Friday, April 2, 2010

Comparison: 2009 Dodge Challenger SRT8 vs 2010 Hennessey Camaro HPE550 vs 2010 Ford Shelby Mustang GT500

Customers who shell out the cash for a Challenger SRT8 -- including the $2,100 gas-guzzler tax -- receive a car that is pretty much fully loaded. Only three options are available: a set of summer tires instead of all-season rubber for $50, a MyGig Multimedia Infotainment system with navigation for $890 and a power sunroof for $950.

As with most SRT8 applications, the 6.1L HEMI kicks out 425 horsepower and 420 lb-ft of torque.

A convertible is also expected to bow sometime in 2009 as a 2010 mode, with all three trim levels available.

Manual transmission cars come with Chrysler's Hill Start Assist technology -- as used in the Dodge Ram, Jeep Commander, Grand Cherokee and the Liberty -- which maintains brake pressure until throttle is applied.

Dodge also offers a Trak Pack, which appears to be little more than a marketing name given to a specific package of transmission, shifter and gearing.

Although Dodge has yet to disclose performance numbers on lesser models, it did announce some performance numbers for the 2008 Challenger SRT8 equipped with an automatic transmission. The sprint from zero to 60 take s4.9 seconds with the car topping out at about 170 mph.

But in addition the the car's straight line performance, Dodge also emphasized the Challenger's braking and cornering abilities. Massive Brembo brakes squeezing slotted rotors and the car's wide tires -- size 245 up front and 255 out back -- bringing the Challenger from 60 to 0 in only 120 feet. Additionally, the car can go from 0-100-0 in 16.5 seconds.

Despite the Challenger's muscle-car image, it handles more like a midsize sports car. According to Dodge, the Challenger SRT8 cirlces the skid pad at .9 gs.

Although the production Challenger is very close to the concept in design, there have been a few tweaks. Most noticeably, the Challenger has gained a B-pillar for structural reasons. Other less noticeable changes include taillights that have been divided into sections, a simplified grille, larger side mirrors, and more typical door handles.


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