If you’re out on the market shopping for a high-powered performance sedan, chances are that the Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat is somewhere near the top of that list. Acquiring a bigger sedan with equal parts performance, luxury, and attitude is hard to find but Dodge seems to be the curator that you have always needed.
Tailoring to every taste and budget, the Charger is offered with a V6 and three different V8s, from the bargain basement priced R/T model all the way up to the notorious SRT Hellcat. Throw in brash styling and plenty of fun options, and Dodge has got a four-door muscle car for everyone.
But dropping $80,000 for a supercharged four-door sedan nicknamed by some as the Hellkitty does seem a bit ludicrous – good luck convincing the spouse. Luckily, if you can put up with just 485 hp instead of the 707 hp of the Hellcat, you can find yourself in a formidable car that will still tickle your inner teenager whenever you fire it up.
The 2016 Dodge Charger SRT 392 or what I’ve personally dubbed “The Terror Cat” is the next best thing. It’s the happy medium between performance and price. What are supposed to be normal drives to the market become highlights of the day.
The SRT 392 is essentially a Hellcat that’s been bumped up in displacement and stripped of its supercharger. Therefore, it shares pretty much every feature including the eyeball-ejecting brakes, which include new six-piston front Brembo calipers that pinch huge 391 mm discs.
Those humungous brakes go a long way, especially when the road gets wet. Even with the sporty summer Pirelli P Zero tires, the Charger handles fabulously in slippery conditions and when the back end decides to kick out, it is predictable and controllable.
With a 0-100km/h time estimated in the low 4-second range, the SRT 392 is an instant Emoji machine, and is more than capable of doing a burnout if you get too excited at a freshly lit green light. While it won’t tear your face off like the Hellcat will, the SRT 392 does make you forget that you’re driving a 1,987 kg full-size sedan; it’s even heavier than the outgoing model. We never thought about the weight to be honest. We were drunk on torque—all 475 lb-ft. of it. I wondered if my license would even survive the week.
Fiddling around with the SRT Performance Pages function on the center screen allows you to add weight to the steering, which was good for self-centering and muscle-building but not much else. Most notably, although the Hellcat uses a hydraulic steering setup and the SRT 392 sticks with an electronically assisted rack, there is still enough feel in the latter to offer a dialed in experience.
You are also able to adjust the suspension and powertrain behaviour as well, ranging from a perfectly benign Street Mode to a tailspin happy Track Mode. The latter option increases throttle response, delivers DCT-like upshifts and rev-matched downshifts from the ZF-sourced TorqueFlite 8-speed automatic.
Shifting is so quick in Track mode that the exhaust will bark and fart just like a DSG-equipped Golf GTI but with the grunt and roar of a V8 motor. The noise is intoxicating and will make you want to downshift just to repeat the process all over again. It unleashes the exhaust note from hell, or more accurately, from the Hellcat.
You see, the SRT 392 and Hellcat share the same exhaust system with electronically controlled valves and an exclusive mid-pipe to give it a unique sound over the Challenger. The Charger is wonderfully loud at full tilt, and once you’re done having your fun, you can put it right back into Street Mode and it’ll quiet down to near V6 levels.
The B5 Blue painted Charger (a throwback paintjob to the 1970 Dodge Charger R/T) is as inconspicuous as a bright orange ocean shoehorning itself down the Don Valley River. People would stare, give me the thumbs up and even want to take photos with the car. It’s a cult-creating icon of American muscle.
The SRT specific nose is menacing and clean, and the wide rear end and outboard air vents give it the hunkered down “I mean business” look. The interior, likewise, is adorned with further upgrades to make it more upscale, and SRT models include a thick, flat-bottomed steering wheel and meaty, supportive, and supple Laguna leather front seats.
In Canada, the Charger SRT 392 faces little to no competition. All other four-door performance sedans cost a Hell of a lot more, including the Cadillac ATS-V. Although, you can get the ATS-V with a manual transmission, it still lacks the grumble of a V8, and it’s price range will put you into SRT Hellcat territory any way. The Chevrolet SS, which could perhaps be the best competition, is only available in the United States.
Starting at $55,995, the SRT 392 offers $23,845 worth of savings over an SRT Hellcat, and you can put that money towards other things you love. With that extra coin, you can still lay down 485 horsepower and create your very own thunderstorms every time you start the motor.
The available R/T Scat Pack is even more of a value offer starting at just $49,000 and change. You will give up the interior luxuries but still retain that 6.4-litre HEMI motor and its accompanying exhaust. Yes, the new generation of Mustang and Camaro will likely beat the Charger around a track but the Charger offers versatility. With just the touch of a button, the SRT 392 can go from a balls-to-the-wall terrorizer to a hushed up big comfy couch. Frankly, we can’t think of a better valued performance sedan that can do it all.