We’ve always dreamt about driving a very powerful car on regular city streets and showing off to our friends when we were kids. As we grew older, reality sunk in and found out that high horsepower cars were extremely expensive. But in 2021, you can actually drive an 800 hp sedan at a relatively low price. So what is it actually like to drive the 800 hp 2021 Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat Redeye Widebody on regular city streets?
Engine – The behemoth that lies under the matte black hood of the 2021 Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat Redeye Widebody is a 6.2L supercharged V8. It produces 797 hp and 707 lb-ft of torque (594 kW / 958 Nm). Essentially, this is a drag racing engine stuffed into the body of a car that your dad goes to work with everyday. It’s as subtle as an aircraft carrier. The engine overwhelms all other senses in the car. It always makes noise with the sound of distant thunder at low rpms to a loud roar at higher rpms from the back and a wailing banshee from the supercharger in the front. The power delivery is brutal with the rear tires spinning through not only 1st and 2nd gears but 3rd and 4th as well, especially in the cold, damp, late Fall days that I had it on demo. You have to stay alert at all times when accelerating with this car because the engine is too much for the chassis to handle on normal city streets. Having said that, under the most ideal conditions on a race track, the Charger Hellcat Redeye can hit 100 km/h in 3.6 seconds with a quarter mile time of around 11.3 seconds with the help of Launch Control.
But if 800 hp is too much for you, the engine’s power output can be turned down to “just” 500 hp (372 kW). In the lower power output, the engine’s power delivery is more gradual. You can accelerate with a bit more throttle application and the tires won’t lose grip in the higher gears. To my surprise, there’s even an “Eco” mode, though I’m not too sure how much more economical it actually makes this beast of an engine.
Officially, the Charger Hellcat Redeye is rated for 11.5 L/100km (20.5 MPG) on a highway and… are you ready for it?… 19 L/100km (12.4 MPG) in a city. Thankfully during my time with the car, I drove it primarily on highways and roads with few stop lights. As a result, my average fuel economy figure was a reasonable 16.5 L/100km (14.2 MPG).
Transmission – The beast of an engine is mated to an 8-speed automatic transmission. In everyday driving situations, it likes to keep the engine’s rpms as low as possible to return somewhat decent fuel economy numbers. Thankfully, even when the engine is spinning at 1,200 rpms, it doesn’t produce many vibrations through the chassis like the Ford Ranger. The shifts between gears are relatively smooth but at times you will feel the odd downshift or two.
When you pick up the pace or switch the transmission to Track mode, the shifts are much more noticeable and a bit faster. The 8-speed doesn’t change gears quite as quickly as a dual-clutch transmission but it’s plenty fast for track use.
Braking – The Charger Hellcat uses 15.4-inch rotors on the front axle to provide the majority of the braking force. They are of a two piece design and get clamped down by 6-piston Brembo calipers. The rear axle uses 4-piston Brembo calipers. Brake pedal modulation is surprisingly easy for street use. The brakes don’t feel too “grabby” when initially applying your foot on the brake pedal and can easily be controlled for a smooth stop.
Handling – In a car that is available with a sub-300 hp V6 all the way up to the monster V8 in this demo vehicle, the chassis is overwhelmed by the power. Every time you apply a moderate amount of pressure to the throttle pedal, the engine immediately spins up the rear wheels and the back end of the car wants to go sideways. Traction and stability control was working overtime when I drove it during the cold and rainy week that I had it. Although the rear tires are 305 in section width, they are high performance summer tires which don’t really work in cold temperatures. So unfortunately I was not able to ever use full throttle with all 797 hp.
When detuned to the 500 hp mode, the chassis could cope with the power. The back end was not sliding all over the road and the car would actually go forward. It was much more enjoyable to drive and I could actually relax a bit.
Around corners, the steering is sharp and direct but somewhat devoid of feel and feedback. Changing it from the Street mode to the Track mode just made it artificially heavier. The Hellcat Redye benefits from the widebody treatment with the front and rear tracks being 65.6” and 65.3” respectively. A standard Charger is 64” and 63.7” respectively. One issue that I did notice with this car when driving on city streets is that it really likes to follow the crown of the road. This could get tiring on longer trips.
