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2019 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat Redeye First Drive

2019 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat Redeye First Drive

The 2019 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat Redeye has a name as long as the tire stripes it will leave in front of your house. It is a silly, unreasonable sort of transportation in the same way that an ice cream sundae is a silly, unreasonable sort of food. Both are easy to overdo but ultimately delightful.

Our first drive of this gooey snack of a car occurs at Club Motorsports in New Hampshire, where we get a chance to see how 797 horsepower behaves on a racetrack and on the street. Unsurprisingly, it's a lot of fun, but so is the regular Challenger SRT Hellcat, which now offers 717 horsepower and only slightly slower straight-line performance. Is the Redeye's extra 80 hp worth an extra $11,000 over the base Hellcat's $61,745 starting price (including destination and gas-guzzler tax)? Probably not, but we wouldn't blame you for getting one anyway. Who's going to turn down an extra scoop of ice cream?

2019 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat Redeye First Drive

What Is The Redeye?
The Challenger Redeye is made up of ingredients from other Dodge Challenger models, namely the Hellcat Widebody and the drag-race-inspired Demon. That Demon engine, called the Hellcat High Output in the spec sheet, sets the Redeye apart from lesser V8 Challengers. The Redeye gets the Demon's larger supercharger on a beefed-up 6.2-liter V8, but it does not get the massive single-scoop hood or available high-octane fuel tune that permits 840 hp. The Redeye can only brag about 797 horses.

Despite this incredible handicap, Dodge says the Redeye runs a 0-60 mph in 3.4 seconds and clears the quarter-mile in 10.8 seconds at 131 mph. That's 4 mph faster than the Hellcat Widebody, which covers the same distance in 10.9 seconds.

The Redeye gets stronger connecting rods and pistons, a more capable fuel-injection system and improved oiling of the Demon, as well as a system that can divert air conditioning to the engine to cool it before an acceleration run. Other drag-racing tricks include a line lock, a launch control, and a feature that adjusts engine timing and fuel delivery to help build boost from the supercharger. The Redeye doesn't have the Demon's sticky drag radials, transbrake or other drag-racing optimizations, so don't expect wheelies. But if you need to brag, the Redeye has a top speed of 203 mph.

While you can get a six-speed manual transmission in a Hellcat, the Redeye is only available with an eight-speed automatic because Dodge doesn't have a manual rated for 707 pound-feet of torque. You do, however, have an option of rear gear ratios: a standard 2.62:1 or optional 3.09:1 for quicker acceleration.

Big drivelines deserve big brakes, and the Redeye comes standard with 15.4-inch vented and slotted rotors and six-piston Brembo calipers in the front and 13.8-inch vented and slotted rotors with four-piston fixed Brembo calipers in the rear.

2019 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat Redeye First Drive

Is It Drivable?
If you come to this car with any old-school muscle-car experience, you'll be blown away by the Redeye's street manners. No messy idle, no surging power. If you keep your foot contained to the first inch of gas pedal travel, only the light whine of the supercharger and a few flatulent pops from the exhaust clue you in to anything devilish beneath the hood.

Keep the traction control and transmission in their street settings and the Redeye is a perfect angel, offering you 22 mpg on the highway. But if you listen to the voice on the other shoulder, turn the settings to Sport or Track and let your foot down, well, you better not let your attention wander. Even half-throttle has you at triple digits before you can say, "Sorry, Officer." If you somehow keep it at wide-open, you'll drain the 18-gallon fuel tank in 11 minutes.

2019 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat Redeye First Drive

So, It's a Race Car?
Not really. Sure, you could take it to a local track and do well on a dragstrip. Despite its heft, it isn't hard to keep it on the gray parts going around a road course. But if you want a track car, there are better options. Its Detroit nestmates, the Chevrolet Camaro and Ford Mustang, are smaller and lighter, making them better suited for curves.

Quick lap times require sacrifices in ride quality and passenger space. The Challenger's plus-sizing makes it ideal as a daily driver. The trunk is big (16.2 cubic feet), the back seat is actually usable for adult passengers, and the 8.4-inch Uconnect entertainment system is easy to use. While time on track in the car is amusing, it's the street driving that really stands out. Eight hundred horsepower eliminates the tedium of the daily commute, be it going through a tollbooth, stopping for coffee, or sitting in traffic with the air conditioning on, the radio blaring, and the cooled seats chilling your rear.

2019 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat Redeye First Drive

Which 700 HP-Plus Challenger Should I Buy?
Since the Demon is no longer for sale, you're not going to get one unless you go secondhand. That means the decision is between the Redeye and the standard Hellcat. The substantial price difference between the two means you can get a fully loaded Hellcat for the same money as an entry Redeye.

If you've never had a car with more than 400 horsepower, upgrading to a standard Hellcat makes sense. But if your garage has housed powerful high-performance cars or if you missed your opportunity with the Demon, it's time to step up to the Redeye.

The 2019 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat Redeye is available in late 2018 and starts at $72,745, including destination and gas-guzzler tax.