INDIANAPOLIS, Indiana — 3.5 inches. That’s how much wider the 2018 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat Widebody is than a garden variety Hellcat. You may have noticed as well that the Widebody’s stylish fender flares are essentially the same ones you’ll find on Dodge’s ultimate drag strip destroyer, the Demon.
Beyond the bulging bodywork, that extra width translates into 1.6 inches of extra front track, 2.0 inches of extra rear track, and 30 mm of extra tire width on either side. But unlike the Demon’s rear seat, however, the extra width isn’t a $1 option — the $72,590 SRT Hellcat Widebody is a solid $7,300 more than its 3.5-inch narrower brethren, which remains as part of Dodge’s lineup because why not. You do get a day of instruction at the Bob Bondurant School of High Performance Driving in Arizona along with the new 20 x 11-inch wheels and 305/40ZR20 Pirelli P Zero tires as part of your purchase.
According to Dodge, the relatively small changes made a big impact. It reportedly helped the Widebody shave 2 seconds off the base Hellcat’s lap time around a 1.7-mile track that Dodge wouldn’t specify. Quarter-mile performance dropped 0.3-second to 10.9 seconds, maximum lateral grip increased by 0.04 g to 0.97 g, and 0-60 mph improved by 0.1 second to 3.4 seconds.
While a handful of laps around a modified road course at Indianapolis Motor Speedway are hardly enough for a thorough evaluation, I felt more confident turning its wheel than I have in any other Challenger variant. The big muscle car’s characteristic body roll remained, but the feeling that the rear was getting dangerously close to running out of grip never materialized. The Pirellis stayed comfortably planted and drama-free as the supercharged 6.2-liter V-8 punished them with as much as 707 hp and 650 lb-ft of torque sent via a fast-shifting eight-speed automatic. (You can stick with the standard Tremec TR-6060 six-speed manual, though you’re running the risk of slower lap times if you choose to shift for yourself.)
Don’t call this Hellcat a track rat, though. There’s no added lightness to be found — it’s still a full-fledged, 4,500-pound Challenger. The interior is largely unchanged from any other Challenger save for the well-bolstered SRT seats, the SRT Performance pages in the infotainment system that display performance info and let you set the drive modes, and some Hellcat badges. Passenger room, cargo space, and available creature comforts don’t change. Whether you consider this a positive or not depends on your philosophy — there’s an argument to be made for both the daily driveable track toy as well as the dedicated track-day special.
Staying below even the highest speed limit this country has to offer when the road is open requires conscious effort in the Widebody. Look at the throttle wrong and you’ll be wishing you’d invested in a Valentine One. I rode shotgun in one on the way back from dragging the Demon at Lucas Oil Raceway and the driver routinely risked the ire of local law enforcement without any intent to do so. Challengers have always been good at hiding speed, but this was a new level.
It’s actually impressive how consistent the Challenger’s character has remained over the years regardless of power level, suspension, and tires — a testament to the ability of car’s engineers and its somewhat timeless muscle car persona. While we’ll have to wait to get one in at Automobile HQ for a thorough evaluation to fully bake our opinion, the addition of the 2018 SRT Hellcat Widebody to the lineup along with the Demon does mean that there’s now a Challenger for (almost) all reasons.
2018 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat Widebody Specifications
|ENGINE||6.2 supercharged OVH 16-valve V-8/707 hp @ 6,000 rpm, 650 lb-ft @ 4,800 rpm|
|LAYOUT||2-door, 5-passenger, front-engine, RWD coupe|
|EPA MILEAGE||13/21-22 mpg (city/hwy)|
|L x W x H||197.5 x 75.7 x 57.5 in|
|0-60 MPH||3.4 sec|
|TOP SPEED||195 mph|