With the addition of the Challenger SRT Hellcat Widebody to Dodge’s new age muscle car lineup, the roster is now complete. Yes, there is a Hellcat Widebody, in case the run of the mill Hellcat, a car that looks like it will literally eat children for lunch, is just too subtle for your tastes.
Dodge states this right up front: “U.S. Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price of $71,495 (including gas guzzler tax).” And I just love how they have the need to say the price includes the gas guzzler fee. What, you thought you were buying a Prius?
The Challenger SRT Hellcat Widebody is an SRT Hellcat with the same flared body treatment found on the “straitjacket included at no extra charge” SRT Demon. The wider fender flares add 3.5 inches to the SRT Hellcat’s overall width. And yes, they are there for a very sound engineering reason. Said flares are there to cover the new 20 x 11-inch “Devil’s Rim” split-five spoke aluminum wheels carrying new, wider 305/35ZR20 Pirelli P-Zero tires. These are, to use the parlance of the muscle car set: Boss Meats.
And you might be tempted to say putting tires with a contact patch the size of a fat guy’s thighs is excessive, but you would be wrong, oh so wrong. This new Challenger SRT Hellcat Widebody brings better lap times, better lateral grip, better acceleration, and better braking versus the “normal” Hellcat. The road course lap time dropped by 2 seconds per lap on a 1.7-mile track. The ET in the quarter dropped by .3 seconds, giving the widebody a 10.9 ET vs. 11.2 ET when compared to the standard Hellcat. Lateral G’s? Up by .04 g for .97 g versus .93 g in standard Hellcat. Even the 0 to 60 time dropped .1 seconds – you now hit freeway speed in 3.4 seconds. Top speed? 195 big ones, kiddo.
Aerodynamics & Braking
On top of the ginormous flares, the 2018 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat Widebody carries a batch of exterior styling cues you’d expect to see. There’s a power-bulge aluminum hood with center intake and dual heat extractors that bear more than a passing resemblance to Dan Gurney’s AAR Cuda’s. There are exclusive illuminated “Air-Catcher” headlamps that stuff air directly into the intake and engine bay through the center of the parking lamps.
Speaking of the headlights, the quad projector headlamps have aggressive brow “chops” to “exude a sinister look,” as Dodge puts it.
The front splitter, which is shared with the Demon, and rear spoiler, taken from the “normal” Hellcat, work in aerodynamic sync. There’s also the Hellcat-exclusive grille and fender badges with a raised SRT Hellcat badge on the rear spoiler. Wanna stop? You can, thanks to a standard Brembo braking system with two-piece 15.4-inch rotors and six-piston front calipers. And take it from one who knows, this is a huge improvement versus how Mopars used to stop back in the day.
Power & Performance
The 6.2-liter supercharged HEMI V8 in the 2018 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat Widebody cranks out 707 horsepower and 650 lb-ft. of stump-pulling torque, same as the other Hellcats. Said mill can be paired to either the Tremec six-speed manual transmission or the TorqueFlite eight-speed automatic. It should also be noted the plant features all the additional cooling measures from the non-wide Hellcat, including a low-temperature circuit with two air/coolant heat exchangers unified with the supercharger housing. Air temperatures are miraculously kept below 140 degrees Fahrenheit, all while the blower is pushing a stunning 30,000 liters of air per minute.
“Our brand, engineering, and design teams poured a ton of effort into making the new SRT Demon the world’s fastest quarter-mile production car, so now we’re leveraging that know-how, and some of those vital elements and transferring them to the new Challenger SRT Hellcat Widebody for improved performance on the street and a bolder, more aggressive new look,” said Tim Kuniskis, Head of Passenger Cars – Dodge, SRT, Chrysler and FIAT – FCA North America.
What’s In A Name
And, honestly, ignore what he said and focus only on the fact that those words were uttered by a guy named Tim Kuniskis. Kuniskis. Now there is the name I want attached to my American factory hot rods. Tell me Tim Kuniskis isn’t from Ypsilanti or Hamtramck or some such environ. Tell me young Tim Kuniskis didn’t get yelled at by two or three huge aunts, in Polish, for that time he chucked a kielbasa at Uncle Stanislaus during Whit Sunday dinner when he was five. Tim Kuniskis is the kind of guy that should be working on cars like the Challenger SRT Hellcat Widebody, not somebody with five Ph.Ds. from Vienna Polytechnic.
Tim Kuniskis is a guy that understands, most likely intuitively, that American performance cars are about engines, tires, and traction: in that order. Guys like Tim Kuniskis is why the Challenger SRT Hellcat Widebody is amazing.
If you want and can afford one, the 2018 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat Widebody is open for dealer orders now. It will start showing up this fall.
Tony Borroz has spent his entire life racing antique and sports cars. He means well, even if he has a bias towards lighter, agile cars rather than big engine muscle cars or family sedans.