It’s hard to think of another car that had as big of an impact on the automotive world last year than the 840-horsepower Dodge Challenger SRT Demon. But if you don’t already have one, you won’t get one. Not to worry, Dodge is spreading the Demon’s wealth onto it’s more attainable 707-horsepower Hellcat Widebody. But, this is about more than just looking fierce. So, time to let this cat out of the bag.
At the risk of turning away viewers, we’ll spill the beans right away, that the 2018 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat Widebody is essentially an SRT Demon without its 840-horsepower Hemi.
But like most things, the devil’s in the details; and diving into them, reveals that the Widebody is actually more than the sum of its parts. Those widened fenders from the Demon allow for stuffing in more road-gripping rubber, 305/35/20s in this case, which of course helps handling. Girth is good.
And, all of that rubber also allows you to launch a little better as well, dropping 0-60 by a tenth to 3.4-seconds and ¼-mile time to 10.9-seconds at 127.
Not that this Hellcat has magically become a kitty cat, there is still all of Satan’s fury you’re trying to transfer to the pavement. Thus, it’s still not for the faint of heart, or perfect for anything other than a fully prepped drag strip. Although, the long front stretch at Roebling Road Raceway certainly will do in a pinch.
You still have your choice of 6-speed manual or 8-speed automatic with paddle shifters.
We flogged both a Hellcat Challenger and Charger sedan around Roebling’s 9 turns in 2015, and found they were much more adept at destroying asphalt than clinging to it.
That has clearly changed for the better. Along with the wider tires, the Widebody gets new electric power steering; incorporated into the SRT performance pages so it can be adjusted independently, or as part of the preprogrammed drive modes.
But, even with handling improvements, some things have not changed. The Widebody still feels wide and heavy; perhaps taking out some weight and lowering it, would have been better than just adding wider tires.
But ohhhh that 707-horsepower engine! No surprise, power is more than plentiful, and it sneaks up on you quickly. There’s enough of it here to overpower any part of the track except the straight. You know it’s coming on in waves with the throttle down, so just plan accordingly. All told, it is a very controllable car… once you get a feel for it.
Of course it’s a 6.2-liter supercharged HEMI that’s providing all of that thrust, accompanied by a healthy dose of supercharger whine; same output as the original Hellcat, 7-0-7 H-P, with a massive 650 lb-ft. of torque.
On track, the manual paddles shifters for the TorqueFlight transmission were a tad slow to respond; but left in drive it always seemed to make the proper decision on its own. It’s hard to tell what gear you’re in anyway, as the readout is very small; but there’s so much torque, you never seem to be in the wrong one.
As before, you’re taking all of this in from the widest, most comfortable muscle car seat out there. And away from the track, the Challenger still offers a wealth of comfort for a wide range of people, and even a great highway ride.
To get wide and wicked with a Hellcat Widebody will cost you $72,590, 6-grand over a base Hellcat; though I’m sure not many people are actually buying base Hellcats.
So, this 2018 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat Widebody may not the perfect nail-downed trackalete, but it is still wildly entertaining. Also, Dodge understands their customers better than we do; and knows that any type of neutering of this beast would be unacceptable. It remains “the heavy-fisted muscle car brute with the soul of a Viper” that we’ve come to love, now just more track and street friendly. So, drivers, start your Hemi…and proceed with caution!
Engine: 6.2 liter
Torque: 650 lb-ft.
0-60 mph: 3.4 seconds
1/4 mile: 10.9 seconds @ 127 mph