MT: 2019 R/T Scat Pack and Hellcat Redeye Review

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MT: 2019 R/T Scat Pack and Hellcat Redeye Review

Post by scottm » Thu Aug 16, 2018 10:53 pm

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2019 Dodge Challenger R/T Scat Pack 392 and Hellcat Redeye Review: Muscle Mass
https://www.motortrend.com/cars/dodge/c ... ve-review/
There's a purity of purpose and a refreshing honesty about the Dodge Challenger that is further enhanced by the features that define these latest model variants. While Chevy put the Camaro on a diet and sharpened its agility with 1LE Nurburgring-tuned handling packages and Ford developed track-rat Performance Packages 1 and 2 for its Mustang and has a Shelby GT500 in the works, Dodge is lowering the lap times of its big, hulking Challenger the Gold's Gym way—by adding even more muscle and making the widest, heaviest pony car wider and heavier.

The new R/T Scat Pack 392 Widebody's regimen worked the muscles that get the car through the turns; the new Hellcat Redeye trained the muscle groups responsible for sprinting between the corners. As we noted in our First Look, the Redeye basically gets a Demon engine breathing through a more restrictive twin-nostril hood. This trims horsepower to 797 at 6,300 rpm and torque to 707 lb-ft at 4,500 rpm. (The Demon's giant-mail-slot hood permitted too much lift at speeds above its 168-mph limiter; Hellcat Redeyes are allowed to probe the safe limits of the tires, so they get a 203-mph limiter.) The Hellcat Redeye Widebody adds much of the Scat Pack Widebody's corner-carving capability.

Yes, these models have trained extensively on handling circuits. No, they are not claiming to outrun a Camaro SS or ZL1 1LE or a Mustang GT Perf Pack 2, Shelby GT350, or a future GT500. Rather, these new Challengers remain unapologetically large and comfy GT cruisers with roomy back seats and spacious trunks. But they are without a doubt the most track-capable Challengers to date, and each is a hoot to hoon around a track. Especially the Scat Pack Widebody.

"This started out as a project to just put the Widebody package on the Scat Pack, but then we thought, 'Why don't we try to go a bit further,'" explains SRT vehicle dynamics chief Erich Heuschele. His team ended up with a completely new spring/damping/roll-stiffness setup. At 359 lb/in, these are the stiffest front springs on any Challenger, up from 313 on the Hellcats and 284 on the base Scat Pack. Its rear springs are shared with the Hellcats. The anti-roll bars are stiffened by increasing their diameters from 32 to 34mm in front and from 19 to 22 in back relative to base Scat Packs. These hollow bars are now the same diameter as the Hellcat's solid ones. New Bilstein three-mode adjustable shocks are borrowed from the Hellcats but are uniquely tuned to match this spring/bar setup, the weight of the lighter naturally aspirated engine, and to work with the big 305/35ZR20 Pirelli P Zero three-season (or P Zero Nero all-season) tires. Note that by contrast, the Redeye Widebody is just a Widebody package on a Redeye with no fundamental tuning changes.

Ticking the box for the Widebody option adds $6,000 to a Scat Pack, a Hellcat, or a Hellcat Redeye—each of which comes standard with the slimmer look. It includes the aforementioned tires wrapping forged 11.0 x 20-inch Devil's Rims wheels and a unique wider front splitter that connects to the obvious fender flares needed to envelop these steamrollers. On Scat Packs it also includes the custom-tuned adaptive-damping suspension outlined above plus the Hellcat's 15.4-inch vented and slotted front brakes and six-piston calipers and the dedicated ductwork to cool them—an upgrade from the Scat Pack's 14.2-inch four-piston Brembo setup (in back all Scat Packs and Hellcats get 13.8-inch vented/slotted discs and four-piston calipers).

Dodge's internal testing suggests the Scat Pack Widebody's skidpad grip improves from 0.93 to 0.97 g, that the six-piston Brembo front brakes help shorten stops from 60 mph by 3 feet (now 108 ft), and that improved traction even trims 0.2 second from the quarter-mile time. Heuschele's proud of the fact that the wide Scat Pack can match the lap time of the original 707-hp Hellcat on the 2.14-mile GingerMan Raceway circuit. That's a testament to the Scat Pack's swiftness through the track's 11 turns, given its 222-horse power deficit on two straights that are each longer than a quarter mile. This setup, with more roll stiffness in front, rewards careful corner entry while the looser rear end and heavy-duty limited-slip differential puts more power down and allows a much more aggressive return to throttle for a hastier corner exit.

Almost the exact opposite cornering style is rewarded by the Hellcat Redeye Widebody we sampled at Club Motorsports Park in Tamworth, New Hampshire. The standard Hellcat suspension affords a bit less total front roll-control under that heavier engine, so you can charge into a corner a bit hotter. But then, holy jeepers, do you need to be judicious with the loud-pedal on the way out. This power-oversteer-y setup might not suit MT race consultant Randy Pobst, but Heuschele likes to initiate his turns with the steering wheel and then fine-tune his exit line with the throttle.

On the roads leading to and from Club Motorsports Park the heavy front springs on the Scat Pack exact very little kidney trauma with the suspension in its default Auto mode, and to these ears the sound of the naturally aspirated 6.4-liter is preferable to the shrieking whine of the Hellcats' supercharger. The Hellcat Redeye Widebody seems equally comfortable on these roads. Another pleasant surprise with both cars—these 305-section street-compound tires are far less prone to following truck ruts and hound-dogging around within the lane than were the sticky R-compound 305s on a lighter Mustang GT Perf Pack 2 we recently tested. The steering feel and effort also suited me perfectly in the lowest-effort Street setting.

On the 15 undulating curves and multiple hills of Club Motorsports' 2.5-mile course, the Scat Pack Widebody's limits feel a bit more accessible—or perhaps just better aligned with my natural slow-in-fast-out driving style. The Redeye Widebody's combination of mechanical grip, huge straight-line speed, and looser nose had me charging into some corners too hot and blowing the exits. We ran with the traction control in Street mode, and I felt it intervening frequently in the Redeye; almost never in the Scat Pack. I also preferred the quicker, crisper shift quality of the 392's 8HP70 transmission to that of the Redeye's beefier 8HP90, which is fortified with stronger clutches and larger shafts. The programming is the same, so the difference is likely attributable to higher engine and transmission inertia. Both transmissions self-selected the optimal gear for every corner when left to their Track mode programming. Neither car really seemed to "shrink" on the track. They both still felt huge, and their size would surely be intimidating in wheel-to-wheel racing, but they're great fun for club runs against the clock.

I close out the day by riding shotgun with Heuschele in each car with all nannies slumbering in Track mode. It was a great chance to witness his throttle-tuning of the driving line in the Redeye, and to also feel how much earlier he reached full throttle in the Scat Pack—at or before the apex in most turns. Heuschele mentioned that back home on the flatter GingerMan circuit, the Redeye Widebody's improved lap times are about equitably attributable to the added power and improved grip. It laps 1.0 second faster (six car lengths at the finish line) than the narrow-body Redeye, and 2.0 seconds (12 car lengths) ahead of the 717-hp narrow-body Hellcat. Where will Mr. Universe finish relative to a ZL1 1LE and a Shelby GT500? Heuschele doesn't lose any sleep worrying about such a race. "Drive them each across country to the track and tell us which one you like best."
More Hellcat Photos: http://www.thehemi.com/gallery/main.php?g2_itemId=12137
More Scat Pack Photos: http://www.thehemi.com/gallery/main.php?g2_itemId=12184

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Scott Moseman
http://www.TheHEMI.com/
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