2015 Dodge Challenger R/T Scat Pack Review

Challenging the Hellcat for a lot Less Scratch

Chrysler essentially dropped the mic when it introduced Hellcat versions of the Challenger coupe and Charger sedan. The supercharged 707-hp Hemi found under the hoods of these models sucked all the air out of the room, leaving press, enthusiasts and most importantly the competition gasping for breath.

These cars are a full serving of insanity. They’re crazier than snorting Oreo dust or jumping on a waterbed while wearing high heels. Given their performance capability, they tend to steal much of the limelight. However, there’s more to the Challenger lineup than just the Hellcat. You can get a certifiably fast version of this car without a mechanical atmosphere multiplier.

Hemi Horsepower

The R/T Scat Pack version features a 6.4-liter V8 that produces its goods the old fashioned way, with lots of cubic inches (392 if you’re counting). This naturally aspirated two-by-four delivers 485 hp and nearly as much torque, which tops out at 475 lb-ft at 4,200 RPM. Not bad for an old-school, pushrod engine with a cast-iron block and just two valves per cylinder.

Flexing its displacement advantage, these figures eclipse the standard Challenger R/T model’s 5.7-liter V8 by a whopping 113 horses and 65 lb-ft of twist.

Helping deliver those figures is a relatively high compression ratio of 10.9:1, something that regrettably necessitates premium fuel. Additionally this engine has sodium-filled exhaust valves to help keep things cool; its intake valves are hollow, ostensibly for reduced mass.

This Hemi is old fashioned in all the right ways, but just because it’s more traditional than stores closing on Sundays doesn’t mean it’ll shake the teeth out of your skull like some race-prepared muscle car engine. It feels every bit as refined modern overhead-cam V8s — smooth, torque rich and even willing to rev. But perhaps best of all are the noises it makes; they’re absolutely stunning. The rumble piped out of its dual exhaust tips transports you straight back to the 1960s.

Gearing Up

Helping this husky Hemi make the most of its prodigious output are two different transmissions. Customers that like to dance the three-pedal boogie can treat themselves to a rugged six-speed manual gearbox. The Tremec TR-6060 is about as robust as a granite obelisk. This unit is standard issue in many high-performance cars like the C6 Chevrolet Corvette, Dodge Viper and even the Cadillac CTS-V, so it should be more than tough enough to withstand the Scat Pack’s torque.

If you’d prefer an automatic transmission Dodge is happy to oblige. A superb ZF eight-speed automatic is available as well. Called the “Torqueflight 845RE” in Chrysler parlance this unit is smooth, responsive and eager to serve up the ideal ratio at a moment’s notice.

This self-shifting transmission also helps reduce fuel consumption. According to the U.S. EPA Challenger R/T Scat Packs that are so equipped sticker at 15 MPG city and 25 on the highway. Combined they should average 18 MPG.

More Style Per Mile

Scat Pack-equipped Challengers are dressed for action, whether it’s on the street or strip. They ride on meatier tires, feature beefy Brembo four-piston front brake calipers and to ensure everybody knows they mean business these cars are also equipped with an eclectically controlled exhaust system that snarls when you want it to and minds its manners when you’re not romping around.

The driver and passengers are treated to some welcome interior upgrades; in fact the whole Challenger line was enhanced for 2015 with a much more premium cabin. The materials are better, the design more striking and there’s even more available technology; build quality is impressive as well. Underscoring the Scat Pack’s performance is a speedometer that reaches all the way to 180 MPH.

For even more style there’s an optional appearance package. For $1,995 you get things like special bumble bee stripes, a glossy black grille surround and unique forged wheels that measure 20-by-9. Inside, customers are treated to embroidered high-performance seats, premium floor mats, a unique steering wheel and more.

Drivers who want it all can shell out an additional $995 for an available technology package. This includes forward collision warning, automatic high beams, rain-sensing wipers and even adaptive cruise control. Curiously this last item is not available in models that are equipped with a manual transmission, ditto for collision warning.

The Drive

The Challenger R/T Scat Pack is a lot of fun to drive and it’s not just because of the noises it makes. This car is seriously fast. In fact Chrysler claims it will blast to 60 miles an hour in the mid-four-second range. It’s also capable of digesting a quarter mile in the low 12s.

