2019 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat Redeye review: The 797-horsepower tire slayer
While a majority of automakers are looking toward the future, Dodge is mostly planted in the past. That's a compliment, by the way. After launching the retro-cool Challenger in 2008, Dodge has managed to keep it fresh more than a decade later, and the latest example is this absolutely insane SRT Hellcat Redeye.
An absolute monster
The Redeye boasts the 6.2-liter, supercharged V8 from the Challenger Demon, combined with a 2.7-liter supercharger -- the largest factory supercharger available in a production car, producing 14.5 psi of boost. Rather than the insane 840 horsepower of the Demon, the Redeye makes just -- just! -- 797, complemented by 707 pound-feet of torque. Two dual-stage fuel pumps feed premium octane into that V8, and Dodge says you can drain the 18.5-gallon tank in just 11 minutes if you run the car at full throttle. Insane.
Dodge says 60 miles per hour arrives in just 3.4 seconds, and you can rip off a quarter-mile time of 10.8 seconds at a trap speed of 131 mph. Top speed? 203 mph. In a Challenger. Seriously.
A car with this potential for high speed needs a special brake setup. Big Brembo stoppers do the trick here, with 15.4-inch vented and slotted rotors up front, squeezed by six-piston calipers. Behind the rear wheels nestle 13.8-inch rotors, with four-piston calipers. But even with these beefy brakes, stopping the Redeye isn't a touchy affair. These brakes are powerful, yes, but easy to modulate.
That said, it's not easy to manhandle this big boy around tight turns. My Redeye test car has the optional widebody kit, which adds 3.5 inches of width to the already wide Challenger, and puts 305/35-series tires at all four corners. The tires offer lots of grip, but at 4,500 pounds, there's a lot of car to move around.
The eight-speed automatic transmission does a great job of keeping the engine in the powerband, and the paddle shifters help me feel a bit more connected to the experience. Having eight gears should help efficiency slightly, but remember, you're still dealing with a car that's EPA-rated for 13 miles per gallon city, 22 mpg highway and 16 mpg combined.
SRT drive modes let you control the power delivery, transmission settings, traction control and suspension stiffness, and I find it best to use Sport mode, but keep the steering in Track for maximum heft. If you don't need all 797 horsepower hitting you at once, you can dilute the Redeye to produce a much more manageable 500.
And then, of course, there's the line-lock system, which keeps the front brakes clamped securely so you can warm the rear tires (or just do huge burnouts, if that's your thing). If you want to take advantage of launch control, opt for the available 3.09:1 final drive ratio -- it'll reduce your top speed slightly, but come on, it's not like you're actually going to be able to hit 203 mph anywhere anyway.
Performance options include the SRT Power Chiller, which uses the in-cabin air conditioner to keep the supercharger and air intake temperatures in check. Plus, the Redeye's After-Run Chiller keeps the coolant pump and engine fans running after the car has shut off, all in the name of optimal temperatures.
As far as driving aids go, there aren't many to speak of. I'm glad a car this big has blind-spot monitoring, but other niceties like adaptive cruise control are nowhere to be found.
All in, even at half-tilt, driving a Hellcat Redeye is like attaching a lit fuse to your shoe and trying to outrun it. You'll never, ever properly exploit all of the Redeye's power on public roads. And it's loud. Very loud. Very, very loud.
Roomy and techy
Inside, it's the same old Challenger. My tester has a few comfort features, but they come with a price. The nearly $1,700 Plus Package adds cooled front seats while an extra $1,800 wraps those seats in Laguna leather. Still, the Challenger is roomy and comfortable with not-as-bad-as-a-Camaro visibility and a trunk with 16.2 cubic feet of space, beating out the tiny 9.1 cubes in the Camaro and the 13.5 cubes of the Mustang.
An 8.4-inch touchscreen is standard, running Dodge's excellent Uconnect infotainment system. Laid out thoughtfully with an intuitiveness that is missing in many in-dash systems, Uconnect is one of my favorite systems. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are both standard, as is a Wi-Fi hotspot.
The onboard tech is geared for performance stats, with a whole slew of performance pages to track your lap times, temperatures and engine specs. I wish Dodge would take a hint from GM and install a performance data recorder, though. A forward-facing video recorder would be a stellar way to learn from previous lap lines.
Over the top
I love the Challenger Redeye. It's over-the-top and loud and brash, and I love how it makes me feel like a total badass. Even at my test car's price of $88,855, I'm getting 797 horsepower in a big, comfortable cruiser -- that's $90/horsepower, which is a pretty solid value.
Would I be just as happy with a 485-horsepower Challenger R/T Scat Pack Widebody with a six-speed manual transmission? Definitely. In fact, at under $50,000, the R/T Scat Pack is absolutely the V8-powered Challenger I'd want to take home.
The Challenger Redeye is nothing but overkill -- but in the best possible way.