This is it. It's the new Dodge Charger SRT8, and like its lesser-powered sibling, it gets entirely new sheet metal for the 2012 model year. But the changes aren't just skin deep. Under the hood, there's a new 6.4-liter HEMI V8 heart delivering more horsepower and torque than the 6.1-liter HEMI V8 it replaces. Heaping a dose of higher horsepower and sleeker design on a four-door sedan that's already a fan favorite? Yes, please.
For starters, let's talk about the exterior design — the same evolution that started on the new Charger's been applied here, but turned up to 11 on the high performance scale. The new SRT8 gets a completely reworked front fascia with a blacked-out high-gloss bumper that looks like it was snatched straight from the latest Mitsubishi Evo. We'll have to see how that plays out in person, especially with the body trim color continuing below the wide-mouthed grille — but for the moment, it doesn't feel too shabby.
The new Charger SRT8 also sits on split five-spoke, 20-inch lightweight forged and polished aluminum wheels with black painted pockets.
The new LED-lit "racetrack" taillamp on theback end of the SRT8 looks even more sexy than its application on the base model thanks to a new rear spoiler that really lets the 2012 Dodge Charger SRT8 play off the high performance look.
We haven't seen inside the new SRT8 yet, but we're told to expect an all-new, leather-wrapped, SRT-exclusive steering wheel with a unique rim section with a flattened bottom surface that showcases the SRT logo. For the high-performance look, carbon-weave, fiber aluminum interior trim pieces are integrated into the new instrument panel and shifter bezel. The standard paddle shifters flank both sides of the new steering wheel behind the new contoured palm rests.
And that brings us to the meat and potatoes the estimated power ratings for the 2012 Dodge Charger SRT8's all-new 6.4-liter Hemi are 465 horsepower and 465 lb.-ft. of rear-tire-burning torque, including an estimated additional 80 lb.-ft. of torque at 2,900 rpm. Rowr.
The engine's matched to the W5A580 five-speed automatic transmission with, for the first time, paddle-shift technology joins the standard AutoStick. No word — or expectation of a manual tranny yet. But one can always hope.
The Charger SRT8 also features an adaptive damping suspension that uses a wide range of on-road and driver inputs, such as vehicle speed, steering angle, steering speed, brake torque, throttle position and lateral acceleration, to automatically tune the suspension for specific conditions. Drivers also can manually choose between "Auto" and "Sport" settings that we're told will change the shock damping and harshness characteristics from the ease of everyday commuting to harsher, more challenging driving situations.
For the moment, Dodge has topped one of our all-time favorite high-performance four-doors for 2012 with a heaping helping of higher horsepower and new design. And that seems like it's a good thing. But we'll have to see for ourselves on the road and track. We'll get our first in-person look when Sam Smith sees it unveiled officially later today at the Chicago Auto Show.