But the Mopar men and women were not done yet. In 2017 they unveiled the Dodge Challenger Demon, an all-out performance version of the SRT Challenger, boasting an even more ludicrous 808 horsepower on pump gas. This track-ready beast was stripped down as much as marketing deemed possible, in favor of weight reduction, and unleashing absolute maximum performance.
Let’s take a look at how a hundred-horsepower difference in power translates to vehicle performance – and whether it’s worth the extra expense.
How The Numbers Play Out
The Hellcat is a Dodge Hemi on supercharger steroids. Borrowing its 4.09″ bore from the 6.4L, and its 3.578″ stroke from the 5.7L, total displacement winds up at 6.2L, with a 9.5:1 compression ratio. It comes with three keys: one black and two red. The black fob, while presumably intended for valets & teenagers, nevertheless lets a not-to-be-sneezed-at 500 horses out of the corral. Red, on the other hand, sets free all 707 horsepower (@ 6000 RPM), and 650 lb-ft of torque (@ 4000 RPM) that the engine is capable of, courtesy of 11.6 PSI of howling boost from the intercooled supercharger.
The Demon shares its color-coded key fobs and 6.2L displacement with its older brother, but in addition to improved internals, it equips a larger supercharger, capable of up to 14.5 PSI of boost. While you can stick with 91 octane for everyday street driving, filling up with 100 or better will allow the Demon to claw its way to new heights, with a staggering maximum output of 840 horsepower and 770 lb-ft of torque.
As you can see in the above video, while the Demon has a considerable upper hand in torque and horsepower, the Hellcat isn’t going down without a fight. Launch occurs at 1:39, but due to visible traction issues and general “squirrelyness,” the Demon doesn’t begin to overtake the Hellcat until 1:47. At that point, of course, the Demon walks away quite handily, free of tire-spinning concerns, and able to fully utilize its power advantage at the top end.
Weighing in at 4590 pounds, the Challenger Hellcat may not be light, but it is fast, with a 3.9 second 0-60 time, and a 12.1 second quarter mile at 128 MPH, straight from the factory in 2015. The Demon needed to do better than that, and doing it on engine alone wasn’t enough. In pursuit of that lofty goal, Chrysler engineers took a well-known page out of Lotus founder Colin Chapman‘s book: “Simplify, then add lightness.”
The first item on the chopping block was the seats. That’s right, unless you specified otherwise (for a dollar each), your Demon wouldn’t be cruising with any passengers. Losing those and the floor mats reduced your load by a not insignificant 113 pounds – plus the weight of whoever would have been riding with you. You could still (kind of) crank tunes with your 2-speaker audio system, trading 14 of them, the subwoofer, amplifier, and all their associated wiring for an additional 24 pound loss.
Removal of coverings & trim in the trunk, and sound & vibration deadening materials nets another 38 loud pounds. Giving up the power-adjusted steering positioning for a manual version, and losing the automatic park sensing system drops 6 more. Finally, using a slew of lightweight components, including front & rear sway bars, brake rotors & calipers, lug nuts, and aluminum alloy wheels, another 51 pounds were dropped.
Altogether, this made for 232 pounds of weight savings, which, when considered with the greater power of the Demon, makes for a notable difference in power to weight ratio. While the 4590 pound 2015 Challenger Hellcat sits fairly pretty with 308 HP/ton, the 4255 pound 2018 Challenger Demon sports an outstanding 395 HP/ton. This allows it to hit 60 MPH in a 1.8G, 2.3 second launch, and lay down sub-10-second quarter mile runs – making it banned in NHRA competition, as it lacks a roll cage.
What About Cost?
This is where it starts to hurt. The 2015 Challenger Hellcat was sold for a MSRP of just under $60,000. Certainly not cheap, but affordable for many, and an absolute bargain for the performance you get. However, when the 2018 Demon arrived, it commanded a whopping $85,000 MSRP. Breaking it down by the performance numbers, this means you’d be spending an additional $25,000, or 42%, to drop about 2.5 seconds on your quarter mile, a 20% improvement.
For all-out performance nuts with money to burn, this is a steal, especially considering it’s faster to 60 and down the strip than supercars three to five times its price – but let’s be honest, most burnout enthusiasts are going to have a hard time frowning about “just” over 700 horsepower under their hood. Furthermore, the average person isn’t likely to have the means to own more than one car of this grade at a time, so having a nice stereo, sound deadeners, and seats simply shows consideration for your future passengers. Plus, stomping the loud pedal is just a lot more fun when you can enjoy it with your hooting, hollering, bad-decision-encouraging friends.
All things considered, these are both incredibly impressive machines. You’ve got two devils on your shoulder, and now you know them both: one is a screaming all-out speed machine; the other is option-rich, daily driver material, but no slouch by any measure. Let’s face it – whether you ultimately choose strictly business in the left lane, or cruising pleasure in the right, the Hellcat is a tire-shredding good time, guaranteed to leave you with a devilish grin.