Dodge Challenger Launch Event: Featuring The SRT Hellcat

Last week we were invited by Dodge to Portland International Raceway to experience the 2015 Dodge Challenger lineup, naturally including the most powerful factory-spec muscle car ever produced, the Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat.

The event took place through the streets of Portland, OR, on some very twisty and scenic back roads, and it was finished off by spending a few hours at the racetrack. Just as luck would have it, the weather turned to the worst condition in weeks, right when we left the hotel to get to our meeting point; and later in the day, as we left the track, the clouds left the skies and the roads were nice and dry. Mother Nature sure does hate us (this is the second track event we’ve been too and rained out, click here to see our other event). But torrential downpours weren’t going to dampen our spirits, and we still made the best of the situation and pushed these powerful muscle cars as far as we could safely.

Dodge didn’t disappoint with the number of cars available to our group of journalists/bloggers, there were at least 30 challengers available; including the base V6, the R/T’s, and a handful of the mighty Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcats. The cars came in a variety of colorful paint schemes and had all the different equipment packages available for each car.

Dodge Challenger SXT

2015 Dodge Challenger SXT

On the first leg of the event, we were given a choice of any of the above cars to take on the streets and back roads of Portland. We chose the base model Dodge Challenger SXT, just to get a hang of the cars and the idea was to work our way up to the more powerful cars as we went along. The SXT is powered by a 3.6 liter Pentastar V6 engine producing 305 horsepower and 268 pound-feet of torque, power is sent to the rear wheels via an 8-speed automatic transmission. The Challenger SXT is the most affordable car in the lineup with prices starting at $26,995.

The Challenger SXT is the perfect car for people that want the look of the classic muscle car but don’t necessarily need the massive power associated with V8 powered muscle cars. During normal street driving, the 305 HP seemed good enough, not too much power to get you in trouble but just enough to have some fun and get the back end loose.

Dodge Challenger R/T

2015 Dodge Challenger 392 HEMI® Scat Pack Shaker

I enjoyed driving the V6 model on the street but when you drive a muscle car, you need to experience the rumble of a good ‘ole American V8. The Challenger R/T and R/T Plus Shaker models come with the 5.7 liter HEMI V8 engines the produce 375 horsepower and 410 pound-feet of torque. Power is sent to the rear wheels via a 6-speed manual or a ZF 8-speed automatic gearbox.

The legendary Shaker hood is back for the 2015 model year with the functional cold-air induction Shaker hood; giving the Challenger even more retro styling. The Challenger R/T models have a starting price of $31,495.

Dodge Challenger R/T 392 Scat Pack


Want even more power, the R/T Scat Pack has just what you need; powered by a 6.4 liter V8 engine that produces 485 horsepower and 475 pound-feet of torque, sent to the rear wheels via an 8-speed automatic transmission.

With more horsepower you need more braking power; Dodge took care of that with 4-piston Brembo high performance brake package. A sports suspension and large 20” wheels are also added for better cornering performance. There’s also a new front splitter and a deck lid spoiler. The Scat Pack cars also get a cool little “6.4 liter Scat Pack” fender badges.

The 2015 Dodge Challenger Scat Pack is probably the best deal here, with a good balance of power and equipment and a starting price of $38,495.

Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat


Maybe you’re one of those people that think 485 HP is just not enough, then you definitely want the Hellcat with its supercharged 6.2 liter HEMI V8 engine, producing a massive 707 horsepower and 650 pound-feet of torque. Making it the most powerful factory produced muscle car ever!! And yes, this thing has 7 more ponies under the hood than the Lamborghini Aventador, I know these are different classes of cars and don’t directly compete with each other, but I just thought I’d throw that in. The Hellcat is available with a 6-speed manual or an 8-speed ZF automatic transmission.

Driving the Challenger Hellcat

As much as I love racing, I’ve only driven on a racetrack once and it was pouring rain that time; and as I had expected, it was pouring rain the day we went to Portland International Raceway with the mighty Hellcat. 707 horsepower + a very wet racetrack + a novice wannabe racer = what could possibly go wrong?

Thankfully, nothing went wrong (I definitely didn’t want to be “that guy”), and it helped to have a professional racing instructor as a passenger in the Hellcat. But we didn’t really get to experience all the horsepower available because of the wet conditions, Dodge only let us use the black key on the wet track (the car comes with a black and a red key).

The “black key” is the street key that limits the V8’s power to “only” 500 HP, the engine revs to 4,000 rpm, transmission upshifts earlier, and other “nanny” electronics preventing you from making a fool of yourself. Nonetheless, the car was still a handful to drive in the wet and scary at moments, especially when coming out of a corner with too much exuberance. I would’ve have loved to experience the entire 707 HP, at least in the straight section of the track on a dry day.

There was however some good news, with just about 30 minutes to go, the track started to get dry. By the time my turn came, the track was completely dry and I let the instructor drive me around the track, I wanted to see exactly what this car could do. Had there been more time in the dry conditions, I would’ve loved to see how much I could extract out of the car, maybe next time.

With the red key now available, the instructor took off with the 6-speed manual. The car accelerated like nothing I’ve experience on four wheels, this thing is a rocket and will be an awesome drag racing machine; reaching over 120 mph in what seemed like a very short amount of time.

This is a heavy muscle car, would it be able to slow down enough to make the first corner was the thought that crossed my mind. And boy did it ever decelerate quickly! The 6-piston Brembo brakes with 15.4” discs at the front do a wonderful job of slowing this beast down and almost making me hit my helmet against the dashboard. After braking, the car actually turned in the corner, and did it with no fuss and pulling all sorts of g-forces. I was very impressed at how well the Hellcat cornered (for a muscle car) at the hands of the instructor. I did find it hard to stay planted in the seat while the car was being thrashed around in the corners; the seats are quite wide for my skinny frame.


After a few laps in the dry, the heavens opened up and we had a wet track again and we came in. Just in time for a very wet massive burnout by one of the instructors, this looked very cool because of the smoke from the tires and the steam created by wet track.

Overall, I was very impressed with the Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat. The power is very addicting and the cornering and braking will surprise you. And at a relatively low price of $59,995, this is a great buy for people looking for massive power.

From Front to Back: 2015 Dodge Challenger SXT, 2015 Challenger 3

Overall Impressions

Driving around in the various models of the Dodge Challenger lineup, I enjoyed my time in every single one of these cars, even the relatively tame V6 powered SXT. These cars are pretty refined with comfortable interiors that can be used on a daily basis, the modern muscle cars have come a long way, you could even call them sports cars. I would like to thank Chrysler/Dodge for inviting us to this event and we’re looking forward to covering future events.




Photo of author


Faisal is the cofounder and automotive photographer at Unfinished Man. He provides insider perspectives on the latest rides through his acclaimed photography. Faisal also serves as the site's watch expert, staying on the pulse of emerging timepieces. His seasoned eye for men's lifestyle products makes him an authoritative voice.

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