Caraganza First Drive Review 2021 Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat Redeye Widebody: The devil is in the details

 

2021 Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat Redeye: The most powerful and fas
A couple of years ago Dodge sent me a Hellcat for a week, two in fact several months apart. In January of 2018 it was a Charger SRT Hellcat, followed by a Challenger a few months later. Both those weeks came just a year after Dodge had revealed the “Demon” a limited production model of the Challenger that delivered an insane 840 horses. With just 3000 made, and sold, I knew I would never get a chance to get behind the wheel of something like that, unless of course I was ever hired as a professional racecar driver.

However, considering that many years before I had a brief “career” in motor racing that proved I was really terrible at it, added to the fact that I am approaching the age when I can collect social security faster than I ever did the competition on a track, meant that a call like that would never happen. But I enjoyed my two weeks with the Hellcats. That Demon played on my mind though and made me secretly wish for a little more.

Be careful what you wish for.

Last week yet another Hellcat showed up in my driveway. This one was very special for a couple of reasons. First, unlike the previous ones which came with only the black key that restricted the horsepower to 500 (and rightly so considering press fleet vehicles change hands weekly to people who have varying degrees of proficiency behind the wheel), the 2021 Charger SRT Hellcat Redeye delivered to me had the all-mighty red key (insert chorus of Angels here), meaning the horsepower was unrestricted. And, about that horsepower: a “normal” Hellcat (though any Hellcat is really far from anything normal), belts out 707 horses. The Redeye bumps the horsepower up to 797. For comparison, the Demon had 840. So, it was about as close as I would ever get to a Demon.

The key to the power, in all Hellcats, is a supercharger under the hood. While both V8s are 6.2-liter Hemis, regular Hellcats have a 2.4-liter supercharger and 11.6 psi of boost, while the Redeye has a larger 2.7-liter screw-type supercharger that produces 14.5 psi of boost. The redline is also higher, 6500 rpm compared to 6200 rpm. The Redeye engine needs so much fuel to keep fed, it has two fuel pumps instead of one. Inside the Redeye V8 there are beefier rods and pistons, a stouter valvetrain, and increased oiling. With 707 pounds of torque the drivetrain gets strengthened as well, including according to Dodge, a 15-percent stronger driveshaft, a 20-percent stronger axle, and a stronger torque convertor.

The Redeye also gets Dodge’s Power Reserve feature, which pre-pressurizes the intake manifold for better throttle response, as well as the Power Chiller, which uses air conditioning refrigerant to help cool the intake air.

The Redye is the Widebody which Dodge introduced to the Charger in 2020. The Widebody adds 3.5-inches of body width with integrated fender flares. The Charger lineup has the Widebody as an option through the lineup up to the Hellcat and Redeye where it’s standard.

Having the Redeye as a model with a wider stance is a very good thing, It allows for 20-by-11-inch lightweight Carbon Black wheels that hold wide Pirelli All-Season 305/35ZR20 tires. And the Redeye needs all the rubber that can be put on the pavement. There’s also a redesigned hood that has a larger cold air scoop and two heat extractor vents.

In short with a top speed, according to Dodge, of 203 miles per hour, this is the fastest production sedan. In.The.World. All of this for under six-figures. Most models with options coming in around $85-90,000, making the Redeye something that many performance cars aren’t, affordable.

And I couldn’t wait to take to the road. Where there were, naturally, a few hiccups.

As I’ve pointed out before, having over 500 horses on the street can be a very dangerous thing indeed. With the ability to crank those horses up to nearly 800 away from a racetrack is near ludicrous.

The race-inspired interior of the Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat Wide

Via the SRT Performance Pages the settings for steering, suspension and of course the engine for the Redeye can be tuned to suit any need. In “Eco” mode the engine is restricted to 500 hp, while the “Track” mode is full on 797 ponies, wide open, we don’t need no stinking traction control. There is of course a launch control, and a line-lock which holds the front wheels in place used to warm up the tires prior to a race on the ¼ mile, but which can make anyone look like a smokey tire burnout expert.

Needless to say, since I was in possession of the almighty red key (insert chorus of Angels here), I started out in the full Track mode. Bad idea.

With all the power available, normal driving is nearly impossible. Sure, you can stop easily enough. But trying to simply pull slowly away from a stop light ain’t happening. At least not without a little practice. Even at 50 mph aggressive acceleration results in a chirp. Hearing that siren of a supercharger combined with the roar from the exhaust at any speed is a soul-satisfying symphony, however.

