Just over two years after debuting as a concept at the 2006 Detroit Auto Show, the Dodge Challenger is now ready to hit the streets for real. The Challenger is reviving a name last used in the late '70s and early '80s on a compact, four-cylinder Mitsubishi-built coupe. This time, though, Chrysler is going back to the roots of the brand with a big muscular rear-wheel-drive coupe, initially available exclusively with a 6.1L HEMI V8 that will power the new Challenger 60 mph in the low 5-second range, according to a very conservative Chrysler. It shares the automaker's LX platform with the Charger and Chrysler 300, and in final form, the car has changed remarkably little from the concept. The most noticeable differences are up front and include the loss of the cross-hair grille and a slim black air dam at the bottom of the bumper. Other changes are pretty subtle, such as some reshaping of the lower air intake.
Out back, the rear bumper is now more prominent and the detailing of the taillights has been revised. A flat black lip spoiler is now mounted on the trailing edge of the deck lid while the Challenger badges on the rear fenders have been dumped. The rear driver side fender now also features a prominent chrome fuel filler cap. The wheelbase of the LX platform has been shrunk from a gargantuan 120 inches for the sedans to a merely large 116 inches for the Challenger. That puts the span between the axles at 9 inches longer the Mustang, which aids interior volume. Read on after the jump for more.
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For the truncated 2008 model year run, Dodge will only be building 6,400 Challengers, all in SRT8 form. That means all examples will be powered by the the same 6.1L HEMI with 425 hp and 420 lb-ft of torque as other SRT8 variants. Although enthusiasts might be disappointed, the reality is that most American buyers probably won't care that 2008 Challengers will only come in two-pedal, self-shifting form. Starting in 2009, Chrysler is expected to add availability of the 5.7L HEMI, as well as a V6. Putting power and torque to the pavement is the responsibility of 245/45 front and 255/45 rear Goodyear F1 tires on 20-inch wheels.
The interior design picks up many components from its platform mates, such as the steering wheel, instrument cluster and switchgear, otherwise the rest of the dash is unique to this model. The cluster hood is shaped something like the version in the concept, but unfortunately the rest of the dash appears to be a cost-reduced setup compared to the original. Hopefully it looks better in person than it does in these photos. Fortunately, the seats appear to brought over from other SRT models with their enormous bolsters that will easily keep the driver positioned directly in front of the steering wheel.
Thanks to its proportions, the Challenger doesn't look as large as it is. But make no mistake, this is a big car. It's actually one inch longer than the Chrysler 300 and is rated for three passengers in the rear compartment. Pricing will start at $37,995 for the 2008 Dodge Challenger SRT8, and the limited production means that dealers will surely be charging a couple of bucks extra if they think they can get away with it. We'll be patiently waiting for our turn to get behind the wheel of Chrysler's new performance coupe at the earliest available opportunity. Hopefully a nasty rumor about Chrysler eliminating its press fleet as a cost cutting measure doesn't come to fruition.
The Ultimate Modern American Muscle Coupe
All-New 2008 Dodge Challenger SRT8®
- Iconic Dodge muscle car returns after a 35-year absence
- Design stays true to Challenger heritage while delivering a host of modern amenities and "race inspired, street legal" SRT DNA
- Powered by a 6.1-liter HEMI® V-8 engine that produces 425 horsepower and 420 lb.-ft. of torque
- Each 2008 Dodge Challenger SRT8 features limited-edition, numbered dash plaque
The return of the iconic Dodge Challenger brings what pony car fanatics crave: ground shaking performance, unmistakable design cues reminiscent of the original Challenger, world-class ride and handling characteristics and benchmark braking. On top of that it features a wide variety of modern amenities and technology designed to delight a new generation of driving enthusiasts.
"The all-new Dodge Challenger SRT8 is engineered to give customers everything they want in a modern muscle machine," said Mike Accavitti, Director – Dodge Brand and SRT Global Marketing, Chrysler LLC. "The new version of Dodge's American classic boasts tire-smoking performance and head-turning design while offering a wide array of state-of-the-art technology, such as GPS navigation, 'Keyless Go' entry, a MyGIG™ infotainment system and UConnect hands-free communication."
Developed by Chrysler's in-house performance engineering organization, the 2008 Dodge Challenger SRT8 was engineered with a focus on the five pillars of every SRT vehicle: bold exterior design that resonates with the brand image, a race-inspired interior, world-class ride and handling across a dynamic range, a standout powertrain and benchmark braking.
Dodge will offer the limited-edition 2008 Dodge Challenger SRT8 in three colors: HEMI® Orange, Bright Silver Metallic and Brilliant Black Crystal Pearl Coat. Each two-door, rear-wheel-drive coupe will be produced with a numbered dash plaque, carbon fiberlike hood stripes and will be powered by SRT's 6.1-liter HEMI V-8 engine that boasts 425 horsepower and 420 lb.-ft. of torque.
With a U.S. Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) of $37,995 (including $675 destination), the all-new 2008 Dodge Challenger SRT8 arrives in Dodge showrooms this spring.
The 2008 Dodge Challenger SRT8 vehicles will be manufactured at Chrysler's Brampton, Ontario, Canada assembly plant.
Performance targets for the all-new 2008 Dodge Challenger SRT8 include a 0–60 mph time in the low 5-second range, 0–100–0 mph in less than 17 seconds, a ¼-mile elapsed time of less than 14 seconds, 60–0 mph braking distance of approximately 100 feet, and a skid pad performance of 0.88 g.