Dodge CEO Tim Kuniskis had reason to be confident, perhaps even a bit cocky at the reveal of his brand's newest halo car, the 2015 Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat. As he said simply, it's the "quickest, fastest and most powerful sedan in the world."
"This is a car that most brands would never bring to market." – Tim Kuniskis
It's a bold statement, and the numbers back him up. By now they're familiar: the Charger Hellcat packs a supercharged 6.2-liter V8 with 707 horsepower. It has a top speed of 204 miles per hour and run the quarter mile on radial tires in just 10.8 seconds.
That's serious performance, and as the covers were about to come off the Charger Hellcat, Kuniskis rubbed it in a little bit. "This is a car that most brands would never bring to market," he said.
Ouch. But for now, he's right, and Dodge's natural rivals from Detroit, Ford and Chevy, have little to compare with the Charger Hellcat.
To find any real competition, you have to look at some of the world's most expensive luxury automakers. Even in that context the Charger Hellcat is by far the most powerful sedan in the world, eclipsing the Mercedes-Benz S65 AMG, which punches out 621 horsepower from a V12. Though, If you want to be technical, the über S-Class, with 738 pound-feet of torque, does easily eclipse the Hellcat's more 'modest' 650 lb-ft.
Then again, the Benz starts at $222,925. That's more than three times as much as the Charger will likely cost. Kuniskis wouldn't announce pricing for the Dodge, which goes on sale early next year, but for a reference point, the Challenger Hellcat starts at $60,990, including destination fees.
The Bentley Flying Spur has 616 hp from a W12 engine, and it makes customers "apply" to see the price, which is around $200,000.
It's not just Benz, the Charger puts other Germans to shame, power-wise. The Porsche Panamera Turbo S generates 570 hp, and the BMW M5/M6 Gran Coupe and Audi RS7 all push out 560 hp from V8 mills. The British fare no better. The Aston Martin Rapide S is rated at 550 hp from a V12, and the Jaguar XFR-S and XJR models have 550 hp from their V8s.
The Charger Hellcat outclasses some of the most exotic cars in the world based on output.
The Cadillac CTS-V is likely the most credible American competitor to the Hellcat, and it makes 556 hp with its V8. Pricing starts at $65,825, roughly inline with the Hellcat's likely sticker.
The Charger Hellcat, and its two-door Challenger sibling, also outclasses some of the most exotic coupes in the world based on output. The Hellcats have more power than three of the five main cars in Ferrari's lineup. They also have power roughly equal to the 'base' Lamborghini Aventador, and around 100 hp more than the Huracán, when conversions are figured.
Now, for a bit of perspective. The Hellcats are spectacular vehicles, which we noted in our first drive of the Challenger. But no one really is going to cross-shop a Charger with an S-Class. While these cars have impressive straight-line capability thanks to their prodigious outputs, their size, weight and handling make them less-than-ideal for the track.
Dodge also didn't electronically limit the top speed of the Charger Hellcat, and it compares favorably with several other exotics. The 204-mph limit is as fast as the car can go based on power and aerodynamics, the company said. The M5's top speed is 155 mph, the S65's top speed is 186 mph and the Flying Spur's is 200 mph.
So why do this? Why put so much power under the hood of Dodges? Quite simply: it's all about attention. Kuniskis noted that Dodge was the top-searched car brand on Google in July. Think the Challenger Hellcat has something to do with it? Wanna bet the Charger Hellcat is going to keep that going?
That's what Kuniskis is betting on, anyway. At the reveal event, he pointed to the super Charger and summed it all up: "The conversation is changing about the brand because of things like this."