The Challenger Ups The Ante

It=92s unusual for a niche vehicle to experience increasing sales years
after its introduction, but that=92s exactly what has happened to the
Dodge Challenger.
Oddly enough, 2010 has been the best year set for sales of the big
coupe, so it=92s no wonder that the 2011 model has received some
upgrades to keep it in the sales race. The new top of the Challenger
line is the 6.4-liter SRT8 392, which adds more power, a revised
suspension and brand-spankin=92 new white leather seats. About that 392
name: It=92s derived from the revised engine=92s displacement, which
emulates the drag race and top-speed challenge winning =9260s 392 HEMIs.
Of course, this engine is entirely modern.
We took it for a spin around Northern California=92s Infineon Raceway to
see what=92s changed.
Power to spare
Last year=92s SRT-8 packed a 6.1 liter HEMI V-8 and produced 425
horsepower, hardly making it a slouch. The new engine ups the ante to
470 horsepower and 470 lb-ft. of torque. More of a good thing.
That second number is important because the Chrysler engineers wanted
to dramatically increase the way Challenger drivers perceive the
=93shove in the back=94 delivered through the six-speed Tremec manual or
five-speed Mercedes-Benz-designed automatic transmission. The
additional displacement and new tuning is apparent from throttle tip-
in; this engine is stronger across the rev band and feels genuinely
heroic at times.
The old SRT8 was occasionally less than magic on a racetrack, mostly
due to an unwillingness to negotiate low-speed corners. This year=92s
car features new shock absorbers, revised suspension bushings and grip-
friendly negative camber on all four corners. The improvement is
apparent from our first turn at Sonoma=92s Infineon Raceway, where the
Challenger hangs on gamely through the slow stuff and holds additional
corner speed in the fast back section.
Grip is up to 0.93 g=92s on the skidpad, Dodge says, but numbers only go
so far to explain the wholly revised driving experience.
It=92s a real pleasure to steer and although it will never trouble a
modern Corvette on-track, a 370Z might not be completely safe.
Inaugural Package shines
Get your order in quickly, because 1,492 2011 Challenger SRT8s will be
available as the =93Inaugural Package,=94 featuring racing stripes and
rather outrageous interior. Our sources say that all of the available
cars have been spoken for, either through customer pre-orders or
dealer inventory requests, so be prepared to pay solid money to get
behind the wheel of one.
The package is strictly cosmetic, however; all the go-fast stuff can
be found beneath the skin of every 2011 SRT-8 model.
We have plenty of laps around Infineon under our belt, and although
our time in the Challenger was limited, we feel confident in
predicting that it will stay close to a Ford Shelby GT500 in most
situations and probably put a little gap on the Chevrolet Camaro SS.
You can=92t beat the laws of physics, but with this latest round of
suspension tuning the Dodge boys have managed to make it a pleasure to
steer this rather large and bulky coupe around a racetrack.
Entering Infineon=92s Turn One at over 100 mph will make a believer out
of all but the staunchest domestic denigrator.
Leftlane=92s bottom line
It isn=92t cheap and it won=92t be easy to get, but the 2011 Inaugural
Edition will be a real treat for everybody lucky enough to put one in
their driveway. We=92ll take a regular 6.4-liter SRT-8 in black or
possibly the new =93Green With Envy=94 for all the performance at a
slightly reduced cost.
But any way you paint it, the changes add up to more precision and
more power for Dodge=92s retro-modern coupe.
Reply to

Site Timeline Threads

MotorsForum website is not affiliated with any of the manufacturers or service providers discussed here. All logos and trade names are the property of their respective owners.