A day out with Dodge’s fleet of muscle cars is always going to be a good experience…
So there we were, on a steamy afternoon at the Yas Marina Circuit, with Dodge’s entire range of American muscle lined up waiting, from the V6 Challenger right up to the mighty 700hp Charger Hellcat and SRT Viper V10.
Saving the best for last, we were first let loose on the standard passenger range of SXT and R/T models. The car I went for first was the Charger SXT, with the 3.6l Pentastar V6. I
recall having a go in the very first of the modern day Charger LX platforms with its 250hp 3.5l V6 way back in 2007, and being distinctly unimpressed. It felt unwieldy, overweight and sluggish, and completely uninspiring.
I’m very happy to say that the latest V6 Charger is in an entirely different world. The 3.6l Pentastar puts out 292hp and 350Nm of torque, but the improvement is far greater than the 42hp difference suggests, thanks to how the power is put out through the TorqueFlite eight-speed auto, as well as a vastly improved chassis that makes the new Charger feel more taught and agile. Despite being a V6, the SXT still feels beefy and enjoyable to drive, making it worthy of the Dodge muscle brand
Despite being a V6, the SXT still feels beefy and enjoyable to drive, making it worthy of the Dodge muscle brand.
Inside things are also vastly improved – even this low-spec SXT is well appointed, with keyless entry and start, a stylish interior, and a sporty looking dash layout with a seven-inch reconfigurable digital cluster display. Now it was time to move on to the goodies, namely the R/T Charger and Challenger. Both feature Dodge’s meaty 5.7l HEMI, though in the sportier Challenger coupe the powerplant puts out slightly more horses, namely 375hp to the Charger’s 370, and 555Nm of torque to the Charger’s 536.
The difference isn’t noticeable when you put your foot down in both cars, although the shorter and lighter Challenger definitely feels more athletic than the sedan. However, both of them are true muscle cars, with big power, and huge fun. As for the Charger SRT, it definitely looks the part, with a big airscoop on the bonnet to help cool that 485hp 6.4l HEMI V8, and the Dodge ‘crosshair’ grille has been done away with in favour of a more sporty looking mesh grille. And then there are those lovely SRT alloys.
The driving experience is similar to the R/T, though you do feel the big increase in power from the 392 HEMI, and there’s a much meatier note to the engine.
The interior is also more snazzy, with very nice leather and Alcantara combination sports seats, and more features like Launch Control and the various SRT driving modes in the dash.As the day wore on time quickly began to run out, and as a result we were all given an agonizing choice – we had to choose between a drive in theCharger Hellcat, or a drive in the SRTViper. In the end, the V10 supercar won out!
Track time in the Viper was unfortunately limited to a few laps, and therefore recollection is scant. I recall a very stylish but snug leather cockpit, and that monstrous V10 rumbling and roaring as I wrestled it around the corners, though I also recall finding it a lot less scary than anticipated, with the 640hp and 813Nm of torque being contained and laid down on the track very well by a superb chassis and the Dynamic Traction control. It was a far cry from its ancestor, the original Dodge Viper, or widowmaker as it was affectionately known! Overall, a thoroughly rewarding day. I’m not sure, but I’m almost certain I found a few more hairs on my chest when I got home…