The Demon’s in the details with Dodge’s terrifying car
New York – Forget muscle cars. No one does steroid-enhanced cars like Dodge.
Fiat-Chrysler’s performance brand introduced the much-anticipated sequel to its 707-horsepower, 6.2-liter, supercharged V-8 Challenger SRT Hellcat here Tuesday night ahead of the New York Auto Show: the 840-horsepower Challenger SRT Demon.
By now you know the Demon’s record-setting numbers: Fastest production car ever, zero-60: 2.3 seconds. Fastest 0-100: 5.1 seconds. Fastest quarter-mile: 9.65 seconds. But these numbers don’t tell the whole story.
What about that record 2.28-second Tesla Model S P100D zero-60 time?
According to Dodge boss Tim Kuniskis, Motor Trend’s independent test of Tesla’s super-EV included a roll-out — not an absolute standing start test. “Roll-outs aren’t a fair way to do zero-60, honestly. A real zero-60 is from a dead stop. But we included (a roll-out) anyway because we knew that question would come up,” said Kuniskis in the Big Apple. “You include roll-outs in our times and it’s 2.1 seconds.”
Remarkably, the Demon manages such feats with just rear-wheel drive versus the Tesla’s all-wheel drive
Dodge’s motorhead-in-chief is a rare bird. A drag racer himself, Kuniskis walks the talk. His words drip with scorn for the self-driving car trend, referring to its advocates as “the autonomous anonymous.” Kuniskis wants to make drivers’ cars.
“I want to walk you through a virtual run of what’s it’s like to run a Demon,” he said. “Activate your line lock. Start spinning your drag radials — get them hot and sticky. Over 200 degrees. You will literally have dripping rubber off of your tires. It’s pure car porn.” Does any other auto exec talk like this?
Demon from Hell
Dodge chose Pier 94 in New York’s Hell’s Kitchen district to introduce the Demon. Subtle.
A sequel for a sequel
Before the Dodge reveal on Pier 54, Dodge hosted an exclusive pre-screening for “The Fate of the Furious” at AMC Loews Lincoln Square Theater on Broadway. The eighth installment of the “Fast and Furious” movie franchise co-stars Vin Diesel and (natch) the Challenger Hellcat’s sequel, the Demon.
Speaking of Vin, the muscled celebrity was on hand for the Demon’s reveal, striding on stage after Kuniskis in a leather racing jacket. Diesel will tell you he prefers motorbikes, but he has a soft spot for Dodge. “I realize that I am part of a brotherhood,” he said. “The brotherhood of muscle that goes back to the Dodge Brothers.”
Skinny, not fat
That record-breaking 9.65 quarter-mile time was set on skinny, front dragster “runners” – just like the front tires you see on NHRA funny cars. The tires come in an available “Demon Crate” of drag-mod goodies, The runners store neatly in a foam insert in the trunk for transport to track. Leave the standard, 12.4-inch radials on the front and the Demon will be a bit slower — but still sub-10 seconds.
Wheelies on Woodward?
You bet. The Demon’s acceleration torque is so violent (a record 1.8 g-loads for a production car) that it will lift the front wheels in the air through first and second gears.
The National Hot Rod Association certified the Demon’s production-record setting quarter-mile time and then promptly banned the Demon. How come? “The elapsed time and the speed (140 mph) on this run exceeded the limits ... of our rules,” wrote the NHRA. “The car exceeds 9.99 seconds and 135 mph.”
That is, Demon should have a roll bar to legally run at those speeds.
To pack the 2.7-liter supercharger with enough cold air to make 840 horsepower, the Demon actually diverts its air conditioning to the intercooler to chill the air by 45 degrees. “So hot. Yet so chill” as Dodge puts it.
The Demon may be a stripped-down dragster (saving 200 pounds) to optimize performance, but it still comes with familiar options like power sunroof, heated leather seats, heated steering wheel.
Less familiar are for the missing front and rear passenger-seat options. You can have both for $2.
Dodge is mum for now, but chances are it won’t be much different than the $62,495 Hellcat because the Demon comes with so few amenities. If you’re one of the lucky 3,000 customers to own one, however, it should be worth every penny.
Henry Payne is auto critic for The Detroit News. Find him at firstname.lastname@example.org or Twitter @HenryEPayne.