Back in 2015, Dodge stunned the world when it introduced the Challenger SRT Hellcat with a 707hp 6.2-liter supercharged V8. It was the most powerful American production car ever built and, naturally, sales were robust.
Then in 2018, the barely street-legal Challenger SRT Demon arrived sporting an 808 hp version of the Hellcat engine that could be boosted to 840 hp with the addition of a special control module. The Demon was limited to just 3,300 examples, and 300 of those were destined for Canada. Suffice it to say, they were all spoken for before you could say “Denon” in English or French.
Today, the 2019 Challenger SRT Hellcat Redeye has toned down the HP specs a little with a slighly more refined 797 hp engine. The Redeye’s engine gets beefed-up pistons, a larger 2.7-liter supercharger and twin fuel-pumps from the Demon’s, along with an air intake system that’s fed in part by a retro twin-snorkel hood. The 797 ponies are channeled through an 8-speed automatic transmission and a drivetrain that’s been enhanced with new prop and half shafts. If you want a Hellcat with a stick, you’ll have to downgrade to the standard version, which is now rated at 717 hp.
What our local Dodge dealer, Easterns Automotive Group, told us is that the Redeye doesn’t get is the Demon’s racing-style transmission brake, or its vaunted Drag mode, which uses the computer-controlled dampers to manage weight transfer under hard acceleration from a standstill. It does have launch control, however, and a launch assist system that does its best to reduce wheel hop once you’re on the move.
The Redeye is also equipped with a line-lock feature that holds just the front brakes as you do a burnout to warm up the rear tires. On standard cars, the tires are 275 mm wide and 305 mm on the vehicles with the optional $6,000 widebody package.
Racecar drivers say the Redeye’s traction management systems are impressive. And, with the exhaust thundering and the supercharger screaming, it’s a pulse-quickening experience in a world increasingly full of supercars powered by muffled turbocharged engines and tinny electric motors.
You wouldn’t expect much in the way of gas mileage form a vehicle that offers nearly 800 hp but the Redeye surprises. It delivers an angelic 22 mpg on the highway, where the far lighter 789 hp Ferrari 812 only manages 16 mpg. It’s a different story around town, where it gets 13 mpg, or on an unrestricted Autobahn in Germany, where the Redeye could empty its 18.6-gallon fuel tank in less than 11 minutes at full-throttle.
Four years ago it was hard to believe that there’d ever be another car like the Hellcat. But now the only reason I’d tell you not to buy a Redeye, if you’re into this sort of thing, is that even in the face of so much change in the car industry, this engine is clearly immortal and there’s little doubt that Dodge will conjure up something even wilder with it soon.