2018 Dodge Challenger SRT Demon Preview
Competes with: Tesla Model S P100D, Koenigsegg Regera, General Dynamics F-16 Falcon fighter jet, being shot out of a cannon
Looks like: Someone turned the Hellcat up to 11 … thousand
Drivetrain: 840-horsepower, supercharged 6.2-liter V-8; eight-speed automatic transmission; rear-wheel drive
Hits dealerships: Late 2017
After months of teasers, vague video clips, obscure encoded license plates and general frustration among performance-car enthusiasts, the 2018 Dodge Challenger SRT Demon is here. Just when you thought that the Challenger SRT Hellcat was the nuttiest thing that an automaker could possibly produce for public consumption (who could possibly need more than 707 horsepower?), Dodge ups the ante one more time and creates what is, simply put, a factory-built drag-racing car.
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First up: the numbers. You're going to be hearing the words "world's best" and "world's most" a lot in this article, as the new Demon obliterates all kinds of records. The horsepower: 840 (most powerful production V-8 in the world). The torque: 770 pounds-feet. It goes from zero-to-60 mph in 2.3 seconds (fastest zero-to-60 time of any production car in the world). G-forces on full acceleration: 1.8 (highest of any production car in the world). It can lift the front wheels off the ground by nearly 3 feet on full acceleration. Let's see your Mustang GT350 do that. The Dodge Viper can't do that. Not even the Bugatti Chiron can do that.
If the ungodly roar from its exhaust doesn't alert you to what this is before you actually see it, then here's how to spot a Demon in the wild. Exterior changes are extensive, starting with the world's largest functional hood scoop on a passenger car. The Air-Grabber hood seals to the air box (no fake cosmetic scoop crap here, folks) and combines with additional air from the Air-Catcher headlamp inlet and a third air inlet by the wheel liner to allow the Demon V-8 to suck down 1,150 cubic feet of air per minute. That's the largest air induction of any engine in the world, and 18 percent higher than the Hellcat engine.
If the hood isn't warning enough, there are fender flares bolted to the body to try and effectively cover the Nitto NT05R 315/40-R18 street-legal drag radial tires at all four corners. They're mounted on positively massive 11-by-18-inch wheels, but here's the kicker — you can specify an optional pair of skinny front drag racing tires that fit in the trunk. So, when you get to the track, swap out the fronts for the skinnies, and now you have an extra pair of back tires for when you completely toast the first pair. How you get home afterward, when they're all shredded, is up to you.
Weight reduction is the name of the game inside, with the Demon's mission to be the world's fastest production-car quarter-mile dragster in history. So, you might find a few things missing … like the audio system.
And the passenger seats.
All of them.
There's no backseat, and no right-side passenger seat, but they can be added back for $1 each if you feel the need to bring friends down the dragstrip. The audio system's 16 speakers, amplifier and wiring are all gone, too, as is the trunk lid trim and carpeting, the spare tire cover and a lot of insulator material, foam and sound deadeners. It's going to be LOUD in the Demon.
You can add a lot of this back in, if you want. As stated, both seats can be returned, heated, ventilated and covered in Nappa leather. You can also add back a 19-speaker, 900-watt audio system and a power moonroof. But then maybe you don't have the world's quickest production car anymore.
Under the Hood
Here's where the magic happens. Dodge took the Hellcat engine and turned the dial up to 11, replacing more than half the Hellcat's components with new parts to free the Demon.
It starts with the 6.2-liter V-8 architecture, but increases the supercharger size to 2.7-liters compared to the Hellcat's 2.4-liter module. Boost is up too, now at 14.5 psi instead of 11.6 psi, with a higher rpm limit of 6,500 versus 6,200 for the Hellcat. There are two dual-stage fuel pumps instead of just one, and the aforementioned larger air box allows for more air flow. There's also a more robust high-speed valvetrain, improved lubrication system and stronger pistons and connecting rods.
The result is a motor making a top output of 840 hp and 770 pounds-feet of torque. But there are some tricks to consistently getting those numbers, and Dodge has come up with some innovative ways to do this. First is the SRT Power Chiller, which diverts the air-conditioning refrigerant to a special low-temperature radiator mounted at the front of the car, then to the chiller unit, and then to the heat exchangers in the supercharger to keep it cooled down.
After you've made your drag-strip run, the After-Run Chiller function keeps fans and chiller coolant circulating to chill down the supercharger and charge the air cooler, getting the car ready for its next run and avoiding heat soak issues. You can track the temperature on the multimedia screen's Performance Pages app, so you'll know exactly when the temperature has dropped enough for another optimal run down the track.
The Demon motor also features another first — the ability to run on 100+ octane race fuel. While it's designed to run primarily on 91-octane fuel, fill the tank with race gas and push a button on the center console, and the Demon will reconfigure spark timing and fuel pressure for the more potent gasoline. Knock sensors detect whether the fuel is suitable for the more aggressive formula (in case you filled your tank with half 100+ and half 91) and will revert to the 91-octane program if it needs to.
To help launch your factory race car, the Demon features a TransBrake as part of its launch control function. The eight-speed automatic transmission is from the Hellcat, having already been proven to be robust enough to handle a lot of power, but now it comes with a feature that locks the transmission output shaft at engine rpm up to 2,350, and combined with a new feature Dodge calls Torque Reserve, enables improved reaction times on launch without overpowering the brakes. Powertrain upgrades over Hellcat include a 20 percent thicker prop shaft tube, new material for the differential gears and more. Drag mode Launch Assist helps prevent wheel hop on aggressive launches by monitoring the wheel speed sensors and adjusting torque output to compensate.
The suspension is modified for optimization at the drag strip as well, with softer springs but a special tune for the adaptive Bilstein shock absorbers.
The list of additional equipment goes on and on. A new Performance Pages app allows you to switch between Auto (Street) mode, Drag mode and Custom mode, adjusting everything from suspension to steering to output. There's a line lock feature that locks the front brakes to allow you to do a burnout for 400 rear-wheel revolutions. It has an onboard data recorder to let you know how your performance skills are progressing. There's a Valet mode and inexplicably, an Eco mode, for … well, I have no idea why this thing would have an Eco mode. Seriously?
And just like a Bugatti can be had with custom-fitted luggage, the Demon can be had with the Demon Crate — although it carries some more specialized stuff to make your Demon go even faster. Inside a customized, personalized box that features the car's vehicle identification number and serial number, you'll find a performance powertrain control module with the high-octane calibration, a replacement switch module to activate it, a conical air filter, passenger mirror block-off plate, narrow front drag wheels and tires, a hydraulic Demon-branded floor jack with a bag, a torque wrench and socket, a cordless impact wrench and charger, tire pressure gauge, fender cover, tool bag and a foam case that lets you transport the front wheels and tools in the trunk.
The Demon goes on sale later this year, and will likely be hitting social media sites nonstop long before it ever hits a drag strip near you.