Driving The New Dodge Challenger Hellcat Is Even More Fun Than You Would Expect

Unleashing this 707-horsepower kitty is an absolute pleasure for muscle car fans.
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Photo: Fiat Chrysler Automobiles

Photo: Fiat Chrysler Automobiles

The 2016 Dodge Challenger Hellcat is the absolute apogee of adolescently boss cars in the history of insane hot rods. That's from when "boss" was a positive adverb. Before I ever laid eyes on my first Lamborghini, this was the car I was sketching in study hall, only with the jacked-up, forward-leaning stance of the era’s drag race-influenced designs.

Photo: Fiat Chrysler Automobiles

Photo: Fiat Chrysler Automobiles

The glittering metallic Redline red 2016 Challenger borrows from the styling of maybe the hottest-looking muscle car there ever was -- the 1971 Challenger. But now it is fitted with ginormous 20-inch wheels, just like the cartoonishly exaggerated wheels sketched back in the day. They are even painted in a matte carbon black that is a perfect match for the old #2 pencil.

Photo: Fiat Chrysler Automobiles

Photo: Fiat Chrysler Automobiles

The style of the day back then would have ensured that like the 707-horsepower Challenger Hellcat, the dream car would have been supercharged, but with a gaudy unit protruding through the car's hood, like the one on Mad Max's Ford Falcon XB. The Hellcat's blower is tucked discretely under the hood, but its whine under acceleration is unmistakable. Consider that sound the Hellcat's warning growl. 

Photo: Fiat Chrysler Automobiles

Photo: Fiat Chrysler Automobiles

Well, that's if you can hear the supercharger's whine over the considerable rumble of the Hellcat's dual exhaust pipes. This Challenger's exhaust note possesses none of the snap, crackle and pop of cars like the Chevrolet Camaro SS or Ford Mustang Shelby GT350 but a lot more sheer "I'm here!" volume. Surely, the car's nearly unmuffled pipes are a contributor to its astounding horsepower rating.

Photo: Fiat Chrysler Automobiles

Photo: Fiat Chrysler Automobiles

Of course, schoolboy muscle car sketches squash the cabin for a low-slung look at the expense of windows for practical things like seeing out of the car, and the Challenger adheres rigorously to those old notebook doodles. Which means the car retains that bad-ass stance you wanted, at the expense of a dark cabin with little visibility out. 

Going with a traditional solid black interior makes the problem worse, but choosing the optional tan leather seats and door panels brightens up the Challenger's interior. As for seeing out, well, think of like looking out from within a racing helmet: you can see the road ahead and that's what matters.

As if the original Challenger wasn't awesome enough by itself, the car cemented it place in popular culture by serving as the focus of the 1971 police chase flick, Vanishing Point.

Today's car is much faster than that one and is more lavishly equipped too, producing a price as tested of $69,280. That's double the average price of a new car, but in addition to the supercharged 707-horsepower Hemi V8, you get other tremendous hardware, like the Brembo brakes to help corral all those wild horses.

Photo: Fiat Chrysler Automobiles

Photo: Fiat Chrysler Automobiles

If the car also came with some kind of automatic police protection, then drivers could be confident of avoiding any messy Vanishing Point-like finale. (Spoiler: The driver rams a police road block of two bulldozers at top speed.) 

But one thing's for sure, driving this glorious Hellcat always ensures a happy ending.