Hellcat is becoming a full litter for Dodge.
The Dodge brand, which FCA is winnowing down to a sports car brand, is building on the success of the Challenger SRT Hellcat and subsequent Demon by expanding the family.
After the Challenger began as a 2008 model. Dodge added the Hellcat for 2015, and the Demon came out as an 2018 model. “For ’19 we’re going to do a Redeye. It’s a Hellcat that’s been possessed by a Demon,” said Steve Beahm, head of Passenger Car Brands-Dodge, SRT, Chrysler, and Fiat for FCA North America.
“We’ve got a Hellcat body, basically suspension and platform, and then we’ve got the Demon engine,” Beahm says in an interview with Motor Trend. “It’s a little bit different calibration than the Demon engine.”
The supercharged 6.2-liter Hemi V-8 generates 797 hp and 707 lb-ft of torque in the 2019 Challenger SRT Hellcat Redeye, making it the most powerful production V-8 now that Dodge has stopped production of the Demon. It has an eight-speed automatic transmission.
Quickest muscle car
FCA says the Challenger Redeye is now the quickest muscle car with a claimed 0–60 mph time of 3.4 seconds and a quarter-mile time of 10.8 seconds at 131 mph with a top speed of 203 mph. The Demon, capable of 840 hp and 770 lb-ft on high-octane race fuel, has a claimed 0-to-60 mph in 2.3 seconds. Its 3,300-unit production run ended in May.
“In terms of performance, the Demon was intended for the track even though it was street legal,” Beahm said. The Redeye grew out of a desire to provide a car that would be out on the road, not just on the track or in somebody’s garage. Dodge designed the Redeye as a mainstream vehicle with a lot of the same performance features in the Hellcat or Demon.
The Redeye “is a wide body as well, so you get the 3.5-inch-wider wheels, more rubber on the ground,” Beahm said. It has Pirelli P Zero tires.
It does not have the Demon’s Drag mode suspension tuning for weight transfer on launch or TransBrake which mechanically locks the output shaft of the transmission as the throttle goes up to build and hold more power for launch in Drag mode, but the Redeye does have line lock.
Not limited run or special edition
Like the Hellcat, the Redeye is not a special edition or limited run, Beahm said. “It’s not limited to certain volumes.” He expects the Redeye to account for 7 to 8 percent of total Hellcat sales.
The Redeye goes into production in Brampton, Ontario, this fall for delivery by the end of the year. It will top the 2019 Challenger lineup that still includes the SRT Hellcat, which boosts its performance to 717 hp and 656 lb-ft of torque. That is made possible with a new dual-snorkel hood that pays homage to muscle cars from the mid-’60s and early ’70s and is fully functional, providing maximum air intake. The left snorkel goes straight into the induction system and allows the engine to give the extra 10 hp.
The previous bulging aluminum hood from the Hellcat migrates to the Scat Pack for ’19. Dodge is also making the widebody available on the Scat Pack for the first time. The R/T Scat Pack Widebody shares the same fender flares as the SRT Hellcat Widebody, which add 3.5 inches to the overall width and is shod with Pirelli P Zero 305/35ZR20 tires mounted to 20 x 11-inch forged Devil’s Rim aluminum wheels. Also for ’19, Challenger GT RWD and R/T models get a standard high-performance suspension.
Ramming the Hellcat engine into a pickup
The Hellcat engine also migrates to Ram for a performance pickup to go up against the Ford F-150 Raptor. The Ram TRX will go into production by 2022, according to FCA’s latest five-year plan. Says Beahm: “We’ve got great engineers that provided us with an outstanding engine that has a bunch of performance. The Ram guys think that’s a good fit for them to take advantage of it as well, and we’re good with that.”
Is there room to further expand the Hellcat family? “We’re always challenging our engineers. We’re always challenging our people on the marketing side to come up with what the people want. That’s one thing the Dodge team has done well,” Beahm said, noting Dodge has the largest social media following, on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram of any brand that allows interaction with customers. ”Our job is to listen to them, and when we can go down some paths they want us to, if it’s good for our brand, we’ll do it. That’s a lot of what’s happened over the last few years with Hellcat, Demon, and then the Redeye because a lot of the Demons are in storage rooms, a few of them are on the track. I want to see some Redeyes out on the road.”
Beahm also will continue the SRT brand, which pushes the performance edge, which is crucial to Dodge.
Taking up where Kuniskis left off
Beahm took over management of the passenger brands in February. He replaced Tim Kuniskis, who was promoted to global chief for Maserati and Alfa Romeo. Kuniskis is credited with taking the moribund Dodge brand and creating niche performance cars that generated a lot of buzz for the brand. He said his goal was to “tattoo the Dodge name into the subconscious of every performance enthusiast.”
Beahm is another good fit. “I started racing with my dad when I was 16 and did it for about 20 years and only gave it up because I ran out of time,” he tells Motor Trend. “My first car was a ’69 [Plymouth] Road Runner and the second one was a ’70 [Dodge] Challenger. Then I went on the dark side and raced a couple GM models for a while but I started on the Mopar side and whatever my dad had available, I was willing to drive at the time.” Eventually career and family responsibilities left little time for racing, but he still follows it today.
When Sergio Marchionne, chairman and CEO of FCA, asked Beahm to take over the passenger brands, “It was a quick ‘yes.’”
Dodge, Chrysler not focus of five-year plan
The latest five-year plan, which takes FCA through 2022, is focused on the automaker’s four volume brands: Jeep, Ram, Alfa Romeo, and Maserati. The brands overseen by Beahm are relegated to predominantly NAFTA-region brands with smaller portfolios and sales and fewer resources. It requires some spit and ingenuity to maintain older platforms and create new vehicles.
It means Challenger and Charger, as well as the Chrysler 300, remain on the same, aging platform, with sheetmetal updates and other enhancements to keep them as fresh as possible.
“Dodge’s role is to be prominent as America’s sports car brand. That’s what we’ve labelled it in the past few years, and I truly believe that’s where the brand is at today and where it’s headed for the future,” Beahm said.
Viper is dead
That does not mean the return of the Viper. “At this stage, as Mr. Marchionne indicated, the Viper is not in the [next five-year] plan.”
And although the Durango fits the profile with its SRT version, the Journey’s future at this point is only being confirmed through the 2019 model year. The plan remains to discontinue the Grand Caravan minivan when more capacity is needed at the Windsor, Ontario, plant that also makes the Chrysler Pacifica, and the brand could add a Pacifica-based Chrysler crossover. Beahm said his job is to grow the Chrysler brand, which may or may not continue to include the 300 sedan.