PORTLAND, Maine – The supercharger whines happily as the 6.2-litre HEMI V8 roars all the way to its 6500-rpm redline on the straightaway next to the paddock area at Club Motorsports. The highly mechanical sound of the juiced-up engine immediately brings to mind the famous American saying: “There is no substitute for cubic inches.”
In this case, we’re talking about a 378.347 cubic-inch mill, one that endows the new and exquisitely ferocious 2019 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat Redeye Widebody with nearly 800 horsepower (797 to be exact) and more importantly, 707 pound-feet of torque.
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That has got to be the longest official name for a production car right now. Let’s say it again: Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat Redeye Widebody. And I thought only Harley-Davidson could come up with such a complicated model designation!
Beyond this mouthful, what we have here is a brand-new version of the Challenger that joins the MY2019 catalogue, elevating the SRT Hellcat to near Demon-like levels of performance. It’s a unique addition that is sure to catch the attention of musclecar lovers and remind them that the Challenger is still capable of impressive feats despite its advanced age.
Whereas the Demon was tasked with shredding drag strips into pieces using its otherworldly straight-line acceleration skills, the Redeye Widebody is more about dissecting corners, even on a road course. That’s why our first drive with Dodge’s latest beast took place on the fabulous track at Club Motorsports, cut into the lower mountains of New Hampshire. Featuring 15 turns over four kilometres with an elevation change of 250 feet, this private raceway proved to be an ideal playground for journalists to test the Redeye Widebody.
Mechanically speaking, the 2019 Dodge Challenger SRT Redeye Widebody boasts the same engine as the SRT Demon save for the air intake. The latter can generate up to 808 horsepower (or 840 when fed with actual race fuel) thanks to an oversized “Air Grabber” hood scoop, which results in the front wheels leaving the ground at take-off and the car posting insane quarter-mile times. However, the Demon’s top speed is rated at 269 km/h, while the Redeye can exceed 320 km/h.
Obviously, that kind of velocity couldn’t be achieved with the Air Grabber, so FCA engineers instead fitted the Redeye with a lower-profile, dual-snorkel system that maximizes high-speed aerodynamics. The downside is that the supercharged 6.2-litre HEMI loses 11 horsepower, bringing its total to 797.
Hellcat Brakes and Suspension
The 2019 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat Redeye Widebody rides on the same suspension system as the Hellcat. The big Brembo brakes are identical, too, except that they benefit from extra cooling thanks to a pair of inlets integrated to the front fascia. On the track at Club Motorsports, these powerful brakes impressed us as much as the powerful engine, especially when braking hard at the end of the main straightaway leading to turn 1. While the course is fairly challenging, the Redeye Widebody showed tremendous poise and that includes the quick succession of turns 7, 8, 9A and 9B (all left turns). Needless to say, the massive 305/35ZR20 Pirelli P Zero tires helped a lot.
The advanced electronics deserve praise as they allowed us to make full, efficient use of the devilish power and torque. That said, the gas pedal must be treated with the utmost respect, otherwise the Redeye Widebody will easily and quickly spin around its axis. On the other hand, the car weighs more than two metric tons, with a 57/43% front/rear weight distribution, and you have to be able to swing that mass laterally when switching from a left turn to a right turn. Overall, the Redeye Widebody can definitely put on a show on the track, but its dynamics have real, tangible limitations.
Inside, two irritants quickly reared their ugly heads. For starters, the sport seats are designed with large body types and daily comfort in mind, which means that they lack lateral support. Additionally, the dead pedal should be wider to allow you to pin yourself to the seat more easily and not have to hold the steering wheel as much. Life inside the Redeye Widebody is pretty much the same as in the SRT Hellcat, with astounding sound effects from the supercharged block filling your ears most of the time.
The 2019 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat Redeye Widebody occupies a premium spot in an ever-growing lineup. Things will now get more complicated for the automaker, mind you, because there will come a time when simply upgrading a car built on a two-generation-old Mercedes-Benz E-Class platform won’t be enough.
Yes, today’s Challenger is a very sharp musclecar with numerous variants appealing to numerous (albeit small) crowds. However, one day Dodge will have to turn to the future and develop new platforms, just like Ford and General Motors are using massive resources to keep their Mustang, Camaro and Corvette alive and relevant. We can only wish the same for the Challenger…