Inside The Big Cat Family: Examining Dodge’s Hellcat DNA

Listen up, all you big cat enthusiasts. If you’ve been pondering the similarities and differences between some of Dodge’s most beastly offerings, this read is for you. We know, it’s a long list to choose from, but each of them share similar DNA. We wanted some clarity ourselves, so we reached out to folks at FCA and did a little digging.

Is there any Mopar color more recognizable than Plum Crazy Purple? 

Our first thought was – let’s clear up some common questions and misconceptions. When we spoke with the folks at Dodge, we shotgunned a series of questions at them about the similarities and differences between Dodge’s Challenger R/T Scat Pack 1320, Hellcat Redeye, and Demon. Being the Mopar aficionados they are, they fielded them with ease. So, for your reading and viewing pleasure, we present the interview and Dodge Brand’s answers below:

The Interview:

With so many offerings under the Challenger umbrella, it’s important to understand who each of these models is targeting. For the uninitiated, it can seem like a daunting task but stick with us and you’ll be able to spot a real-deal Hellcat in the wild with no problem!

Each model has certain features that differentiate it from the others, but underneath, they have a lot in common. For example, everyone knows of the fabled Dodge Demon. You know – the fire-breathing 840hp monster built for the drag strip? Well, you might be surprised to know that it shares similar equipment with not only the Hellcat Redeye, but the R/T Scat Pack 1320 as well.

We’ll dive into all that and more below.

SM: First, can you start by telling us who the target audience is for each one of these models?

DB (Dodge Brand): Starting with the Demon, you have a vehicle that’s highly capable on the street, and absolutely dominating at the drag strip. The Dodge Challenger SRT Demon was aimed at the ultimate performance enthusiast. Limited in production to just 3,300 units for the 2018 model year, the 840-horsepower Challenger SRT Demon was the fastest quarter-mile production car in the world and most powerful muscle car ever – bar none, a 9-second muscle car, unlike anything else.

What other modern muscle cars can claim a Guinness World Record?

The Demon is also the world’s first production car to lift the front wheels at launch, setting a Guinness World Record for the longest wheelie from a standing start by a production car at 2.92 feet. Beyond its limited-production run, the SRT Demon has additional industry-first features and accessories that are completely unique and not available on any other Challenger model, including:

  • The wide Air-Grabber hood scoop – the largest functional hood scoop (45.2 square inches) of any production car
  • Demon badges flanking each fender
  • Lightweight 18-inch-by-11-inch wheels with exclusive, specifically designed Demon-branded 315/40R18 Nitto NT05R drag radial tires front and rear
  • Available narrow “front runner” wheels for use at drag strips
  • Available Direct Connection engine controller calibrated for 100+ unleaded high-octane fuel
  • The Demon Crate, available to buyers of the Dodge Challenger SRT Demon, contains components that fully unleash the car’s potential at the drag strip and is fully customized with the buyer’s name, VIN and serial number
  • A custom, serialized instrument panel badge with “Demon” script signifies the build sequence number and was named and badged for the owner

Don’t let its comparatively unassuming looks fool you. The Challenger R/T Scat Pack 1320 shares similar genetic makeup with the fabled Dodge Demon!

Then you have the 1320. The Challenger R/T Scat Pack 1320 builds on Scat Pack’s ‘most muscle for the dollar’ starting at a U.S. MSRP of $46,080 and is designed for the grassroots drag racer. Infused with drag strip technology and features from the SRT Demon, the R/T Scat Pack 1320 is powered by the 485-horsepower 392 HEMI V-8 and is a street-to-strip muscle car, producing quick launches for bracket racers. With a quarter-mile (1,320 feet) elapsed time (E.T.) of 11.7 seconds at 115 miles per hour, the showroom-stock 2019 Dodge Challenger R/T Scat Pack 1320 is the fastest naturally aspirated, street-legal muscle car available.

2019 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat Redeye Widebody sporting the iconic snorkel hood.

Lastly, there’s the SRT Hellcat Redeye. Introduced for the 2019 model year, the Demon-possessed, 797-horsepower Challenger SRT Hellcat Redeye and is the most powerful and fastest muscle car that brings power and performance to an even wider high-performance enthusiast audience as the halo model for Challenger lineup. It’s currently eligible for the industry-exclusive, Dodge Power Dollars program with a $7,970 cash allowance.

Challenger R/T Scat Pack 1320, SRT Hellcat, Hellcat Redeye, and Demon all doing their thing at the drag strip.

SM: With each Challenger being different than the last, what should people know about each of these cars before they drive them on the road and on the track?

DB: Although they are all Challengers, they all have a very unique personality and were developed for specific purposes. Each model was designed for a specific audience and with a primary goal in mind (e.g. target audience above). However, there is one common thread you’ll notice across all three of these models, and that is they are fully capable of being excellent daily drivers.

Although they all have rumbling V-8s under the hood, each of these cars is a true GT car, where a driver can comfortably settle in and experience excellent on-road driving dynamics enjoyable for everyday life or a drive across the country, as well as tear it up the drag strip or race track along the way, using with the various selectable Drive Mode settings.

Each of these Challenger models offers an Adaptive Damping Suspension and Drive Modes, which allow the driver to adjust his or her preferred suspension stiffness settings in addition to steering, throttle, and transmission shift speed and feel.

If Goldberg is a fan of the Demon, you know it’s gotta be good!

SM: We know our readers will want to know – Are there any shared manufacturer or dealer options & items that can be purchased to make the Hellcat or 1320 more like the Redeye or Demon? 

DB: There are no options from the manufacturer or dealer to make the Hellcat more like the Redeye or 1320 more like the Demon.

2019 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat Redeye Widebody putting its tires to good use.

