After weeks (though it felt like years) of hype, the Dodge Challenger SRT Demon will finally be revealed tonight. We already know a good bit about the car and even heard some rumors about insane power figures. But once the curtain drops will it be worth it?
The Hellcat was the most talked about muscle car for months because it gave buyers access to a bonkers 707 horsepower under $100,000. Despite Dodge’s marketing spin that the Hellcat is well-rounded, the reality is that car is really best at one thing: smoking tires and ripping straight-line runs.
We know the Demon will be even more focused on dominating at the drag strip. So much so that it seems that Dodge has backed itself into a corner regarding this rather one-dimensional performance measure. The Demon can’t just be quick in the quarter-mile; it has to surpass the Hellcat by a huge margin. The most recent teaser trailer hints that the Demon could run somewhere in the nine-second range. Having the ability to run down a drag strip in less than 10 seconds is impressive, but that isn’t the number the buying public will focus on in the long term.
Once the news cycles die down, no one is going to really care about all technical details about tire sizes, cooling systems, and line lock transmissions. We aren’t a society that gets caught up in the little things, we focus on soundbites and in this game the soundbite that matters is horsepower.
I’ve said before that anything shy of 900 HP is going to be a letdown. Of course, no one really needs a 707 HP car nor do they need a 900+ HP car, but that’s not the point. The drive behind the purchase of something like the Hellcat is not that the owner has a practical use for all that power, but rather they want the bragging rights to say they have it.
Demon owners aren’t going to want incremental bragging rights over Hellcat owners, they want a big jump in power. Keep in mind that a good chunk of Hellcat owners will probably upgrade to the Demon. Therefore, If a Hellcat is like buying a machine gun, for the Demon to be worth it can’t just be a technically more powerful and faster gun; the Demon needs to be a Howitzer.
As for price, it will clearly be more expensive than the Hellcat but if Dodge is smart they will keep the base MSRP under the $100,000 mark. Granted, dealer markups will send this devil way over that in the first few months, but once the market readjusts the Demon still needs to be relatively “affordable” to a key demographic.
With the Viper gone the Demon will now become the “halo” car for the Dodge brand, and if the automaker expects this drag racing monster to carry a frankly out of date lineup, it’s going to need at least 900 horsepower and a price around $90,000. We’ll see if we’re right tonight.