 2019 Challenger SRT Hellcat Redeye will start at $69,650 before destination and gas-guzzler tax, while the Widebody version will start $6,000 higher at $75,650.