Inside The Big Cat Family: Examining Dodge’s Hellcat DNA

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Inside The Big Cat Family: Examining Dodge's Hellcat DNA


Listen up, all you big cat enthusiasts. If you’ve been pondering the similarities and differences between some of Dodge’s most beastly offerings, this read is for you. We know, it’s a long list to choose from, but each of them share similar DNA. We wanted some clarity ourselves, so we reached out to folks at FCA and did a little digging.

Our first thought was – let’s clear up some common questions and misconceptions. When we spoke with the folks at Dodge, we shotgunned a series of questions at them about the similarities and differences between Dodge’s Challenger R/T Scat Pack 1320 Edition, Hellcat Redeye, and Demon. Being the Mopar aficionados they are, they fielded them with ease. So, for your reading and viewing pleasure, we present the interview and Dodge Brand’s answers below:

SM: First, can you start by telling us what technical features all of the cars share?

DB (Dodge Brand): Well, from a mechanical standpoint they are all very similar. It’s in the up-hancing that you see them begin to diverge. For the layman, the Redeye is a Demon that can go left and right. It has much wider wheels and tires, for example. Although, they do share three-mode suspension – including a drag suspension mode, line lock, trans brake, and launch control.

Essentially, all four cars (R/T Scat Pack 1320, SRT Hellcat, Hellcat Redeye, and SRT Demon) will do what you want at the track. Obviously, each has different capabilities. The Redeye motor is basically the Demon motor but it makes slightly less power at 797hp, compared to the Demon’s 840hp. The reason for that is because it takes in less air than the Demon. Although, the twin-snorkel hood on the Redeye is much more aero friendly. These cars aren’t very aerodynamic to begin with because of the retro design, so to help mitigate that, Dodge designers went with a snorkel hood.

2019 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat Redeye Widebody sporting the iconic snorkel hood.

SM: So then, who would you consider the target audience for each one of these cars to be? 

DB: Well, as you know, the Demon is no longer available. [Dodge only made 3,300 units for the 2018 model year.] Really, it’s just the pinnacle of Dodge performance. You’re talking about a vehicle that overshadows Vipers and original Super Stock Darts and Cudas. It’s really incredible to think they created a brand new 9-second car with a warranty while simultaneously meeting the 2018 emissions standards.

If Goldberg is a fan of the Demon, you know it’s gotta be good!

[Redeye:] The Redeye serves the need for people who missed out on the demon. There was serious price gouging at the dealer lots and at the person to person level as well.

2019 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat Redeye Widebody putting its tires to good use.

In its standard and wide body form, the Redeye gives people the opportunity to enjoy the excitement and almost the same power levels of the Demon.

So, let’s say you order yourself a Redeye with the backseat delete which subtracts 40-pounds – throw on a set of skinny front wheels and the optional 3.09 axle ratio – you’re running low 10’s high 9’s and still get to drive it home.

It really becomes the ultimate package because it’s lighter and more aero friendly than the Demon. So, yeah, the Redeye is for those that missed out on the Demon and don’t wanna pay the insane secondhand prices, but they still get the engine and transmission.

The suspension settings are not the same, though. In stock form, the Redeye is more of a daily driver, user-friendly kind of car.

[1320:] I think the 1320 Edition is for the person that lives within their means but wants to go fast. We’ve seen people go 11.60’s and we like it when people go faster than what we claim, which is 11.77. Oh, and that’s on the Nexen drag radials it comes with stock. If you bump up to a drag wheel package, you can go much faster because of the weight implication.

The 1320 is for someone that’s just looking for a fast affordable car. It really reminds me of some of the cars from back in the day – they offered a ton of performance for the money. I mean, the Six-Pack Roadrunner had a fiberglass lift-off hood – so the 1320 is kind of like a modern A12 package.

Don’t let its comparatively unassuming looks fool you. The Challenger R/T Scat Pack 1320 shares similar genetic makeup with the fabled Dodge Demon!

With a price tag in the neighborhood of 46-47-thousand, it’s a great value. Although, the car comes stock with only one seat! But, it’s a dollar option for the front and another dollar for the rear. [laughs]

How cool is that? This is like the second coming of the rear-wheel-drive Mopar muscle car. Dodge even offers memberships to NMCA and NHRA with the purchase of a 1320 Edition. So, you can basically race for free? How many other automakers do that?

SM: With so much performance in a production car, what should people know about each of these cars before they drive them on the road or on the track? 

