Pushing the 797-HP SRT Hellcat Redeye to the Redline
Wheel Spin at 60 mph. Smoke Screen Take Offs. Is the Redeye As Wild to Control as They Say? I Risk My Insurance Rate to Find Out.
The Red Key to Paradise
Dodge handed me the red key to a Frostbite blue 2021 Charger SRT Hellcat Redeye eariler in the summer. The contract signed stated I would behave, but the delivery driver gave me a wink and suggested I find a place to test out its SRT drive modes. With 797-horsepower on tap, how could I resist? Thankfully, one doesn't have to travel far in the state of Texas to find a place to run.
Flat-Out Charge to Vanishing Point
On an undisclosed (totally private) empty road, I indulged in the 2021 Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat Redeye temptations . Before this, everyone around me had given me warnings of concern to be careful with this car. Their reason for concern was understandable, considering the numerous pages of YouTube videos and stories of Hellcat drivers running out of talent before third gear and wrapping their Hemi around anything and everything. After the sixth friend, family, or professional colleague tells you to watch out, it starts to get in your head.
This road was four lanes of virgin highway that went nowhere. Arrow straight that allowed you to see the vanishing point where tarmac met the sky. Feeling like a test pilot, I gave the seat belt two firm tugs to confirm it was tight before going to the U-Connect screen and switching the SRT Redeye to Track Mode. This meant the traction control would be switched off, the suspension set to James-May-Backpain firmness, and the full 797-hp. (Normal and Eco mode provides 500-hp).
The entire time the Charger SRT Hellcat Redeye idled steady with burbling confidence that made you feel strong. Foot on the brake, I gave the throttle a firm squeeze to feel the car buck in protest like a bull in the box, ready to toss a cowboy off its back in under eight seconds. Ready, set, go - and kicked the gas pedal like I was trying to kick-start a vintage Harley-Davison.
Art done by Jesus Garcia - Auto Toonz
I didn't bother with launch control the same way I don't use bumper-guards when I go bowling. The 2021 Charger SRT Hellcat Redeye reacted like a nuclear explosion. You get thrown back in your seat as that car pounces forward in full attack mode. Don't bother looking at your mirrors – anything to see has vanished in a white fog of tire smoke. Focus on the task at hand. You reach 40 mph and feel the rear wheels are still fighting for traction. You don't lift off the throttle but can feel the car wanting to get loose. A
gear change later, and you find yourself at the critical point where people often lose control. Keep your cool, and don't panic. Do not let off, and damn the brakes. Ease off the gas gently, and adjust the steering just enough to keep it from getting entirely sideways. Have no fear. The dashboard flashes its Stability Control icon as a reassuring sign that you are not alone.
Dodge's stability control system works wonders in helping you keep a firm grip on the Hellcat's leash. However, everything has a limit, and if you go beyond the limit, it can only do so much before you over-correct or panic-brake past the point of no return.
Past 60 mph, the car regained traction and juiced the throttle back to full power. The Charger SRT Redeye responded and rocketed forward. Each gear change felt like entering warp-speed as the eyes rattle inside the skull—the supercharger whines as a town crier, telling the world around it to moooooooooovvveeeeeeeee. Past the 150 mph mark, the Redeye will catch a second wind prompting you to decide whether you want to keep going or not.
After a successful run, it's impossible not to feel like a driving god. Because you managed to control a nearly 800-hp, rear-wheel-drive muscle car, it's like finding out you can pick up Thor's hammer. But beware, don't get overly confident, because like owning a tiger as a pet – it doesn't matter how much you love it, a tiger will never stop being wild.
Artwork by Jesus Garcia - Auto Toonz
The modern SRT Hellcat Redeye manages to capture the old school feel of 1971-era muscle cars. It has the idle, and will break traction at 40 mph with the TC turned off (becareful). After the test was over it was a struggle handing the red key back - I wanted to keep it. Spend a lifetime, and a whole bunch of premium octane fuel, chasing horizions forever.
A Second Ending of the Muscle Car
Throughout my reasonably young life, muscle cars have been under constant threat of extinction. Reading, and watching, experts predict that “this year” will be “the end of the V8”, only to see headlines of a new supercharged V8 a month later. At this point, it no longer matters when the end will be. Just enjoy the fact that they, and we, are still here to enjoy them. Eventually, this second muscle car era will end for the same reasons the first one did, as history holds a mirror to itself.
Artwork by Jesus Garcia - Auto Toonz
Maybe the “muscle car” will live on as a marketing term in the future to introduce 1,200-hp electric, twin-turbo, nuclear-fusion powered sports cars wearing a familiar nameplate. But all the instant torque and nano-second 0 to 60 times of the future will never match the sensation of fireballs inside a cast-iron heart. It will be challenging to recreate the feel and allure of the controlled chaos inside a gas-burning engine and capture the subtle vibrations of eight cylinders thumping away in precise rhythm. You can replace sugar with sodium and call it diet soda, but it will never match the same sinful (I know it’s bad for me, but I want it away) delicious taste of a classic coke.
Photo by Jesus Garcia
If you like the artwork featured in this article, see more on Instragram @auto.toonz. I also do commissions if you'd like a custom artpiece of your ride or bike.