Clearly this car delivers enough performance to tickle the fancy of just about any enthusiast even if it cowers in the Hellcat’s shadow. It runs like a scalded cat, pushing you deeply into the seatback when you bury the accelerator.

Unfortunately I evaluated this vehicle in dead of winter, which is the worst possible time to test a mega-power, rear-wheel-drive muscle car. Its Goodyear Eagle RS-A tires are pretty sporty for all-season rubber and accordingly they did not like cold temperatures or sloppy snow. Even on dry road surfaces they clawed for traction and things were more than a little dicey while slogging through accumulated powder. In ten-degree weather it could break the rear tires loose on dry pavement at 70 MPH. Remind me again why you would ever need 707 hp?

The steering is adjustable and feels nice and heavy in the most aggressive setting. Overall this car’s suspension is quite stiff, something that gives it a busy ride on Michigan’s ruinous highways but the trade off is flat handling when negotiating curves.

The eight-speed automatic is very well mannered, providing smooth shifts and an ample number of ratios in its stack. However, with so many gears the paddle shifters are pretty useless. If you want to downshift for more power you’ve got to click the lever three, four, five times and then wait for the powertrain to respond. It only shifts sequentially, dropping one … gear … at … a … time. This sluggishness takes almost all the fun out of using the paddles.

Enthusiasts often gripe about the Challenger being too big and heavy compared to the Chevy Camaro and Ford Mustang. These complaints are valid, but the car drives just fine on the street. Sure, you’d want something smaller and lighter if you raced every weekend but barely anyone does that.

Dimensional differences also give it some important advantages over those classic rivals. First of all it has a useable back seat; life-sized adults can actually fit. It also has an impressively spacious trunk, even though the lift-over height is quite elevated.

One other thing to consider is outward visibility. The Camaro is like driving around with a paper bag on your head, you can’t see anything! Sightlines from the Challenger’s cockpit are pretty good, though the C-pillars do block a lot of rearward visibility.

The Verdict:

The 2015 Dodge Challenger R/T Scat Pack is a lot of car. It’s big both inside and out, powerful, fast and great to look at. It’s like driving a 1960s muscle machine but without any of the downsides. It handles well, scoots when you punch the accelerator and makes all the right noises. It delivers the majority of a Hellcat’s performance for a lot less money.

The base price for one of these cars is 39 grand and change, though the model we evaluated cost $47,360 including delivery fees ($995). The sticker was inflated by things like a power sunroof ($1,195), leather interior trimmings ($1,500), the Scat Pack appearance package ($1,995) and a handful of other options. Still, this car is a pretty impressive value, especially when you consider that the Hellcat starts at 60 large.

Discuss this story on our Dodge Challenger Forum.

  • ScruffeOne

    I visited a Scat Pack at my local dealership this past weekend and I love this car. it’s just beautiful and so well appointed. I want one, but am holding out for the SHAKER edition. I have been checking the dodge.com site every day and it’s been really frustrating that they advertise this beautiful thing, but won’t allow you to build one. Comon man!

  • Auto Motive

    Sluggish paddle shifters??? If a 2012 392 Challenger my daughter owns is any measure of the new tranny it works seamlessly and shifts are right on.

  • JBsC6

    Always enjoy your reviews Craig cole! Thanks for all your excellent efforts at autoguide.

  • Ramon An Shakira Hilton Perry

    slug*gish o slow as a lazy car but working slug g is have lost mind lacking pedal and ?not car engine ? not lazy nor lacking ? so octain cheap fuel 103 racing mave note out buget broke see superchargeers are $/$/$/ lack ? well motion as said sad as one lacking ?$

  • Fast Freddy

    With only 300 miles on my Black Scat Pack 8 speed “so I am babying it”, a mustang pulled up with windows open, he revved it, so I having had a six speed manual R/T thought I would tap the throttle and bump ahead of him a little bit until he came back inline and then he would have his chance to show off his horespower, but..to my amazement, the Scat Pack dropped down 2 gears, let out a screeching wheel chirp, lerched up “did not have sport mode enabled” about 3 inches high and jumped a full car length on the ‘stang, none the less he pulled back alongside, punched it and viola..nothing but exhaust and embarrasment for him. I used to own nothing but ‘stangs…never again for me, the Scat Packs now rule both ride and showmanship alongside the tiny mustang cockpit, and my dates love it too!