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.
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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.
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.
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?