Is The Dodge Hellcat a Budget M5?

BMW M5 | April 3rd, 2015 by 11
bmw m5 dodge hellcat 750x500

So, would that make the Charger Hellcat and poor-man’s M5, for lack of a better term?

While at the New York International Auto Show (NYIAS), I spotted a car that seems to make a lot of sense to me. It surprised me, actually, as the idea of such a car is somewhat useless. No person in the real world would ever use this car to its full potential, but it exists anyway and I love it for that. The car in question is the Dodge Charger Hellcat.

The Hellcat twins are no secret, of course. Ever since Ralph Gilles, President and CEO of SRT, did a massive, smokey burnout in the Challenger Hellcat, they’ve had our attention.

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How could they not, both the Challenger and Charger Hellcats house a 6.2 liter supercharged V8 to produce a mind-warping 707 hp. British racing driver, Justin Bell, recently tested out pretty much every big, fast sedan on the market (including the BMW M5) and the Charger Hellcat was faster than them all, with a claimed top speed of 204 mph. But who in their right mind would actually use 707 hp on the street? Nobody, really. There simply isn’t enough open tarmac to allow 707 hp to be unleashed anywhere near civilization.

Which got me thinking of another big sedan whose abilities are similarly unused — The BMW M5.

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The BMW M5 has a 4.4 liter twin-turbo V8 thumper under its hood and can nail 60 mph in under 4 seconds. It also has the handling chops of a leather-lined, four-door Lotus. But what do you think the percentage of M5 buyers that track their car is? Probably less than five percent. It’s an incredibly capable super-sedan, but because it’s also supremely comfortable, most people just buy it as the highest trim level 5 Series. Which isn’t fair to the car, or us enthusiasts who’d give a prized body part just to flog one around a track. But to be fair to those who don’t use it in such a way, the M5 is priced on the wrong side of $90,000 and gets into the six-figures with only few options, so who wants to potentially damage their $100,000 luxury car?

So, would that make the Charger Hellcat and poor-man’s M5, for lack of a better term? The Charger HC starts at $62,295 which isn’t necessarily cheap either, but it’s more the $30,000 less than the starting price of the M5 and comes similarly equipped and has more power. Granted, the Hellcat can’t/won’t handle the way and M5 can. The Hellcat is more brutish, forcing the tarmac into submission like a stampeding mammoth. The M5 is still a brute, due to its power and weight, but a much more graceful one, think Emmitt Smith of Dancing With The Stars, not the ground-and-pound NFL Running Back.

So the two sedans are a bit different, but they both serves a similar task — to be massively powerful, comfortable, rear-wheel drive sedans, and they both do that excellently. Sure the M5 is much more luxurious and the interior is of a much higher grade, but the Hellcat isn’t exactly a Turkish prison either. And since both cars will rarely be used to their potential, the handling and exact power figures are irrelevant. The simple fact is, both cars are rear-driven sedans which roast their rear tires at will and can ride comfortably in 7th or 8th gear on the highway with four adults seated comfortably. The M5 is the better car, no doubt, but for those who can’t afford one, might the Dodge Charger Hellcat be the low-cost alternative?

11 responses to “Is The Dodge Hellcat a Budget M5?”

  1. CDspeed says:

    I noticed this earlier speaking of those who buy them simply to buy the highest trim level.

  2. Ben says:

    Both have massive horsepower they cannot fully put down. Smoke tires like crazy. Useless in the wet. A waste of power and tires

    • Auto Motive says:

      Ben my man you are not a car guy. You have not been in a family where dad had a car that was pure hell from red light to red light. Its a car guys dream to have 1000 hp under your hood even if you never smoke the tires even once. But its something else when you have it at the drag strip and slap a pair of nitto slicks to the rear and smoke them 1000 feet down the track. Its called a fun trip.

    • JC says:

      A set of 305 Nitto DR’s for less than $700 says otherwise. This car has done high 10s by several owners. You just need to know how to drive it properly

    • maroon5five says:

      Some see it as a waste, others see it as having a little fun.

  3. 2sfhim says:

    “There isn’t enough open tarmac to allow 707 hp to be unleashed anywhere near civilization” : well, no, on German autobahns. But, of course, a 530i or a 550i can do the same job and will be more comfortable. There are many German drivers with sedans driving at 200 km/h and more to go to work everyday.

  4. Ofentse Letsholo says:

    It would have been nice if we had interior images too.

  5. Tire Rod says:

    I personally would buy it just to have the highest trim level as does most people I see driving it on my daily work commute stuck in traffic.
    Just nice to know you have that power under the hood.

  6. Tinky-Winky says:

    Why not put it the other way – is the M5 an overpriced Dodge Hellcat?

    • Pedros says:

      As a bmw fan who respects motoring history I’m going to have to stop the editor here. The Americans invented the v8 engine (cadillac) and own the v8 muscle car. As much as my German blood hates to admit it they own this space and always will. Bmw are really only a recent addition to the world of v8s. The charger has been around since the 60s. The m5 is a German creation (copy if you will) of a charger but with European cues (handling bias). The one beef I have with the m5 is the twin turbos drone out the v8 ruining it’s sound. The hemi sounds worlds better and is more fun to throw around.

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