Dodge Demon wins the math

How do the Dodge Challenger SRT Demon's impressive numbers compare to other cars when you look at power-to-weight and cost? Quite well, it turns out.

Wayne Cunningham Managing Editor / Roadshow
Wayne Cunningham reviews cars and writes about automotive technology for CNET's Roadshow. Prior to the automotive beat, he covered spyware, Web building technologies, and computer hardware. He began covering technology and the Web in 1994 as an editor of The Net magazine.
Wayne Cunningham
3 min read
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The undisputed star of the 2017 New York Auto Show, the Dodge Challenger SRT Demon, makes its claim as the world's quickest production car, at 2.3 seconds to 60 mph. In fact, the Demon's popularity comes largely due to its specifications, as otherwise it remains a Challenger, one of 15 trim lines for that model.

Bugatti Chiron

The Chiron boasts 1,479 horsepower, although Bugatti only suggests a 0-60 mph time of under 2.5 seconds.

Andrew Hoyle/Roadshow

So how does the Demon compare, by the numbers, to last year's hypercar entrant, the Bugatti Chiron? Dodge posts a faster zero to 60 mph time, although Bugatti seems to have hedged a bit, merely saying the Chiron will get to 60 mph in under 2.5 seconds.

As to engine specs, the Demon boasts 840 horsepower out of its supercharged 6.2-liter V8 engine, while the Chiron uses 16 cylinders displacing 8.0 liters to make 1,479 horsepower. That's 105 horsepower per cylinder for the Dodge, and 92 horsepower per cylinder for the Bugatti. But that's also 135 horsepower per liter for the Demon, compared to 188 horsepower per liter for Chiron.

Power-to-weight* may be a more relevant stat for real-world performance. Here, the Demon should come in at 19.8, figuring a curb weight of 4,248 pounds if you don't pay the extra dollar to get passenger and rear seats in the car. The Chiron can claim 33.6 power to weight, based on its 4,400-pound curb weight. At a very rough guess of $99,000 for the Challenger SRT Demon, it gains an edge over the Chiron at $118 per horsepower, with the Bugatti costing a staggering $2,028 per horsepower.

2017 Chevrolet Corvette Z06

The Corvette Z06 comes up a little short when compared to the Demon's massive power output.

Chris Paukert/Roadshow

The Chiron is an extreme example, so let's look at something more attainable, like the Chevrolet Corvette Z06. Chevrolet posts a time of 2.9 seconds to 60 mph from its 650 horsepower 6.2-liter V8 engine. Going to the calculator, that's 81 horsepower per cylinder and 105 horsepower per liter, clearly less than the Demon. And at 3,524 pounds, the Corvette Z06 comes in with an inferior power-to-weight ratio of 18.4.

With that Corvette Z06, you'll be paying $122 per horsepower, so advantage Demon.

Tesla posts impressive zero-to-60 mph times for its Model S P100D: 2.5 seconds using the Motor Trend rolling start method. Using a conversion of 680 horsepower for its dual front and rear motor output we can't really say anything about power per cylinder or liter, as it doesn't have either of those. (Its range of 315 miles likely isn't too far from the Demon's, either.)

The Model S P100D's heavy, 4,941-pound curb weight doesn't help its power-to-weight ratio, which comes in below the Demon's 19.8 at only 13.8. As to cost, it's $134,500 for the Tesla, giving it a per horsepower price of $198.

Smart ForTwo

The Smart ForTwo looks surprisingly good when you consider its horsepower per liter.

Antuan Goodwin/Roadshow

OK, how about a much smaller two-door coupe, the Smart ForTwo? That ultra-economy car, with its 89 horsepower engine, makes it to 60 mph in 10.1 seconds. With a displacement of 0.9 liters for its inline three-cylinder engine, it calculates out to only 30 horsepower per cylinder, but an impressive 99 horsepower per liter, right on the heels of the Demon's 105 horsepower.

At only 2,050 pounds curb weight, the Smart ForTwo is much slimmer than the Demon, but its power-to-weight ratio only comes to a measly 4.3. As to price, you'll be putting up $165 per horsepower, based on the ForTwo's $14,650 sticker, making the Demon a better value.

Strictly by the numbers, the 2018 Dodge Challenger SRT Demon looks like quite a bargain compared to a wide range of available cars. Too bad Dodge only plans to build 3,300 of them.

*Power-to-weight is calculated by dividing the engine horsepower by the curb weight in pounds, and multiplying it by 100.

2018 Dodge Challenger SRT Demon crouches in wait at NY Show

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