SM: In that case, what options do the cars share? For example, can you order a rear seat delete or speed logic harness bar on a hellcat like you can with a demon?

DB: Line lock, Torque Reserve, rear seat delete, and 3.09 axle ratio are featured on all of these Challenger models (1320, SRT Demon, SRT Hellcat Redeye). Transbrake and the passenger seat delete are featured on 1320 and Demon.

Imagine going wheels up like that on the street! It’s best to respect the power these cars possess and only let it loose on the track. 

While the 1320 shares the soul of the Demon with its drag-focused features, the Demon's 840hp heart is one-of-a-kind.

2019 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat Redeye Widebody – Houndstooth interior. The rear seat delete option can be had on any of the Challengers mentioned in this article.

SM: So, what modes are shared across the platforms and which are unique to specific models? 

DB: All (1320, SRT Demon, SRT Hellcat Redeye) share Drive Modes, Performance Pages, and Race Options.

First, you have Torque Reserve — this becomes active once the engine speed passes 950 rpm. The system closes the bypass valve, “prefilling” the intake with boost, manages fuel flow to cylinders, and manages spark timing to balance engine rpm and torque. Then there is Launch Assist, which helps resolve one of the biggest challenges to clean launches and driveline integrity – wheel hop.

Wheel hop happens when tires quickly slip and regain traction at launch, rapidly storing up and releasing energy in the driveline. Those high-torque spikes can quickly and severely damage driveline components. Until now, the only solution was to back out of the throttle.

Well, the Challenger SRT Hellcat models use wheel speed sensors to watch for signs of the tires slipping or sticking. If wheel hop is detected, the engine control module momentarily reduces torque to maximize traction almost instantly – without the driver having to lift the throttle. Launch Assist reduces loads in the driveline from wheel hop by up to 20 percent.

There are also the Drive Modes that are accessed via the 8.4-inch Uconnect touchscreen. Drivers can tailor their experience by adjusting horsepower, transmission shift speeds, steering effort, paddle shifters, traction, and suspension settings. SRT Drive Modes (not included on 1320) offer selectable settings for Street (Auto), Sport, and Track. There is also a Custom setting for the driver to select individual preference.

And finally [applying to all 1320, SRT Demon, SRT Hellcat Redeye], there are the Performance Pages. The Pages bring critical vehicle performance data to the driver’s fingertips, including a real-time dyno graph, a g-force heat map, and much more.

There are also some modes unique to the Redeye (also available on SRT Hellcat and Scat Pack models – not 1320). Starting with Launch Control — it holds the engine at optimal launch RPM and waits for the driver to release the brake. Launch Control then uses engine torque management to optimize wheel slip for maximum acceleration. All Challenger models with Launch Control receive an improved system that increases hold time from five to 10-seconds for optimal launch and consistent straight-line acceleration.

Launch Control being put to use by a Hellcat Redeye.

Then there’s Line Lock, which engages the front brakes to hold the Challenger stationary but leaves the rear wheels free for a burnout to heat up and clean the rear tires. The system also enables the driver to perform a controlled rolling burnout and can engage for up to 200 rear wheel revolutions.

Lastly [with respect to the Redeye] there’s Track Mode. Track Mode delivers maximum vehicle performance capability on smooth, dry surfaces. It does so by tightening up to full hard suspension damping and steering gradient feel for maximum cornering response.

Of course, there are also some unique to the Demon and 1320. You have the Trans Brake, which locks the output shaft of the TorqueFlite eight-speed automatic transmission to hold the car before launch. This allows the driver to increase engine rpm for higher torque and quicker response.

Named for the quarter-mile distance (1,320 feet), the Challenger R/T Scat Pack 1320 is powered by the stalwart 392 HEMI V-8 that delivers 485 horsepower and 475 lb.-ft. of torque. It also shares the Drag Mode with the Dodge Demon.

It also sports Drag Mode, offering a unique vehicle setup designed specifically for drag racing performance. Traction control, suspension, steering, and transmission settings are placed in their optimal configuration to maximize drag racing performance. The drag suspension tuning maximizes weight transfer to the rear wheels for better traction at launch.

The SRT-tuned three-mode Adaptive Damping Suspension is electronically retuned for the 2020 Dodge Challenger R/T Scat Pack 1320 and includes Drag Mode to optimize weight transfer to the rear for best launch traction. Drag Mode can be engaged through a new button in the center stack.

Lastly, Drag Mode Launch Assist uses wheel speed sensors to watch for driveline-damaging wheel hop at launch and in milliseconds modifies the engine torque to regain full grip and then continues accelerating the car down the track

SM: With all that talk about Pages, how different are the Pages across the Challenger platform? 

DB: There are only minor differences based on the features that are available in the car. We use consistent pages/layouts for continuity across vehicles and performance models. SRT and R/T Scat Pack models offer vehicle control with SRT Drive Modes.

Performance Pages allow users to view critical vehicle performance data, including a real-time dyno graph, a g-force heat map, and much more.

Dodge Performance pages are shared across the performance models in the Challenger lineup (GT and above). For example, the Challenger R/T Scat Pack 1320 has Dodge Performance Pages and has Drag Mode vs Track Mode because it is designed for drag racing specifically.

Recap:

So, there you have it modern Mopar muscle enthusiasts. We hope this interview with some of Dodge’s own sheds some light on differences, similarities, and common misconceptions surrounding the big cat family.

Whether you’re in the market for one of Dodge’s most ferocious felines, or simply interested in impressing your friends with some newfound vehicular knowledge, the info above and the gallery below will surely do the trick.

Photo gallery

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About the author

Vinny Costa

Fast cars, motorcycles, and loud music are what get Vinny’s blood pumping. Catch him behind the wheel of his ’68 Firebird. Chances are, Black Sabbath will be playing in the background.
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