Freshly fed and caffeinated, I settled in to the driver’s seat of the Octane Red Dodge Challenger and took stock of my surroundings. “It’s just a Challenger,” I thought. I put my foot on the brake and pressed the Start button. The supercharged, 6.2 liter Hemi V8 came to life and made it clear that this was not just a Challenger. No, this was the Dodge Challenger Hellcat Redeye Widebody (yes, it’s a mouthful) and it had what most Challengers don’t – seven hundred and ninety seven horsepower. And a factory warranty.
Dodge wanted me to drive their Challenger Hellcat Redeye Widebody so badly that they brought one to our annual Washington Automotive Press Association rally. I was one of a handful of journalists invited to come along for a day of hot takes.
Though the entry-level Challenger SXT is priced around $28,000, the hottest variant in Widebody form is priced from $76,245. That’s quite a jump in price, and though there are V8-equipped Challengers available for less, the Challenger Hellcat Redeye Widebody does what the SRT folks have always done best – absurd amounts of power shoved into whatever engine bay will accept it. But is 797 horsepower… too much?
My drive took me along back roads and a divided highway. Though the Challenger Hellcat Redeye Widebody allows the driver to soften the steering, suspension, and transmission response for street driving, it has only a minor effect on the car’s behavior. It just wants to go.
And truthfully, it wants to go mostly in a straight line. The Challenger is a big car, especially with the wider 305-section tires and fender flares, and it is not the most nimble thing in the world.
The most fun is had when the front wheels are pointed straight and the supercharged Hemi has room to run. Dodge claims a top speed of 203 mph and 0-60 in just 3.5 seconds. Frankly, I managed one full-throttle “pull,” from a roll, and stopped when I got to highway speeds. The car may have shifted to second gear by then. It’s got a lot in reserve.
The Challenger Hellcat Redeye Widebody is a car that would feel right at home on a drag strip, a less-technical road course, or in a parking lot behind Safeway doing lots of donuts. It was a bit much for back roads.
Ultimately, this car is all about context. The fact that it exists, with a factory warranty and premium audio and nicely-bolstered heated seats and all sorts of technology is pretty wild. Until recently, going this absurdly fast required a lot of help from the aftermarket and a quality engine builder.