DB: It’s a lot of power, know what you got! You’ve got people whose last fast car might’ve been a 5.0 mustang. [They’re likely older if they’re in the tax bracket to afford a Demon.] Now they’re stuffed in a new dimension with a low 10- or 9-second car on public roads.

Imagine going wheels up like that on the street! It’s best to respect the power these cars possess and only let it loose on the track.

These cars are deceiving. They’re quiet, they’re planted, and they don’t feel like a clapped out street racer rattling around. These cars are deceptively fast. So, yeah, the best advice I can give is “slow your roll and treat these cars with respect.”

That’s actually why we offer a Bondurant driving school. Dodge’s whole theme is, don’t do it on the street. That’s also why we offer NMCA partnership – just make sure you bring a helmet.

Basically, we sell high horsepower cars, and we want to be cognizant of that.

SM: Are there any shared options or items that can be purchased to make the Hellcat or 1320 more like the Redeye or Demon?

DB: There aren’t really any options from the manufacturer or dealer to make the Hellcat more like the Redeye, or the 1320 more like the Demon.

While the 1320 shares the soul of the Demon with its drag-focused features, the Demon’s 840hp heart is one-of-a-kind.

For example, the Scat Pack 1320 has, not the heart, but the soul of the Demon, because the Demon is a drag-race-inspired car and so is the 1320.

SM: Okay, so then what options do these cars share? For example, can you order a rear seat delete or Speed Logic harness bar on a Hellcat like you can with a Demon?

DB:  Line lock, torque reserve, and rear seat delete are featured on all of these Challenger models (1320, SRT Demon, SRT Hellcat Redeye.) The trans brake and passenger seat delete are only featured on the 1320 and Demon. The 3.09 axle ratio comes standard on the Demon and 1320, but it’s offered as an option for the Redeye. (The Redeye’s standard axle ratio 2.62.)

2019 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat Redeye Widebody – Houndstooth interior. The rear seat delete option can be had on any of the Challengers mentioned in this article.

SM: What modes are shared across the platforms and which are unique to specific models? 

DB: All (1320, SRT Demon, SRT Hellcat Redeye) share Drive Modes, Performance Pages, and Race Options.

First, you have Torque Reserve — this becomes active once the engine speed passes 950 rpm. The system closes the bypass valve, “prefilling” the intake with boost, manages fuel flow to cylinders, and manages spark timing to balance engine rpm and torque. Then there is Launch Assist, which helps resolve one of the biggest challenges to clean launches and driveline integrity – wheel hop.

Wheel hop happens when tires quickly slip and regain traction at launch, rapidly storing up and releasing energy in the driveline. Those high-torque spikes can quickly and severely damage driveline components. Until now, the only solution was to back out of the throttle.

Well, the Challenger SRT Hellcat models use wheel speed sensors to watch for signs of the tires slipping or sticking. If wheel hop is detected, the engine control module momentarily reduces torque to maximize traction almost instantly – without the driver having to lift the throttle. Launch Assist reduces loads in the driveline from wheel hop by up to 20 percent.

There are also the Drive Modes that are accessed via the 8.4-inch Uconnect touchscreen. Drivers can tailor their experience by adjusting horsepower, transmission shift speeds, steering effort, paddle shifters, traction, and suspension settings. SRT Drive Modes (not included on 1320) offer selectable settings for Street (Auto), Sport, and Track. There is also a Custom setting for the driver to select individual preference.

And finally [applying to all 1320, SRT Demon, SRT Hellcat Redeye], there are the Performance Pages. The Pages bring critical vehicle performance data to the driver’s fingertips, including a real-time dyno graph, a g-force heat map, and much more.

There are also some modes unique to the Redeye (also available on SRT Hellcat and Scat Pack models – not 1320). Starting with Launch Control — it holds the engine at optimal launch RPM and waits for the driver to release the brake. Launch Control then uses engine torque management to optimize wheel slip for maximum acceleration. All Challenger models with Launch Control receive an improved system that increases hold time from five to 10-seconds for optimal launch and consistent straight-line acceleration.

Launch Control being put to use by a Hellcat Redeye.

Then there’s Line Lock, which engages the front brakes to hold the Challenger stationary but leaves the rear wheels free for a burnout to heat up and clean the rear tires. The system also enables the driver to perform a controlled rolling burnout and can engage for up to 200 rear wheel revolutions.

