Once upon a time, the Dodge Challenger was just another muscle car. In fact, many considered it an also-ran when compared to the appeal of the top cars in the category: the Ford Mustang and Chevy Camaro.
But that was before Dodge came out with the “Hellcat” treatment. Basically, they strapped a huge-ass engine on it. That made the Challenger Hellcat a truly frightening monster on the road, and the new 2015 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat is proof positive of that. With its supercharged 6.2-liter V-8 engine, it now features an unbelievable 707 horsepower and 650 lb.-ft. of torque.
Forget about the Camaro and the Mustang, the fans of this particular Challenger Hellcat are crowing. Bring on the Nissan GT-R! But does that matchup even make sense at all? After all, we’re talking about a car that’s been dubbed as “Godzilla” that trounces Ferraris, Lamborghinis, and Porsches on the track.
But let’s take a look, shall we?
• The need for speed. When it comes to the Hellcat and the GT-R, the speed is paramount. For some, it’s not just the main thing—it’s the only thing. And the Hellcat doesn’t disappoint. That’s because the Hellcat is truly unbelievable. It can now finish a quarter mile in a blistering 11.7 seconds. And when the folks at Dodge changed the tires for something more suitable for drag racing, the time even improves to an eye-popping 11.2 seconds.
As for the mighty Nissan GT-R, the base 2015 premium edition has fewer ponies at just 545 horsepower and a paltry 463 lb-ft of torque. But horsepower and torque on paper isn’t what’s important, as even the stock base edition also goes through the quarter mile in just 11.2 seconds.
In other words, the most powerful of the Challengers is just as fast as the slowest of the new GT-Rs. If you want a really fast GT-R, you need to get Nismo version, which has 600 horsepower and 481 lb-ft of torque.
• Price. We don’t live in a fantasy world where everything is free, unfortunately. And here, the price tells you that it may not be really fair to compare the 2015 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat to the Nismo version. In fact, the cheaper standard edition 2015 Nissan GT-R already costs more than $101,000. The 2015 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat looks like a bargain at just $80,000. In other words, you can go toe to toe in drag race in a Hellcat against a GT-R, except that you still have an extra $21,000 in your pocket.
• Handling. There’s no debate here folks. The winner here is the GT-R, hands down. The Challenger has the soul of a muscle car, and that makes it a powerful running back going for the touchdown. But the GT-R is a ninja, as it’s quick and nimble and the handling is superb. In a proper test track, the GT-R will set records. The Hellcat may be too far behind because it may not handle the curves as well.
Of course, some purists may argue that there are too many assistance tools in the GT-R, and it makes even mediocre drivers seem like professional race car drivers. But that’s actually a good thing for most drivers.
• Practicality. This is actually a germane issue, because both the GT-R and the Challenger Hellcat is being touted as actual daily drivers. Seriously. In the Nissan, this can be seen in how comfortable the ride can be inside. The suspension isn’t as punishing as before, so now you can go to work or to the grocery in relative comfort. Of course, the seats in the back are just for display. You can put some luggage there, but those seats are so cramped you can’t put people there.
The Dodge Challenger Hellcat is also a two-door, but its seats in the back can actually fit in real people. This has actually enabled some sales people to tout this as a “family car”. So if you’re a husband with kids, then you can tell the wife that this is a great car for a family with little kids.
• Looks. This depends a lot on personal preferences. It also depends a lot on the type of women you want to attract. I don’t mean to be sexist, but according to just about every survey in history, most buyers of cars that go this fast are men. And part of the reason why men will buy a car like the Hellcat or the GT-R is to attract women.
But for the most part, the Challenger will appeal to regular folks who like brawn and all-American looks. As for the Nissan GT-R, it looks quintessentially Japanese, but with a hint of Euro sophistication.
But either way, get one of the two and you’d be one of the luckiest bastards in the world.
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