The 2015 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat is a 707-horsepower fire-breathing heavy metal muscle-machine monster.
Or so I've been told.
I only know that it looks sharp in soul-crushing traffic.
You see, there I was, itching to put my newly acquired $70,385 scarlet-red supercharged 6.2-litre HEMI V-8 tester through its paces with an 86-kilometre drive from downtown Toronto to home base in Clarington, Ont. Instead, I was snookered by heavier-than-usual rush-hour traffic.
Vehicles clogged the Don Valley Parkway from top to bottom, jammed together like slow-moving salmon desperate to spawn upstream. Not once did I get the opportunity to shift into any gear higher than second and, dammit, the Hellcat's clutch is bloody heavy. For more than an hour, it was depress, shift, release – lather, rinse, repeat – 200 times or more. My left leg suffered through an exhausting workout.
Going stir crazy, I couldn't help but notice that the Hellcat's speedometer topped out at 340 km/h.
At least I had the 18-speaker Harman Kardon premium sound system to soothe my frustrated soul – and drown out the rambunctious roar of the exhaust. I cranked up the volume and sat back as the thundering thump-thump-thump of the bass rumbled through the car's interior. Three Classic Rock tunes later, on came Meat Loaf's All Revved Up With No Place To Go.
I hit the off switch.
Chagrined, I pressed a button on the centre-stack marked SRT. Up came some nifty graphics of the car's chassis on the 8.4-inch Uconnect infotainment screen, offering me the opportunity to switch to Sport or Track mode. Track mode? Seriously …?
On the bright side, the driver's seat was spectacularly comfortable. Heated, ventilated, and capable of seemingly endless power adjustments, the leather seat was well padded and unusually wide. This has to be about demographics: All those former scrawny 17-year-olds who back in the day pined for a muscle car – but couldn't afford one – today are older wealthier guys who are more fat ass than bad ass. Muscle is magnificent, but comfort is king.
Inching east onto Highway 401 from the DVP, there were brief spurts when I actually accelerated to 50 km/h. This is how it was through Scarborough, into Pickering, Ajax, Whitby and Oshawa. Not once did the speedometer climb above 70 km/h and, it wasn't until I passed Courtice – another hour later and still in fairly heavy traffic – that I was able to achieve legal highway speeds of 100 km/h.
Past Bowmanville, the road cleared as I neared the Highway 35/115 exit and the end of my journey. Here, finally, was my chance to put the pedal to the metal and unleash the beast. Ahead, I spotted an Ontario Provincial Police cruiser nesting on the shoulder of the road.
Drat. Or words to that effect.
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