NEW YORK: Dodge bills the Hellcat, with its specially tuned 707 HP Hemi engine, is regarded as the most powerful American muscle car ever.
Hennessey was in no mood to quibble with the assertion, as far as factory versions go. His company modifies performance cars well past that threshold. One of his creations holds the record for world’s fastest sports car. His modified GMC Yukon Denali with a curb weight pushing 6,000 pounds jumps off the line and will give any muscle car a run for its money in the first eighth of a mile while turning in an elapsed time under 14 seconds. But the Hellcat provides its thrills with no modifications or trips to the tuner shop needed.
Hellcat owners must only pore over the owner’s manual and try to decipher the myriad different settings provide by the touch-screen interface with the car’s sophisticated computer controls. Every element of the drive train, or so it seems, can be tweaked with the right sequence of touches.
Off the track in city traffic, where most driving takes place, the Hellcat is plenty nimble and responsive. With a suspension far tighter than the mushy RT version, the car announces the presence of every bump, crack and pothole on Houston’s streets. There is no way around it. The advantage over rivals Ford Mustang and Chevrolet Camaro is enough weight and heft to keep the pain to a minimum.
Of course, Challenger’s weight and longer wheelbase are disadvantages for those who do their sport driving on road courses. And before the Hellcat was born, critics also chided the Challenger for not packing enough oomph, especially when Mustang and Camaro began to offer versions with well over 500 HP.
Dodge did not want to sacrifice comfort for road-course performance, CEO Tim Kuniskis said, but it did take to heart the power shortage. So the Hellcat was conceived, specifically designed to kick butt in a straight line while still offering a roomy interior, pretty much any luxury amenity desired, and a trunk that can hold golf clubs, the kids’ sports gear and some luggage – at the same time.
So far the reviews are good and the factory cannot yet keep up with demand for the Hellcat whose base model comes in at $60,000.