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2015 Challenger Hellcat brings the horsepower

The 2015 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat uses a

The 2015 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat uses a supercharger to force-feed air into a 6.2-liter V-8 engine for an estimated 600-plus horsepower. Credit: Dodge

The most powerful V-8 in Dodge's history is slapped between the fenders of the new 2015 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat, which uses a supercharger to force-feed air into a 6.2-liter V-8 for an estimated 600-plus horsepower. The stout V-8 is an optional engine on the redesigned 2015 Challenger SRT that, like other 2015 Challengers, shows off an all-new interior favoring an upscale, modern design over the previous year's retro look.

Base Challenger SRT buyers now have 485 hp, up from 470 hp, and a newly available eight-speed automatic transmission replaces the five-speed automatic. Back to the Hellcat— it's available with the eight-speed automatic transmission or a six-speed manual with nostalgic shifter-ball knob. Hellcat production is expected to begin in the third quarter of 2014.

More than 600 horsepower can't be trusted with just anyone, so a red key fob uncorks the Hellcat engine's full potential, while a second black key fob limit's engine output. Still not trusting? Valet mode is accessible via a PIN code that limits engine speed to 4,000 rpm, forces stability control into full-on mode and disables the performance launch control feature, among many other limiters.

The SRT Hellcat offers more than a honkin' engine; other notable equipment includes what Dodge says is the largest front-brake package offered on an SRT vehicle: 15.4-inch Brembo-brand rotors with six-piston calipers. The brakes are also available on the non-Hellcat SRT in a Track Pack. The Viper's front brake rotors are 14.0 inches even in track-ready TA trim, but of course the Viper has a lot less weight to carry around considering the Challenger Hellcat weighs in at an estimated and somewhat porky 4,449 pounds with the manual transmission, and 4,439 with the automatic.

By comparison, a 2014 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 coupe with the 580-hp, supercharged V-8 and manual transmission weighs 4,120 pounds, 4,149 with automatic. A 662-hp, supercharged V-8, manual-transmission-only Ford Mustang GT 500 coupe is 3,850 pounds.

Managing the driving characteristics of the SRT are all-new drive Sport, Track and Default modes that alter horsepower, transmission shifting, steering feel, paddle shifters and traction and suspension calibrations; there's also a Custom setting that allows you to mix components of all three modes. Hellcat-specific interior appointments include an aluminum-stamped center console in a Dark Engine Turn finish. Rounding out the interior additions on all SRT trims are redesigned seats with Napa leather and Alcantara suede-like material for improved cushioning; Laguna premium leather upholstery is also available. The front seats have standard heating and ventilation functions.

The Hellcat's exterior is distinguished with Supercharged badges, an aluminum hood with scoop and heat extractors, black sills and a larger front splitter for optimized downforce. The Hellcat's 20-inch forged-aluminum wheels add to an overall menacing appearance with the 2015's new body work. They wear a matte-black finish that's also available in the SRT with Track Pack; a dark bronze finish is optional. Covering those wheels are 275/40ZR20 all-season Pirelli tires front and rear, while summer tires are available.

Production is scheduled to begin in the third quarter of 2014; Pricing has not yet been announced.

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