Horsepower Hill at Club Motorsports is a 14-percent grade at the scenic road course carved into the side of a mountain in Tamworth, New Hampshire. It’s a heartbreak climb uphill for most cars, but it’s child’s play for the 2019 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat Redeye. One big number makes that possible: 797.
It is an easy run for this motor from the dark beyond as it pushes me back into the super-size me sport seat while a red-eyed Hellcat logo embroidered into the flat seatback stares a hole into the back of my helmet. These seats are the antithesis of the tight Recaros you’ll find in a Ford Mustang. While those seats pinch wider backsides, these leave room for American builds. kinny folks will slide side to side during aggressive cornering.
The engine growls with the fury of a NASCAR stocker while its supercharger whines and whistles like a jet upon takeoff during the climb. This is the Demon engine with 7 fewer horses than that car had on pump gas, and the supercharger is the largest ever installed on a factory engine. Compared to the regular Hellcat, it spins up 2.7 liters of air for every revolution instead of 2.4 liters and creates 14.5 psi of boost versus 11.6. Dodge adds a second dual-stage fuel pump to dump fuel into the cylinders because when you pack an engine with air it also needs more fuel. The result is an astonishing 797 horsepower and 707 pound-feet of torque.
Up front, the V-8 breathes through a new dual-snorkel hood, gathering in more air the faster I can push the car. The hood seals to an airbox below it, provides a ram-air effect, and lowers the air intake temperature by 4 degrees. That hood is also responsible for the 7 horsepower drop versus the Demon. It lets in lots of air, but it’s slightly more restrictive than the Demon’s hood. The reason? The Redeye can go 203 mph, while the Demon topped out at 168 mph, and Dodge had to restrict the airflow because the larger intakes on the Demon’s hood would have created lift at the Redeye’s higher top speed.
The airbox takes air from two other sources as I wind my way around this scenic track. The familiar “Air Catcher” headlamp from other SRTs, essentially a hole where a second headlight would be on the driver’s side, is one source, and an inlet near the wheel liner is the other. Together, these sources bring in 18 percent more air than last year’s 707-horsepower Hellcat.
Tailored to taste
I’m running in the Custom mode, with the transmission, suspension, and steering in the Track settings, but the traction/stability control in the Street setting.
Track bangs the shifts hard, both up and down. On occasion, the shifts are too abrupt for a road course, as they upset the balance of the car as I approach a turn. I voice my concern about the hard shifts to Eric Heuschele, vehicle dynamics manager for SRT, and he tells me, “You might want to set up your Custom mode to be Track, Track, Track, and your trans in Sport.”
Sure enough, the shifts may come quicker in Track, but I prefer the smoother shifts of Sport for this track, and it holds the gears plenty long enough to provide lots of power out of corners. The Track setting is better for drag racing where hard shifts won’t affect balance.