The design of a modern day classic automobile isn’t shaped so much by the outward shell as it is by the memories it stirs up inside you. It’s a feeling in your gut as much as it is a visceral connection to the sounds of quad exhaust pipes or the way sunlight glistens from the polished alloy wheels.
|1. With a new 6.4L V8 under the hood, the SRT8 model makes 470-hp and 470 lb-ft of torque, a jump of 45-hp an 90 lb-ft respectively.
2. Dodge claims a high four second 0-60 mph time with a mid 12 second quarter-mile time and a top speed of 182-mph.
3. Thanks to cylinder deactivation the big V8 can run on just 4-cylinders, resulting in a 14/23-mpg rating.
4. While the 375-hp R/T model starts at under $30K the SRT9 392 retails for a whopping $43,995.
The 2012 Challenger SRT8 392 is the epitome of all that was good in the early ’70s with Dodge. A sensory overload on four wheels, I recently had occasion to spend time behind the wheel and regain a little of my lost youth.
HEMI POWER AND SURPRISING FUEL ECONOMY
Power comes in the guise of a 392 ci (6.4-liter) SRT HEMI V8 engine. It pounds the pavement with 470 horsepower at 6000 rpm and 470 lb-ft of torque at 4200 rpm. Zero to 60 mph takes a few ticks less than 5 seconds.
Power increases over the previous SRT8 by a total of 45 hp and 90 lb-ft as a result of significant modifications made to the previously formidable 6.1-liter HEMI engine. Changes include the addition of a new cold-air induction system, an active intake manifold, variable cam timing, high-flow cylinder heads and size increases for both the intake and exhaust valves to maximize airflow, combustion and efficiency.
Not all has to do with ultimate power, however, as there are times, especially in this era of high fuel costs, that you may want to cruise rather than bruise the pavement. Matched to the seamless AutoStick transmission, the V8 engine quickly transitions to four cylinders while driving at steady speeds on the highway or activating cruise control. Fuel-saver technology allows you the option to enjoy the best of both worlds. Ratings indicate 14-mpg city, 23-mpg highway
DRIVE IN STYLE – RIDE IN COMFORT
Matched to the standard Tremec TR-6060 six-speed manual transmission first offered on the 2008 Dodge Viper SRT10, shifts are smooth and easily controlled. Clutch feel is solid, but not heavy as was always the case back in the good old days. Moving through the gears at speeds capable of peeling rubber faster than you can say “392”; this Challenger is by far one of the most fun, high-performance cars I’ve driven in the past several years.
Ride quality is firm, but not overly so when compared to the Nissan 370Z NISMO, Ford Mustang Boss 302 and Chevrolet Camaro SS. The Challenger 392 SRT8 Inaugural Edition rides on 245/45/20 front and 255/45/20 rear tires mounted on SRT exclusive 5-spoke polished wheels with black painted pockets. Steering ratios are significantly quicker and new negative camber settings improve overall handling. Red caliper Brembo brakes bring everything to a controlled, rapid stop.
Exterior styling cues include a unique front chin spoiler, body-colored grille surround, exclusive “392 Hemi” badges and a rear deck spoiler. Two colors are offered for the limited volume Inaugural Edition; Deep Water Blue with Stone White stripes or Bright White Clear Coat with standard Viper Blue stripes.
A FFRESH TAKE ON A CLASSIC INTERIOR
Smooth Pearl White leather seats with dual blue stripes and blue stitching highlight the impressive interior. It’s a throw-back to a simpler time in automotive history, but with a fully functional 21st Century twist.
Blue lighting illuminates the black on white gauges as the sun sets. Dual cupholders feature LED lighting, casting a ghostly glow over the center storage console. A pistol-grip gear knob feels good; shifts are relatively short for this modern day North American muscle car. The joy of driving with one arm resting on the door sill and music blaring through 13 high-performance speakers is pure bliss.
In tune with the times, a 3-spoke steering wheel offers intuitive audio adjustment plus tilt functionality. The speedo reads up to 180 mph, a fact not lost on me as I push hard on the race inspired clutch and gas pedals. This is driving pleasure the way it was meant to be.
The 2011 Challenger SRT8 392 is not for everyone, nor was it ever intended to be. It represents the pinnacle of what Challenger means to Dodge at a time when parent company Chrysler is bent on re-inventing itself. The Camaro and Mustang may have the edge in sales, but with a Hemi under the hood and and an incredible design, this is one Challenger ready for a fight.