Each year, the Motor Press Guild invites journalists to participate in the ultimate track day where the latest and greatest cars from various manufacturers get put through their paces on the different courses at Willow Springs Raceway. This event is an excellent opportunity for automakers to showcase their performance focused vehicles as well as upcoming models.
After we recovered from the shock of learning that the Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat would have 707 horsepower, the next question in our minds was “can it handle the turns of a race track?” Thanks to MPG Track Days, I was able to find out for myself, and the answer is a resounding “yes!” I turned in three laps on the 2.5 mile road course at Willow Springs Raceway in a Sublime Green Hellcat, and it was glorious.
The video doesn’t quite do it justice, but the sounds that emanate from this machine are so satisfying. The roar of the exhaust coupled with the supercharger whine is exactly what muscle car enthusiasts long for. I spent quite some time leaned up on the pit lane wall, just listening to the Challenger launch onto the track, and each time it blasted by I couldn’t help but think, “God bless America!”
The Challenger is a heavy car at 4,160 lbs in SRT trim, but it’s by no means sluggish. If you respect the car’s weight and manage momentum in the corners, it’s a very predictable and fast ride. The engineers at SRT have done a great job in putting together a balanced and capable active suspension package that produces minimal body roll during hard cornering without sacrificing overall ride quality.
Power from the supercharged 6.2-liter HEMI comes on smoothly and the 650 lb-ft of torque made accelerating out of the corners effortless. I thought I would be more intimidated by this rear-wheel drive monster, not knowing when the back tires would break free and punish me, but it actually inspired confidence and stayed very composed.
I think it’s safe to say the Challenger Hellcat is living up to its hype. It delivers one of the most satisfying driving experiences, from the sounds to the power to the way it makes you feel; this one has muscle car written all over it.