“The golden era of the American muscle car has finally returned,” stated Najeeb Thomas after driving the Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat Widebody. Indeed, that very message was the mission of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles and its Street and Racing Technology (SRT) division as the company sought to develop higher power and performance across brands.
The Hellcat Widebody is the automotive equivalent to the big bully on campus—it’s all brawn, intimidating to look at, and can be a heap of trouble to the timid. The brute bellows with a 707 hp, 6.2-liter supercharged Hemi V-8, and carries drag-racing-inspired enhancements that optimize engine efficiency and cooling to make it a standout at standing starts. It’s the rush this Dodge delivers that evokes memories of youth and the wonder years of reckless abandon. “I’m taken back to when I was 16, playing eight-track tapes, and going on my first date,” mentioned David Mosteller. And more than one judge succumbed to their inner adolescent. “It was the only car we could—and did—do doughnuts in,” confessed Claude Yonnet. Kids, don’t try this at home.
But the Hellcat proved polarizing for our panel. “I just don’t get it at all,” admitted Beli Merdovic. Detractors cited a range of objections, from disappointment at the interior finish to difficult handling to overall styling. “Take the accountants out of the design process,” noted Jon Flint. For Reza Zamani, it was “too much beast, not enough beauty,” while Cheryl Holden was a bit more diplomatic, conceding that the Hellcat “deserves a place, just not in our garage.” At least one voice was far more favorable: “I think this car delivers exactly what it promises. In fact, it overdelivers,” said Russ Faulk. “This thing is good for as many smiles per mile as the supercars in the group.” For fans of Ferrari and Lamborghini, that’s basically blasphemy.
Engine: 6.2-liter, supercharged V-8
Power: 707 hp @ 6,000 rpm
Zero to 60 mph: 3.4 sec
Top Speed: 195 mph
Base Price: $69,795
Price as Tested: $75,585