Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat XR by AEC - One Made To Go Straight
By Marc Rutten
The World of cars is rapidly changing and moving in a direction that many petrolheads, or shall we say gearheads aren't exactly cheering about. The European market is facing a large number of issues that will have an impact on the fun factor of many sports cars currently on the market. Those changes will affect the whole automotive World in the years to come. Lower emissions, lower noise levels and less features that allow you to stand out among the fast array of vehicles we adore so dearly. Located in the heart of all these transitions is a Munich-based company called AEC. As an authorised Dodge & RAM importer in Europe, which has its company headquartered in Canada, the people at AEC offered me and Instagram content creator, Gercollector the chance to experience the full force of their latest creation; the 2019 Dodge Challenger Hellcat XR.
Based on the mental, 727hp Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat wide body model, the new XR offers a wide range of upgrades, which have been added to the American muscle car and homologated for the European market. Limited to only 50 units, the Germans set out to unlock the Hellcat‘s full potential, by allowing customers to push the limits of the XR on roads, drag strips and race tracks. Without spoiling the ending of this review piece, people knowledgeable of the basic Hellcat package may be able to guess the outcome of this story.
Before we touch on the absolute ridiculous package, let's touch on the Hellcat XR's highlight features and upgrades. First of all, the performance side of things. Under the new carbon bonnet, you will find a competition tuned 6.2 litre Supercharged SRT HEMI V8, featuring a 2.4 litre twin-screw supercharger, with a uprated performance pulley and a smaller drive ratio, spinning it well past its factory rpm. Combined with an aptly reprogrammed ECU, the package cranks out 161 more Hp and an extra 110Nm of torque. The 888 peak Hp and 999Nm are transferred to the rear wheels via the Challenger XR’s ZF 8-speed automatic transmission which has also received an optimised set-up to handle the additional power. The top speed limiter was moved to 320km/h allowing it to blast across the Autobahn with great ease, which due to traffic we were unable to reach. Getting up to 270km/h was already a feast to behold.
While gliding into the Hellcat XR’s black Laguna bucket seats, the performance delivery of this angry beast can best be described as utter mental. Accompanied by a new valve controlled exhaust system, producing a raspy and throaty sound track when open, and its unmistakable devilish supercharger whine, the Hellcat XR is a vehicle in a category of its own. As evidenced by the Hellcat's immense willingness to constantly smoke its rear tires any time the traction control is off, this muscle car has clearly more power than it has grip. If you tone down the performance slightly and opt for the sport mode, the traction and stability control systems will let you slide enough to make you howl with laughter but not enough to end up seriously injured.
The sheer ability of this machine to put a smile on your face is nothing new for people who are familiar with this machine, the additional performance however provides you with an inner feeling of being able to conquer the world. This battleship is a tool to move quickly from A to B providing a constant symphony of screeching, bellowing and whining noises coming from the power train. Combined with the squealing of its tires and the plumes of smoke entering the cabin, it feels like every single time you put your foot down you are presented with an all-American opera. Oh my, this is exactly why we love cars! Just don't look at the fuel gauge and budget for the terrible fuel economy.
Characterised by its angry cat badges on each side, the Hellcat XR is also outfitted with performance tuned suspension, uprated Brembo brakes and Pirelli tires sizing 305/35ZR20 all around. The optional suspension kit offers a set of coil-overs, which are independently adjustable for all four wheels. You can set the Challenger XR’s ride height, weight distribution and stiffness to your personal preference. Although these enhance the setup of the XR considerably, the mastodon never feels like as sporty as a Porsche 911 capable of attacking corners with great confidence. Its weight of over 2000kg doesn't help at all when you aim at attacking swooping mountain roads and setting fast lap times. It is simply too much heft to throw around in the corners.
Like true muscle cars of the 60s, the Hellcat XR can be a touch unpredictable on twisty roads and feels as if it was only ever built for straight-line speed. The Challenger XR’s sheer characteristic is to deliver straight line performance and immense levels of fun every single day of the week. Of course, there is a certain level of comfort available. In the end, it is a big comfy American car. Trickle down the performance modes opting for street mode will allow you to focus on experiencing the infotainment system with its 8.4-inch touchscreen and 18-speaker Harman Kardon sound system. Heated & ventilated front seats, a heated steering wheel, a rear-facing camera, plus parking sensors and remote start are part of the standard package.
When parked, its flared fenders and angry nostrils project aggression and insanity like nothing else. It will let you notice the exterior upgrades. Let me run you through each of them. The car has custom hood pins, which tack down the carbon fibre performance hood that provides sufficient air flow to the modified supercharger raging inside. Additional uplift caused by the sinister centre air scoop is counteracted by a full size carbon fibre performance front splitter. At the rear, you will notice the custom rear spoiler and diffuser producing the downforce that you need to burn the HEMI’s power on the road track when you hit the throttle. A light weight carbon fibre trunk lid and side rockers complete the Hellcat XR carbon fibre package.
Competition tuned 6.2 litre Supercharged SRT HEMI V8 featuring a 2.4 litre twin-screw supercharger with a uprated performance pulley and a smaller drive ratio
There we have it! The new Hellcat XR, a muscle car in the true essence of its all-American heritage tuned by Germans to enhance the performance capability and make it more likeable for the European market. The monster muscle car got a decent interior, great seats and more than enough space for people and cargo, but in many ways it feels a bit like a car for "childish adults", who adore the uncomplicated delivery of power through the HEMI power train and just want to smoke anyone anywhere in a straight line.
This Challenger XR isn't fully skewed toward handling or mountain-roads spurists, you have to be a thoroughbred 'high speed cruising' or 'shred the tyres in apocalyptic amounts of smoke' kind of guy to understand and appreciate what is under your right foot. If you are such a person, then the XR is all you would ever need in your European garage... Never ever again will there be another car quite like the Hellcat XR on this side of the Atlantic.
2019 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat XR