Preview: 2018 Dodge Challenger SRT Demon

NEW YORK – Last night Mark Sinclair and Cameron Thomaz (aka Vin Diesel and Wiz Khalifa) welcomed over 500 car nerds into The Brotherhood of Muscle in an immense hangar on New York City’s Hudson River. The event was an appropriately over-the-top introduction of an over-the-top new automobile, the 2018 Dodge Challenger SRT Demon, a monster so riddled with power, it’s eviscerating and bleeding thesauruses around the world this morning.

A monster so riddled with power, it’s eviscerating and bleeding thesauruses around the world this morning.

The presentation was essentially PowerPoint on steroids. The hangar needed to be vast for the Demon to drag impressively through the space without killing several overexcited fans once launched from a dense metal crate, like those used to futilely cage raptors in Jurassic Park.

Between the smoke bombs, searchlights and rhetoric, here are a few heart-stopping stats and claims.

Dodge says the Demon is the “world’s fastest 0–60 (mph) production vehicle” and “first production car with front wheel lift.” So like a drag racer, its front wheels rise, tilting weight onto back wheels to aid traction and lessen the likelihood of wasting energy in spinning wheels. With the front wheels off the ground, that’s an extra 2,576 pounds.

So, yes, it pops wheelies. Record-setting ones. In fact it achieved the Guinness World Record for “longest wheelie from a standing start in a production car”: 0.89m (2.92 ft).

The Demon also produced the world’s fastest quarter-mile time ever by a production car. In November 2016 it was tested by the NHRA, which certified the Demon achieved the quarter-mile in 9.65 seconds, clocking out at a speed of 140.09 mph (225.45 km/h). However, in a letter that Dodge was delighted to share, the NHRA said the Demon “exceeds our limits of 9.99 second and 135 miles per hour.” In other words, the NHRA banned it.

The Demon boasts the greatest horsepower production ever from an eight-cylinder engine: 840, a number so large it needs context. That’s almost 1,000% heartier than the Smart Fortwo I reviewed two days ago, which pushes out 89 hp. From launch, at 13.5 mph (21.7 km/h), the Demon reaches its peak acceleration of 1.8g, at just a half second into its run and which, not coincidentally, is the greatest g-force acceleration of any production car.

Mind, what good is horsepower without beloved torque? The Demon was designed to maximize its powerful potential. Its new TransBrake system grips the automatic transmission’s output shaft. So the driver no longer needs to launch with one foot on the brake and the other on the accelerator.

Between the TransBrake feature and the torque reserve system, the Demon produced an 8.3 psi shot in the arm and spawned an extra 317 lb-ft of torque at the same test in November – for a total 534 lb-ft of torque. Houston, we have achieved lift-off.

Dodge was keen to share a few more firsts and BIGGESTS for factory production cars. Like first ever to run on high-octane fuel. First with the aforementioned torque reserve on demand. First with “drag mode launch assist”. Largest air induction system.

And largest “functional” hood scoop opening. The Demon’s A/C system diverts cold air towards the incoming air, cooling the unspeakably hot engine.

Vin Diesel drove the Demon in the new Fate of the Furious, the eighth instalment in this ridiculously successful cartoon car nerd fantasy series. Despite all the impressive numbers, Dodge didn’t reveal how much it cost to get Vin Diesel to speak for five minute and include the phrase “Welcome to the Brotherhood of Muscle” in that speech – but they did give Wiz Khalifa a Hellcat to thank him for DJing the event after.

The Hellcat was there too, in a striking silver colour it hulked, now the middle-child of the Challenger line-up with only 707 hp. 

But before Mr. Diesel appeared to paroxysms of fanboy joy, we were subjected to 40 minutes of rhetoric from assorted marketers and sponsors – all between smoke bombs, fireworks and pounding clips of heavy metal. It was quite enervating.

The showed us a new Pennzoil commercial (“It’s a film!”). They showed it to us twice. But why not? The Fast and Furious films are little more than two-hour marketing vehicles themselves. They wanted you to know that the Pennzoil commercial is available on all your favourite social platforms today, presumably along with trillions of other “films”.

One the most impressive claims Dodge made was that the Demon is “the industry’s first and only purpose-built, street-legal, production drag car.” Which leads to the question, why build something like this?

To which they responded: “Why not build a Demon?”

Well, it’s out there now.

Wheelies and breathless hyperbole 4/12/2017 8:30:00 AM