By now, even casual car enthusiasts are well aware of Chrysler’s insane, 707 horsepower Dodge Challenger Hellcat, which overloaded the interwebs a couple of months ago. Over the weekend, we were lucky to play host to one of only three Hellcats currently on the road in Canada and our time with the car showed just how widespread the legend of the Hellcat has become in just a very short time.
We were followed by owners of more pedestrian Challengers, who jockeyed for space in traffic just to wave, smile and give a thumbs up. We were approached in just about every parking lot by fans ranging from the drivers of other muscle cars to the grocery store shopping cart wrangler who begged me to start it up for him. One guy asked if this was “that wildcat thing”. He didn’t know the details, but he was aware of the car and knew it was different from any other Chally he had seen on the road.
To say that the made in Canada Hellcat has the performance to back up the buzz would be an understatement, but I wanted to see if the angry cat was tame enough to see daily duty around town. My first drive came in heavy rain, when I had to cross the top of the GTA and I quickly learned that the Hellcat is not a car for the faint of heart, nor for those lacking in attention span. With 650 ft/lb lurking beneath the right pedal, even the slightest bit of throttle overwhelms the stability control system in the rain, tossing the car sideways. Only those with advanced driver training need apply.
Like every other Challenger however, the Hellcat offers many features that make it more usable than most other sporting models on the market. The back seat is big enough to carry 3 teenage boys comfortably on the way to the rink, while the truck easily swallows a pair of big hockey bags. Hockey sticks have to ride in the cabin though. My kid and I even managed to bring a new folding ladder back home from Home Depot, with the trunk lid closed!
As one might expect, fuel economy is not the Hellcat’s strong suit, as it consumed gasoline at a rate of 18.3 L/100 km during the four days I drove it.
Perhaps the most significant feature of the Hellcat is the sticker price, which starts at $63,995 here in Canada. My tester had a few options which bumped it up to a tick over 70. Perhaps my mechanic said it best: “My truck cost more than this. I can drive this car around town and then take it to the strip on the weekend. I’m buying one next Spring.” This from a long time import drag racer who would never have considered a traditional domestic.