Just in time for Cruise: Dodge releases hell-raising Charger SRT Hellcat

Henry Payne

Driving Woodward Avenue this week after the flood, you might have considered an outboard motorboat or an ark to gather all the Detroit Zoo animals. But come Saturday’s Dream Cruise, you’ll want something appropriate for cruising with the family.

How about a roomy, 204-mph sedan that seats five and does the quarter-mile as fast as a Ferrari Enzo?

Dodge has your car. Chrysler’s performance brand rolled out a fire-breathing, 707-horsepower 2015 Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat to a mob of media on Wednesday. Dodge plans to show this bad boy at 13 Mile and Woodward at this weekend’s Cruise. It’ll be on dealer lots early next year.

Simply put, says Dodge CEO Tim Kuniskis, the four-door muscle car “is the quickest, fastest and most powerful sedan in the world.”

The Charger is the second Hellcat badge (inspired by the Hellcat Grumman fighters that dominated the Pacific skies in World War II) for Dodge. The Challenger SRT Hellcat was introduced earlier this year. Both share the same menacing looks, the same red-tinged leather interior and the same supercharged 6.2-liter V8 which boosts output over the already ferocious 375-horsepower, 5.7-liter V-8 in the Charger and Challenger models.

The “family sedan” Charger is not only roomier than its coupe cousin — it’s faster. The Charger Hellcat will giddyap down a quarter-mile drag strip in just 11 seconds, two-tenths quicker than the Challenger Hellcat.

“This car goes where most brands wouldn’t go in this market,” says Kuniskis. “Sometimes you need to stop listening to the focus groups. The Charger Hellcat redefines practicality.”

The Charger Hellcat achieves its quicker acceleration and 200-plus top speed versus the Challenger (a mere 199 mph) thanks to slipperier aerodynamics. Dodge has not released pricing, but expect similar sticker numbers to the $59,995 Challenger Hellcat — including gas guzzler tax. Guzzle it will, with the pedal mashed to the floor and the kids pinned to the backseat, but Dodge also promises 20 mpg highway thanks to Chrysler’s efficient 8-speed automatic transmission.

The Charger Hellcat will brake as hard as it accelerates thanks to huge, 15.4-inch Brembo rotors with six-piston calipers. The largest brakes ever offered on a Chrysler-group vehicle reside inside 20-by-9.5-inch forged aluminum wheels with Pirelli P Zero performance tires.

While rocketing from 0-60 mph in the same 3.6 seconds as a $100k Jaguar F-Type, Hellcat passengers can enjoy the comforts of premium black Laguna leather seats while wrapped in fashionable red seat belts. The interior will feature four color options, says Dodge SRT’s chief interior designer, Ryan Nagode. An artful, aluminum-bezeled control panel includes an 8.4-inch touchscreen featuring Chrysler’s award-winning UConnect infotainment system.

Aware that absolute power corrupts, Dodge has equipped the 707-horse beast — nearly 100 ponies more than a Corvette ZR1 — with two keys. A red key will give drivers access to peak power. A black key will limit the driver to only — only? — 500. Concerned that a restaurant valet may be tempted for a joy-ride? Dodge offers a “valet mode,” a key code that limits engine revs to 4000 rpms while locking out access to first gear and disabling the steering-wheel mounted paddle shifters.

Hellcat introductions have vaulted Dodge to the No.1 most-searched brand on the Internet. Hell, yeah.

Henry Payne is auto critic for The Detroit News. Find him at or Twitter @HenryEPayne.