Track ready and street legal! That is what the 2018 Dodge Challenger SRT Demon is all about
A lot of stock muscle cars in the US get the full-on treatment from independent tuners and modifiers. But very rarely has a manufacturer involved itself in offering factory designed hooliganism. Dodge, as well all know has been building muscle cars with some factory performance options from its SRT sub brand but till now have never considered building a car so powerful that without any extra modifications it can do burnouts, wheelies, quarter mile drag visits and yet be so cool that it could be driven straight home from track without blinking.
So in a nutshell, what is Dodge trying to tell us? Dodge says the Hellcat-based Demon punches out 840hp and does the 0-96km/h sprint in just 2.3secs and pulls 1.8 times the force of gravity at launch. And if you keep pushing the throttle the Demon will cross the quarter-mile in 9.65secs at 225km/h flat!
Well, those are really impressive figures for a road-cum-muscle-cum-performance car – all rolled in one. So how has all this been made possible considering the Hellcat on which this package is based itself is a potent package?
The Demon tweaks begin with 105kg of mass reduction compared to the Hellcat. Much of the weight savings come from removal of the rear seat and passenger seat. The Demon’s brakes are also smaller, saving 16 pounds (four-piston front calipers on 14.2in discs instead of six-piston calipers and 15.4in discs in the Hellcat); smaller, hollow anti-roll bars cut 8.6kg, new wheels with open lug nuts drop 7.2kg; and removing various pieces of interior trim, sound deadening except the two 600watt speakers.
Compared to the Hellcat, the Demon has benefited from new air-management strategy. The 6.2-litre V8 engine in the Demon gets dual fuel pumps which help the supercharger displace 2.7-litre instead of 2.4-litre fuel which bumps up boost from 11.6psi to 14.5 psi which in turn raises the redline from 6,200 to 6,500 rpm. The second important factor is the air-charge cooler system which when activated, uses the car’s air-conditioning system to chill the supercharger’s intercooler. That can reduce inlet charges by 45° F. As every racer knows, cooler air means more fuel and more power. During intensive performance runs on say a drag strip, the Demon has a special foam-lined belly pan to catch and absorb condensation drips when the cooler function is in use. After each run, there’s provision to bring the supercharged V8’s temperature back down to normal.
The car is shod with 315/40R18 Nitto NTO5R drag radials, which is the first time a production car has been sold with drag radials from the factory and are mounted with 0.5 degrees less negative camber than on a Hellcat, thanks to new rear knuckles, to improve straight-line traction. During drag performances the manufacturer has let the car’s owners decide what skinny tyres they would like to use.
Besides solid grip, facilitating super-fast drag launches, the Demon is offers 35per cent more “launch force” than the Hellcat. This is possible, thanks in part to the shorter final-drive ratio of 3.09:1 instead of 2.62:1. The torque converter for the eight-speed automatic has an 11per cent higher stall speed and provides 18per cent more torque off the line.
The car’s suspension can be also be tuned. For example in Drag Mode, it configures every component for optimum performance by adjusting the adaptive suspension. The rear suspension becomes fully stiff, while the front has lots of compression damping but little rebound damping, allowing the car’s nose to lift easily during a hard launch. As standard the Demon’s spring rates and anti-roll bars are much softer than in a regular Hellcat. This specially optimized suspension setup is designed to perform without any of the downsides of old-school methods of bolt-on kits.
As a dual purpose car, in Drag Mode the car’s power character is changed in what is essentially a two-step launch control. The system when activated uses the cylinder deactivation system to fire just four cylinders, while opening a bypass valve in the supercharger helping the Demon’s engine build up supercharger boost pressure as revs build up. Meanwhile, the Demon’s TransBrake system locks the transmission output shaft in order to hold the car at a standing start.
In terms of creature comforts, as expected don’t expect many. There are just two speakers for the sound system, and only federally required safety systems – a backup camera, stability control, and tyre-pressure monitoring – are included. There is also a Valet mode, which limits engine speed to 4,000 rpm and disables launch control, plus an Eco Mode that we doubt anyone will ever use.
Last but not the least, the visual changes to the Demon vis-a-vis Hellcat are few. The huge air grabber bonnet scoop, the halo headlamps with two air intakes instead of one, large wheel arches and Demon badges are among the key indicators. The Demon will be sold for just one model year in extremely limited quantities.