When not at an actual racetrack, under the right conditions, meaning a lonely road with no traffic, having all that power is pure joy. I was able to drift like a pro and 0-60 came in at around 3 seconds. A ¼ mile around 125 mph. For a sedan with a base curb weight of 4,610 pounds, that’s basically like a concrete block with a rocket engine. Despite the rocket block appearance, the Charger, especially in this Widebody configuration is surprisingly nimble. No, on a curved track the Charger might not be a match for say an F1 car, but an F1 car doesn’t have room for five, AC, and 16.5 cubic feet of truck space.

Oh, and if you’re concerned about fuel mileage, move along. The supercharged V8 Hellcat Redeye has two fuel pumps remember. 12 mpg around the city, 21 highway and 15 combined isn’t anything to brag about, but you don’t buy such a thing as the Hellcat if you’re worried about saving money at the pump.

The Charger styling might be getting a bit dated, but honestly when you’re flying down the road you can’t see all that from the inside.  And that inside is still a very nice place to be. Leather trimmed seating, with heat and ventilation, a power-adjustable steering wheel, and a nice sounding 6-speaker Alpine audio system.

You’ll be a target for every teenager with a souped-up rice burner wanting to race you from a stop light, hoping for glory. With great power comes great responsibly, however. Though I might have put a young Golf owner in his place on a two-lane highway entrance ramp. I might have waited until he took off and charged halfway up the ramp before I yawned and blew by him long before the ramp ended leaving him wondering what had just happened. I don’t condone such things however, though it’s nice to know you can.

Speaking of teen drivers, the thought of a young driver getting behind the wheel of 797 horses is terrifying to me. Even 500 makes me shudder. Because one thing Dodge didn’t add were all the nanny features common today. Beyond blind spot mirrors and a rear traffic camera with cross traffic warning there is nothing like “lane-assist” or “forward collision warning” or adaptive cruise control.

It’s a good thing that Dodge offers a full day of professional instruction at the Radford Racing School in Arizona to anyone who buys a new Dodge SRT, including the Hellcat. It’s there that drivers learn all about their new cars in a controlled environment with a professional instructor. Something that I hope every new SRT owner takes advantage of, but specifically those opting for the Redeye.

At the end of the day the Hellcat, and with it the Redeye are insane. But I’m glad they’re on the road. Sure, in the wrong hands they could be dangerous, but behind the wheel this old muscle car lover never stopped smiling. While the Hellcat is nice, the Redeye is nicer. I finally got to live out my Demon dream for a week, and I’m glad I did.

With an affordable price, lots of room and ample truck space, they can actually be a practical addition. Just leave the red key at home except when it’s time to go to the track.

The 2021 Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat Widebody
MSRP: $69,995
MSRP: $86,865
Engine: 6.2-liter supercharged high output Hemi V8 797 hp @6,300 rpm, 707 lb-ft torque at 4,500 rpm
Transmission: 8-speed shiftable automatic
Fuel Mileage (EPA): 12 city, 21 highway, 15 combined
Fuel Mileage (as tested, mixed conditions): 13 mpg
Base Curb Weight: 4,610 lbs.

Exterior Dimensions
Length: 201.0 in.
Ground clearance: 4.5 in.
Height: 57.6 in.
Wheelbase: 120.0 in.
Width: 78.3 in.

Interior Dimensions
Front leg room: 41.8 in.
Front shoulder room: 59.5 in.
Front hip room: 56.2 in.
Rear head room: 36.6 in.
Rear hip Room: 56.1 in.
Rear leg room: 40.1 in.
Rear shoulder room: 57.9 in.
Maximum cargo capacity: 16.5 cu.ft.
EPA interior volume: 120.8 cu.ft.

Warranty
Basic: 3 yr./ 36000 mi.
Drivetrain: 5 yr./ 60000 mi.
Rust: 5 yr./ unlimited mi.
Roadside: 5 yr./ 60000 mi.

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Greg is a published award winning sportswriter who spent 23 years combined active and active reserve military service, much of that in and around the Special Operations community. Greg has been published in major publications across the country including the Los Angeles Times, the Cleveland Plain Dealer and the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. He was also a contributor to Chicken Soup for the NASCAR Soul, published in 2010, and the Christmas edition in 2016. He wrote as the NASCAR, Formula 1, Auto Reviews and National Veterans Affairs Examiner for Examiner.com and has appeared on Fox News. He holds a BS degree in communications, a Masters degree in psychology and is currently a PhD candidate majoring in psychology. He is currently the weekend Motorsports Editor for Autoweek.

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