When I first saw the Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat, the amount of horsepower packed inside it left me incredibly pleased, if not a bit perplexed. At no point was I struck by the thought, "Wow that's something," except wondering how it behaved both on and off the track.
I pondered whether they'll ever add more power.
Someone at Dodge, in fact, did just that. The Dodge Challenger Demon was then created, seemingly by the devil himself giving the engineers the concept. Running 400 metres in the Demon for 10 seconds feels like skydiving backwards.
With 626 kW and 1044Nm of torque promised, the Challenger Demon has been marketed as a vehicle designed to dominate the drag racing field.
We're skipping my opinions of the Challenger Hellcat and past incarnations of Dodge's muscle vehicle and getting right to the point: determining whether the Challenger Demon is the straight-line rocket it's promised to be.
The Devil’s plaything
First off, a 6,2-litre supercharged Hemi V8 produces 626kw and 1044 Nm of torque. Although the 2018 Demon's engine is based on the Hellcat's, it has undergone substantial improvement to meet the SRT team's objectives.
The motor receives a new 2,7-litre supercharger, among other improvements, increasing the boost output to 10kW. The Demon now features a chiller, which essentially reroutes the cabin's air conditioning refrigerant, and its maximum rpm limit has been raised to 6 500.
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In addition to keeping people cool, it also assists in cooling the air entering the supercharger.
This supports all the air passing through the numerous breathing holes, including the enormous hood scoop that resembles a whale shark. Even where the fog lamps would typically be, are inlets.
Additionally, the engine is prepared to run on fuel with a higher-octane rating than that found at your local fuel station that is highly blended with sugarcane-based alcohol.
To actually unleash the full 626kW, you'll need more.
The Demon produces only 808 horsepower and 1044 Nm of torque when using only ordinary super unleaded, but that is still a lot.
Through an improved driveline and the Hellcat's eight-speed automatic transmission with Transbrake, all of this power is sent to the rear wheels. The Demon uses this as a crucial aspect of his drag strip prank.
Bells and whistles of hell
The Demon can be made to fly off the line in one of three ways. The first is the braking torque method, which makes use of the brake pedal to quickly burn out automatic transmissions.
The Demon, if you attempt it, can actually overcome the brakes. The second option is launch control, where the driver can choose the revs while delegating the calculations to the on-board computer. You're not making the most of the hellbent Hemi, and it's not as much fun.
The Transbrake, which locks the gearbox output shaft prior to a standing launch, actually keeps the automobile in place.
Oh my God!
There's little doubt that the entire package has been designed for the drag strip, so letting the Dodge Demon loose isn't something that should be done on the street. And don't be fooled by the claim that the vehicle is "so quick it's forbidden from drag racing."
It's clever marketing that makes the vehicle seem sinister, much like the "unrated" DVD release of Eurotrip. In reality, it means that the NHRA has certified the car's ability to complete 400m in less than 10 seconds and to travel at a speed greater than 220 km/h, which means that it must comply with additional rules (such as a roll cage, master cutoff switch, competition licence, etc.) in order to compete.
In other words, Dodge built a drag strip powerhouse that is street legal and available off the shelf, but some of the gaps must be filled by owners to maintain its usability.
Be prepared to make the most of the Demon's in-car features to hide your little knowledge of drag strips. For instance, line lock was easily accessible via the infotainment screen, which made warming the tyres in the burnout box simple. Drag mode is The Demon's main stage trick, though. In addition to disabling traction control and activating Transbrake, this also primes the front and rear shocks to balance the abrupt shift in load.
Without a doubt, the entire package has been customised for the drag strip.
The driver must draw back on the gearbox paddles and press the brakes hard to begin the difficult sequence. You are in charge of controlling the revs to maintain them between 1 500 and 2 350 rpms. The brake is then applied after releasing one paddle. With one finger, you can control the 626kW Demon.
The Demon takes off at an amazing, unnatural rate, almost by accident. Each launch brought on a flood of feelings for someone whose drag racing experience is best characterised as "unofficial," including mounting anticipation, astonishment, terror, and ecstasy. I was a novice drag racer, so my 10-second 400m run in the Demon seemed like a sideways skydive.
While drag mode stacks the deck in your favour for launching, there are several factors at work to keep you figuratively on the straight and narrow.
Although traction control is disabled, electronic stability control is still present to prevent you from swerving.
When launched, the Demon possessed would-be buyers and flew off showrooms just like that. Keen speedsters sought to capture the Challenger Demon (or be possessed by it).
Prices in the US start at $80 000, but they can increase with additions like a passenger seat, which costs an additional $1. People looking for thrills who have money to squander and are content with their short time on earth need look no farther, this is your car.
Dodge Demon Specs:
Horsepower: 626 kw
0-100: 2.1 Seconds
Top Speed: 327km/h