Ride Comfort – Of course the ride in the 2021 Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat Redeye Widebody is stiffer than a normal Charger – even a Scat Pack Charger – but in the Street drive mode, it is more than bearable on city streets. You’ll definitely want to avoid the bigger potholes for a better ride and to prevent damaging the 20-inch wheels but for what this car is, the adaptive dampers do a great job of isolating the road bumps.
Interior Space – The front seats provide an ample amount of space and comfort. The seat cushions are supportive but not too hard as to induce a numb butt on longer drives. The side bolsters are a tad on the small side but can accommodate a wider range of body types than other performance seats. The center of the seats are covered in a suede material to prevent you from sliding through corners in the seat.
The rear seats have more legroom on paper than the BMW M5 and Mercedes-Benz E63. However in reality, my legs still feel squished behind my driving position. More average sized adults should have a bit more legroom. But headroom is an issue with my head basically resting up against the back window when sitting upright.
Behind the seats, the Dodge Charger Hellcat Redye has 467 L (16.5 cu-ft) of cargo space. The rear seats can fold for more cargo capacity.
Noise, Vibration, & Harshness – If you’re gentle with the throttle pedal and you find yourself on a highway, most of the sound intruding into the cabin will be road noise from the tires. But that noise can very quickly change depending on what your right foot does.
Odds and Ends
Pricing – Although the base Dodge Charger starts at a reasonable $39,765 CAD ($31,125 USD), this Charger Hellcat Redeye is a lot more expensive. It starts at $105,515 CAD ($81,825 USD). Pack on the options and the price climbs closer to $125,000 CAD ($95,000 USD). Expensive for a Charger but quite a lot less than the German rivals.
Gadgets – Unlike other cars in this price bracket, the Charger Hellcat just has the usual luxury features and nothing that really stands out. This particular demo vehicle had leather & alcantara seat upholstery, satellite navigation, heated & ventilated front seats, heated steering wheel, heated rear seats, blind spot sensors, backup camera, parking sensors, automatic climate control, remote start, and that’s about it. It is not available with more premium features like surround view cameras, head-up display, wireless phone charging or even advanced driver and safety aids such as automatic emergency braking, adaptive cruise control and lane keep.
The infotainment system is Uconnect4 so it does allow for Apple CarPlay & Android Auto connectivity but not wireless connectivity. It works just fine and it’s easy to navigate around the menus. The SRT Hellcat has SRT pages built into the system which allows for adjustments to the powertrain, the launch control system, line lock, and can display vehicle statistics such as engine parameters as well as quarter mile times, 0-100 km/h times, and lap times.
Interior Design – For a unique and special Dodge Charger, the interior of this Hellcat Redeye doesn’t really let you know that you’re in a very special 6-figure car. There are HellcatRedeye badges on the dashboard and on the seats but that’s it. The SRT badge on the steering wheel glows red at night which is cool but the rest of the interior looks the same as the one in the base Dodge Charger. Not to mention, the materials are pretty much identical with the exception being the alcantara/leather seats and the alcantara covered steering wheel.
Exterior Design – Just like the interior, the exterior doesn’t really let onlookers know that this is a unique and 800 hp “supercar”. Only those with a keen eye will notice the real hood vents, the wider fenders and the massive brakes. Having said that, the current Dodge Charger is a good looking car overall.
Warranty – With such a powerful engine under the hood, the warranty of the Charger Hellcat Redeye is identical to all other models of the Charger. You’ll get a 3 year / 60,000 km basic and 5 year / 100,000 km powertrain warranty. For more information on Canadian warranty, click here. For USA warranty information, click here.
Conclusion – In the end, the 2021 Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat Redeye Widebody is not the best performing car on the market, it doesn’t have the nicest interior for the price, and it’s too much car for city streets. But this car will always put a smile on your face, it will always get your heart pumping faster, and it’s a giant middle finger to the environment and Government regulations. It’s as daft as owning a pet tiger but Netflix has shown us that some people do that and that’s why I like it. It’s silly, it’ll try to kill you, but it will always excite your primal instincts.
Unfortunately, it’s time is limited as Dodge recently announced that come 2024, it will no longer be sold. Dodge will instead be replacing it with an eMuscle car. I’m sure that an electric Charger will be just as fast, or faster, but it won’t have the same noise and character that this beast of an engine provides. So get ‘em while you still can.
Thank you to Dodge Canada for providing the vehicle. www.Dodge.ca