Dodge Challenger Redeye & Scat Pack Widebody Are Track Day Beasts
Demon power in the Hellcat Challenger creates an incredible all-around performance car.
Dodge shocked the American performance community again earlier this summer when the brand introduced the 2019 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat Redeye. This new package takes the supercharged Hemi from the 2018 Demon and packs it into the Hellcat Challenger, allowing buyers the option to get all of the comforts of the Hellcat with the power of the Demon.
I got to travel with Dodge to Portland, Maine to test drive the 797-horsepower Challenger Redeye on the road and on the track. The experience was just as much fun as you might expect, with the newest supercharged Mopar muscle car exceeding my expectations.
My day of driving the various 2019 Dodge Challengers began at a warehouse in Portland, Maine, where FCA had set up a spread of cars from the 2019 model year. Engineers talked to us about the entire 2019 lineup, including the new Scat Pack 1320, the new rear-wheel-drive GT, the new Hellcat with 717 horsepower, the Scat Pack Widebody and, of course, the Redeye. After the short presentation, my group of 18 writers headed out to where the assortment of test cars were parked, including the gorgeous Go Mango 2019 Challenger SRT Hellcat Redeye Widebody shown here.
My daily driver is a 2017 Hellcat Challenger in Go Mango, so I naturally jumped on the chance to spend a few hours on the road with the 797-horsepower Redeye in what I consider to be the best color. On the inside, this Challenger had the optional black leather-and-suede interior layout rather than the new standard cloth.
Dodge has made cloth seats standard, and while that feature brings down the base price a bit, I would advise everyone who is ordering a Redeye to opt for one of the leather interior packages. If you are buying the car strictly to go racing, the cloth might make might sense, but if you are going to use your Redeye as a driver, pay for the leather and thank me later.
My morning with the Dodge Challenger Redeye began in downtown Portland, but after weaving through some tight city streets and a short stint on the highway, we hit the desolate country roads of southern Maine. Our destination was Club Motorsports in Tamworth, New Hampshire, and the roads between the two points are about as “country cruising” as it gets. These backwoods roads allowed us to let the Challenger Redeye stretch its legs a bit, but we also got to experience the road handling and ride quality of the 797-horsepower muscle car.
This engine first debuted in the 2018 Demon with slightly more power, but with that Challenger being built to dominate the drag strip, it didn’t offer the same road handling capabilities. The combination of the Demon-specific suspension and 18-inch drag radial tires doesn’t make the car unpleasant to drive on public streets, but there is no question that the Hellcat handles a whole lot better than the Demon.
The Dodge Challenger Redeye effectively takes the power of the Demon and combines it with the handling of the Hellcat, so I found that it felt a great deal like the “regular” Widebody Hellcat while driving around rural Maine and New Hampshire. The ride was a bit stiffer than that of the Demon, but the Redeye sticks to the curves much more effectively. The little you lose in ride quality is more than made up for in the handling.
Really, the only time that the Redeye felt different than the 2018 Challenger Hellcat Widebody that I drove for a couple thousand miles last year was the hard acceleration. Whether I was launching from a stop or climbing hard through the midrange, there is no question that the extra 90 horsepower and 57 lbs-ft of torque allows the Redeye to pull noticeably harder than my 2017 Hellcat Challenger. However, in terms of road manners, handling and basic interior comforts, the Redeye felt just like the “standard” Hellcat Widebody.
To be clear, that is a good thing, as the 2018 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat Widebody is a fantastic car in terms of ride quality, road handling and straight line performance. Adding extra power just makes the car ever better, and contrary to popular belief, you don’t have to be at a dragstrip to enjoy this extra power.
Arriving at the Track
When Dodge allowed us test the 2018 Demon, we did so at a drag strip. With the Redeye, the company wanted to show that the Challenger is more than just a dragster. To do this, the our road drive was at Club Motorsports, a big, beautiful road course in Tamworth, New Hampshire.
The track is 2.5-miles long and contains 15 turns of variable intensity, but the most striking aspect of this track is the elevation change. The Club Motorsports road course is basically perched on the side of a mountain, meaning that there is a 250-foot difference in elevation between the highest and lowest points on the track.
Our track time included laps in the Redeye along with the new Scat Pack Widebody, with groups of drivers swapping between the 485-horsepower cars and the 797-horsepower cars. We started in the Scat Pack, getting a feel for the track with the less-powerful of the two Dodge titans. During my seat time in the naturally-aspirated Challengers, I was impressed at how much the Widebody treatment improved the handling capabilities of the R/T Scat Pack.
The Scat Pack is arguably the best bang-for-your-buck muscle car package, with 485 horsepower and a price starting below $40,000, but the addition of the Widebody package (previously only available on the Hellcat) has the same positive contributions to the Scat Pack models.