Lastly [with respect to the Redeye] there’s Track Mode. Track Mode delivers maximum vehicle performance capability on smooth, dry surfaces. It does so by tightening up to full hard suspension damping and steering gradient feel for maximum cornering response.

Of course, there are also some unique to the Demon and 1320. You have the Trans Brake, which locks the output shaft of the TorqueFlite eight-speed automatic transmission to hold the car before launch. This allows the driver to increase engine rpm for higher torque and quicker response.

Named for the quarter-mile distance (1,320 feet), the Challenger R/T Scat Pack 1320 is powered by the stalwart 392 HEMI V-8 that delivers 485 horsepower and 475 lb.-ft. of torque. It also shares the Drag Mode with the Dodge Demon.

It also sports Drag Mode, offering a unique vehicle setup designed specifically for drag racing performance. Traction control, suspension, steering, and transmission settings are placed in their optimal configuration to maximize drag racing performance. The drag suspension tuning maximizes weight transfer to the rear wheels for better traction at launch.

The SRT-tuned three-mode Adaptive Damping Suspension is electronically retuned for the 2020 Dodge Challenger R/T Scat Pack 1320 and includes Drag Mode to optimize weight transfer to the rear for best launch traction. Drag Mode can be engaged through a new button in the center stack.

Lastly, Drag Mode Launch Assist uses wheel speed sensors to watch for driveline-damaging wheel hop at launch and in milliseconds modifies the engine torque to regain full grip and then continues accelerating the car down the track

SM: With all that talk about Pages, how different are the Pages across the Challenger platform? 

DB: There are only minor differences based on the features that are available in the car. We use consistent pages/layouts for continuity across vehicles and performance models. SRT and R/T Scat Pack models offer vehicle control with SRT Drive Modes.

Performance Pages allow users to view critical vehicle performance data, including a real-time dyno graph, a g-force heat map, and much more.

Dodge Performance pages are shared across the performance models in the Challenger lineup (GT and above). For example, the Challenger R/T Scat Pack 1320 has Dodge Performance Pages and has Drag Mode vs Track Mode because it is designed for drag racing specifically.

Recap:

So, there you have it modern Mopar muscle enthusiasts. We hope this interview with some of Dodge’s own sheds some light on differences, similarities, and common misconceptions surrounding the big cat family.

Whether you’re in the market for one of Dodge’s most ferocious felines, or simply interested in impressing your friends with some newfound vehicular knowledge, the info above and the bonus factoids below will surely do the trick.

Bonus Factoids and Trivia:

SRT:

The iconic black satin hood is exclusive for SRT, which is basically the Six-Pack Superbee of our time.

Satin Black hoods are only available on SRT models.

Demon:

TransBrake, Torque Reserve, Drag Mode, and Launch Assist were all introduced on the 2018 Challenger SRT Demon as first-ever features on a factory-production car.

The 840-horsepower Challenger SRT Demon was the fastest quarter-mile production car in the world and most powerful muscle car ever – bar none.

What other modern muscle cars can claim a Guinness World Record?

The Demon is also the world’s first production car to lift the front wheels at launch, setting a Guinness World Record for the longest wheelie from a standing start by a production car at 2.92 feet.

Beyond its limited-production run, the SRT Demon has additional industry-first features and accessories that are completely unique and not available on any other Challenger model, including:

  • The wide Air-Grabber hood scoop
  • the largest functional hood scoop (45.2 square inches) of any production car
  • Demon badges flanking each fender
  • Lightweight 18-inch-by-11-inch wheels with exclusive, specifically designed Demon-branded 315/40R18 Nitto NT05R drag radial tires front and rear
  • Available narrow “front runner” wheels for use at drag strips
  • Available Direct Connection engine controller calibrated for 100+ unleaded high-octane fuel
  • The Demon Crate, available to buyers of the Dodge Challenger SRT Demon, contains components that fully unleash the car’s potential at the drag strip and is fully customized with the buyer’s name, VIN and serial number
  • A custom, serialized instrument panel badge with “Demon” script signifies the build sequence number and was named and badged for the owner

R/T Scat Pack 1320:

Showroom stock? Yeah, it’s got enough juice to be feared on the drag strip.

The 2019 Dodge Challenger R/T Scat Pack 1320 is the fastest naturally aspirated, street-legal muscle car available. In showroom-stock form, it consistently lays down a quarter-mile elapsed time of 11.7-seconds at 115 miles per hour.



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