Arguably, it's the 2012 Dodge Charger SRT8 that benefited the most from SRT's latest makeover. Last time we drove it, back in 2008, we loved it for its brute force, but thought the running gear was "unsettled, jittery, and unpolished." That's all done with. A new adaptive damping system, incorporating Bilstein coilovers, does a tremendous job soaking up the heavy car's former slop.
The suspension changes are most obvious on Willow Spring's Omega series of turns — a punishing, up-and-over section where the car is forced into corners with the suspension alternately weighted and unweighted. Here the Charger feels surprisingly on point.
As for the Hemi, let's get the specs out of the way, right up front. SRT's spent a bit of brain currency pulling out more low-end torque. The new, 6.4-liter Hemi gets a trick active-intake manifold using two different lengths of intake runners. They've also added a high-lift camshaft with cam phasing, all of which adds 80 lb.-ft. of torque at 2,900 rpm. Horsepower's up to 470, with torque peaking at 470, an 11 percent and 12 percent increase, respectively. Yes, the muscle is there. Are we being petty to have hoped for a solid 500?
The Charger also gets the best-looking dash cluster of the bunch, with a new, SRT-only steering wheel providing a much-needed tactile connection to what's happening underneath. Yes, they listened.