2020 DODGE CHARGER HELLCAT WIDEBODY: FIRST DRIVE

A Display Of Power, A Practice Of Discipline

Dodge Charger Hellcat Widebody

Election season is around the corner, and that means one thing: a tidal wave of misleading campaign ads from all sides, which in turn help sponsor sensationalized coverage conducted by dubious media companies that report on each time a candidate farted, just to “inform us” on who is the best candidate to run your life. Then we get to watch them talk over each other during what’s officially described as a “debate,” and then we get to see that maybe three more times, and then a third-party candidate guests on The Joe Rogan Experience to steal votes. Then we all line up in gymnasiums to fill out ballots, standing behind and in front of every cross section of America that you wish would have stayed home (but most of them do). Then somebody is crowned king. That’s how things get done ’round here.

I have a better idea: Give every presidential candidate three hours behind the wheel of a 2020 Dodge Charger Hellcat Widebody, and see what they do. 707 horsepower from a 6.2L supercharged V8 engine is a massive symbol of power, and should one of the candidates abuse that power, then we know they can’t be trusted with running the whole show. Definitely a better judge of character than some debate, that’s for sure.

All photos by and exclusively for MuscleCarsandTrucks.com

While other marques and automakers have been busy tying themselves in knots to pursue modernity with the latest gizmo cars and crossovers, Dodge has been busy perfecting the art of crafting huge hammers. And no matter what new technology leap is around the corner, or what sort of silly vehicle trend is up next (CUV convertibles – just you wait), plenty of people out there still just want the brutish feel of swinging a hammer.

The additional charm of the 2020 Dodge Charger Hellcat Widebody is that seems to purely focus on two essentials: power and style. When it comes to the muscle car market, and most muscle car customers, almost nothing else matters. If you doubt it, check the score board. The Dodge Charger is the best selling full-size passenger car in America. Moreover, the Charger’s brother, the Dodge Challenger, finally took the number one sales spot ahead of both the Chevrolet Camaro and the Ford Mustang during Q3 2019. Sure, Dodge Power Dollars likely played into it. But then again, that’s marketing done right.

The powerful looks of the Charger Hellcat Widebody seem to take precedent over the sort of high-budget engineering techniques exhibited by other automakers. On the track – in this case the incredibly technical Sonoma Raceway in California – the supersized amount of Pirelli P Zero 305-section rubber mounted in all four corners – is just as much a means to keep the Charger Hellcat Widebody planted and under control as it is pleasing to the eye. There’s no fancy electronic limited slip differential (Dodge says one wouldn’t fit underneath), no strut tower brace, no magnetic or spool valve dampers, no weight reduction techniques… just four feet of combined tire width touching the ground at all times. The resulting sensations around a corner is the sort of pitching and rolling you’d expect from a Charger, but it stubbornly bear hugs the pavement. Meanwhile, the ZF-sourced TorqueFlite 8-speed transmission put on a masterclass on how and when to shift and hold whatever gear it needed to.

0-60 in the 2020 Charger Hellcat Widebody takes just 3.6 seconds while the quarter-mile elapsed time comes in at 10.96 seconds. The Hellcat Widebody can also hold .96 g on the skid pad, which combined makes this the quickest and best-handling production Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat ever. To quantify this, the 2020 Dodge Charger Charger SRT Hellcat Widebody runs 2.1 seconds faster than the standard body style around FCA’s 2.1-mile road course at its Chelsea Proving Grounds, or 13 car lengths after one lap.

The front suspension makeup of the 2020 Charger Hellcat Widebody is an independent double wishbone short long arms (SLA) setup. It features a high upper “A” arm, lateral and diagonal lower links, coil springs, monotube shocks, and a 34 mm hollow stabilizer bar. The 2020 Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat Widebody rear suspension is a five-link independent system with coil springs, a link-type 22 millimeter hollow stabilizer bar, Bilstein ADS shock absorbers, and an isolated suspension cradle. The updated suspension, combined with the added contact patch, does its best to control this big beast.

In an impressive demonstration of balance, the 4,500+ pound super sedan takes to trail braking astonishingly well. At Sonoma Raceway, this manifested itself around turns 7 and 9A, the tightest turns around our slightly modified Sonoma Raceway layout. Those massive front tires just refused to scrub out. But with 707 horsepower (or in the case of the 2020 Charger Hellcat Daytona 50th Anniversary Edition, 717 horsepower, which we also drove), that steering wheel has to be pointed back to center before releasing the bald eagles with the skinny pedal.

Make no mistake, the Charger Hellcat is and always will be a lot of car, and while the added tire for the 2020 model year helps with cornering forces and braking, that legendary Hellcat engine doesn’t seem to notice. It will chew them up and spit them out just as effectively as it always has, if you don’t give that kind of power the respect it commands. The massive Brembo stopping force directed by the brake pedal can bail out over zealous drivers to an extent (needing just 107 feet to stop this charging rhino from 60-0 mph), but proper right foot discipline will better your chances of keeping the awesome paint choices of the Dodge Charger Hellcat Widebody on the shiny side.

2020 Dodge Charger

Driving the supercharged Dodge around the formidable Sonoma Raceway is a great way to get a feel for it, but where the Charger Hellcat Widebody is most in its element is on the road. Those long haul point A to point B trips where that new record time is waiting to be set. The noodling pavement around Sonoma County was the perfect setting, as the big cat cascaded along the countryside with a rapid and confident pace.

The interior in the 2020 Dodge Charger Hellcat Widebody remains virtually unchanged from before, which means it’s still a pleasant enough place to be, but we’re not going to bore you with things like dashboard textures and various switchgear materials. All you need to know is that the driving settings are wildly configurable, that the Harmon/Kardon system kicks, and that there’s comfortably enough room for three of your friends plus you (four, if you’re in a pinch).

So, the price. IndiGo Blue 2020 Dodge Charger Hellcat Widebody we piloted stickers at $78,910 as tested, with $1,495 destination included and less than $10k in options. Certainly, there are fancier and more technical cars out there for the money, but when shopping for a huge hammer, the Charger Hellcat Widebody is the biggest one. For example, you could have an Audi A7 for this kind of money, if you wanted less than half of the horsepower. Or you could have a BMW M3, but again, it’s far down in the hp count (and cylinder count), and honestly, the M3 is pretty boring these days. The feeble output of the A7 and M3 in comparison to the 2020 Dodge Charger Hellcat Widebody also means that these vehicles are terrible barometers for figuring out whom is most fit to be president.

Written by Manoli Katakis

Detroit Region SCCA Member and founder of MC&T. Automotive Media Jedi Knight. Not yet the rank of Master.

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