Henry Kissinger once famously said ''''power is the ultimate aphrodisiac.'''' This may have been Kissinger's most lucid moment. The statement is certainly a glass full of lucidity in the face of combustion run amok under the Dodge Challenger Hellcat's hood.You want horsepower? At 707 horsepower the 2016 Challenger Hellcat challenges exotics costing five times its price. The 6.2-liter V8 engine is a marvel in that it starts and idles (relatively) smoothly- makes all the right sounds and even gets over 20 mpg if you stay out of the supercharger boost. The 8-speed automatic transmission in our test car provided crisp shifts in full auto mode plus immediate response when playing with the column-mounted paddle shifters. It's a constant act of restraint when driving this car- because anything under 85 mph feels like a waste of the Hellcat's existence. The Challenger itself is large and can transport normal-sized humans in the back seat to a degree the Mustang and Camaro can only dream about. And the trunk is comparatively enormous. The Challenger ds a very reasonable job on sinewy roads where outright sports cars shine- astonishing given its 4-449lb curb weight. The standard three-mode Bilstein shocks help create a reasonably plush ride despite the car's main mission- but dial up Full Hard and it downright invents extra high-amplitude bumps in the road. It also corners flatly through very quick steering- even if any of the communication between front tires and road surface is coated in Novocain. Equipped with vented Brembo front brakes that break some sort of size record at 15.4 inches in diameter and clamped by six-piston calipers- the Hellcat stops almost as well as it gs. But the main mission is acceleration and that mission is not just accomplished- it's run over mid-track at about 105 decibels. Competitive numbers put the Challenger Hellcat at 3.6 seconds to 60mph and through the quarter-mile in just 11.7 seconds at 126mph. Go full drag and swap on ''''cheater slicks'''' (drag tires that are also street legal) and you'll see that 11.7 drop to about 11.2 seconds. But even that misses the point. Here's the point: wheel spin at 90mph. Even when cruising at extra-legal speeds- safeguards disabled (on a closed test track- naturally)- stab the throttle with abandon and you get wheel spin- you get sideways- you create skidmarks on the outside and on the inside- if you get my drift. This car is perfect.
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