When the Dodge Demon came out, we thought to hell with the Hellcat, but that wasn’t necessarily fair. The Hellcat is still an amazing car. Dodge understands this better than anyone and decided to remind people just how kickass the Hellcat really is by creating an upgraded model called the Hellcat Widebody. Recently, we had the chance to visit a Dodge event in Indianapolis, IN, to sample this awesome new muscle car.
What Is It?
The Hellcat Widebody came to be because the Demon climbed from the depths of the hellacious minds of the folks who work at SRT. The Widebody sports fender flares from the Demon, the 20-inch by 11-inch “Devil’s Rim” wheels, and the same front splitter as the Demon. The rest of the styling for the Widebody is commensurate with the regular Hellcat. Most of the mechanicals are all Hellcat, save for the new electronic power steering system with selectable drive modes. That new fancy steering system will not be available on the standard Hellcat, so if you want it, you have to go Widebody.
How Does It Look and Feel?
The car looks utterly handsome in the most masculine sense of the word. It’s wide, low, and muscular. The fender flares and wider wheels look like they always belonged there, and the retro styling of the Challenger isn’t ruined by the additions. The car appears meaner and more eager for speed than the regular Hellcat, but not quite as over the top as the Demon. In short, it’s the perfect middle child, and one that we hope gets plenty of attention from buyers.
The interior is typical Hellcat. The seats are comfortable, the dash is well-laid out and the Uconnect system works smoothly. We’ve never been big fans of Dodge’s chunky steering wheels, but for some reason, it doesn’t bother us so much in this car. This is likely because the rest of the car is so thick and burly.
Visibility isn’t any worse than the regular Challenger, and the sound of the big 707 hp supercharged 6.2-liter V8 engine under the hood makes you feel like you were transported into Vin Diesel’s body and planted into a Fast and the Furious movie. “Ask any racer. Any real racer …” you start to say in your best impression of the bald street racer.
How Does It Drive?
As you might expect, the Hellcat Widebody drives a lot like the regular Hellcat, just a little better. It was a rainy day and too wet for us to drive on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway’s infield road course or the Lucas Oil Raceway, so we took the car out on some public roadways around Indianapolis. Despite the fact that we were forced to drive on public roads, we felt like we got a good sense for the car.
Getting on the throttle produced the expected result of pushing you back in your seat, and despite the added grip from the wider tires, it wasn’t hard to break the rear wheels loose when taking off from a stop. However, in the turns, the Widebody felt planted to the road, even on wet pavement. Dodge claims an improved lateral grip of 0.04 G on the skidpad.
We’re not huge fans of electronic power steering systems but the system in the Widebody is pretty good. It provided a pretty natural feel and a decent amount of weight without getting too heavy. The different drive modes adjust this. Judging solely on our short time in the car, it is a good setup and makes maneuvering around a parking lot easier than in the standard Hellcat without diminishing on road performance.
The car is said to be faster in a straight line, too. Dodge’s wonderful PR folks told us the Widebody does the quarter mile 0.3 seconds faster than the regular Hellcat and jumps from a standstill to 60 mph 0.1 seconds faster. We didn’t have much of a chance to put this to the test, but the car did feel exceptionally fast, and slowing down was not an issue thanks to standard six-piston Brembo brakes and two-piece 15.4-inch rotors.
Our tester had the Tremec six-speed manual transmission (Dodge also offers an 8-speed TorqueFlite automatic transmission with paddle shifters). The clutch on our car was hefty but easy to use and the gear selector was notchy and relatively heavy as well. Everything about the car feels substantial and purpose built for performance, which is exactly what we want from muscle car of this magnitude.
Should You Buy It?
The Hellcat Widebody makes perfect sense if you want to buy a Dodge Demon but realize the limited supply of that car means there’s practically no chance of you getting your hands on one. That’s one of the reasons Dodge built this car. The Demon simply won’t be available to most people and the Widebody is a way for those folks to get their hands on a Challenger variant that’s a little faster and better to drive than the standard Hellcat.
With production beginning in late summer of 2017, you’d better start reaching out to dealerships near you if you want one of these Widebody beasts. The car starts out at $72,590 including the $1,700 gas-guzzler tax and the $1,095 destination fee. That’s a lot of money, but when you look at what you’re actually getting in terms of performance, it’s justified.