First Drive: 2015 Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat

I felt like a scene from ‘The Matrix’ was playing out in my head as I stepped out the front door.

The Morpheus side of my brain was offering the Neo side a choice, only instead of a blue pill or a red pill it was a black key or a red key.

“You’re here because you know something,” the Morpheus side said. “What you know you can’t explain, but you feel it—you felt it your entire life.

“That there’s something wrong with the world.”

I did know that there is something wrong with the world: That there aren’t more outrageously fun, dual-purpose cars like the 2015 Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat on the market.

So I took the red key.

Always take the red key.

It’s true that 707 horsepower is a lot, and that’s to make no mention of the 650 lb.-ft. of torque generated by the supercharged 6.2-litre Hemi V8 shoehorned under the hood of the Charger Hellcat.

That those near-NASCAR numbers are made not in a European supercar but a Brampton, Ont.-built production sedan makes this car special.

What makes it extra special is how usable it is in just about any situation imaginable.

Cruising around town, the Charger Hellcat is as tame as, well, a Charger, hold the Hellcat.

Sure, it sounds mean, but if you’re gentle the burly sedan will act no different than any of the thousands of other Chargers out there.

It will seat four adults comfortably in the car’s suede-like Alcantara seats, a highly recommended no-charge option over the $1,995 Laguna leather package, while the trunk will fit just about anything this side of a flatscreen TV.

In short, if you want to use the Charger Hellcat as your family sedan then all the power to you.

All the power, indeed.

With the aforementioned red key in hand, the Charger Hellcat, like its two-door Challenger sibling, will put all 707 horsepower to the tarmac through its massive 275/40ZR20 rear tires.

(The black key limits it to only 500 ponies.)

To harness all the power put out by the supercharged V8 and its combined 8.6 litres of displacement, the Charger Hellcat gets a beefed up eight-speed automatic, a limited-slip rear differential and an impressive traction control system that can be disabled in Sport and Track modes.

I say the traction control system is impressive because, when engaged and working alongside the limited-slip diff, I have seldom felt acceleration like this car is capable of in any other vehicle, let alone one that puts power down through the rear wheels.

As a Motoring TV staffer commented to me from the passenger seat after a launch off the line, the g-forces generated during acceleration are enough to make it feel like there’s an NFL linebacker sitting on your chest.

Dodge claims the Charger Hellcat will scoot from 0 to 100 km/h in a nonspecific “less than four seconds,” while some media outlets have said it will do the run in the neighbourhood of three seconds.

Not wanting to explain to the folks at Dodge that I burned through the rear tires trying to find out, I took the gentle route and still hit the mark in 3.9 seconds on the skid pad.

That’s less than half a second slower than what Porsche claims the 911 Turbo and its $172,000 starting price will run to the same speed in, for those of you keeping score at home.

Don’t think for a second that this car is limited to straight-line fun, though.

Despite its massive proportions—this full-size sedan measures nearly 17 feet long and more than six feet wide—the Charger Hellcat turns from cannonball to wire-guided missile on the twisties, carving up corners far more smoothly than its 4,575-lb. curb weight would lead you to believe.

While heavy throttle during cornering is ill-advised, the suspension setup greatly limits body roll, keeping the car composed and, dare I say, sporty.

That sporty feel goes from mild to wild when Track mode is engaged through the infotainment system’s SRT Pages, where aggressiveness is cranked up on everything from the shift points to the massive brakes to make the Charger Hellcat feel like a race car with La-Z-Boy recliners for seats.

Switch it back to Default or Custom modes, where you can reduce power and responsiveness, however, and the Charger Hellcat returns to its tamer ways.

And at the end of the day, it’s the duality of this car that makes it so special.

For $75,000 you’re essentially getting two cars in one—an insane, outrun-the-world menace and a comfortable sedan that’s just fine for commuting.

If it were my money I’d skip right past the Challenger Hellcat and straight into this thing.

Because there’s something wrong with the world, and this is the answer.

Base price: $69,695

As tested: $73,635 (freight included)

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