2013 Dodge Challenger SRT8 Core Debuts: Just the Basics, All the Power [2013 Chicago Auto Show]
What does “back-to-basics performance” mean to you? If you reached driving age during the heyday of the all-American muscle car, it means tire-shredding, straight-ahead performance. And if you haven’t driven muscle cars since then, this new SRT edition of the Dodge Challenger should be a pleasant experience. Not only will it shred its rear tires, just like the mighty muscle machines of yesteryear, it also will actually stop.SRT stands for Chrysler’s Street and Racing Technology group, which has been established as a separate brand within the corporate umbrella, à la BMW’s M group and the AMG operation at Mercedes. The mission is to add heat to existing Chrysler vehicles, although in this case, with plenty of fire under the hood already, most of the added heat is on the outside of the car.
The heart of this and other SRT back-to-basics packages introduced at the Chicago auto show is Chrysler’s 392-cubic-inch (6.4-liter) Hemi V-8, paired here with either a six-speed manual or six-speed automatic. Output is 470 horsepower and 470 lb-ft of torque, and with its standard launch control, the SRT go-faster crew forecasts 0-to-60 mph in less than five seconds and a top speed of 182 mph with the manual gearbox (175 with the automatic). When we last tested the Challenger SRT8, we hit 60 in 4.5 seconds and ripped through the quarter in 12.9. Fuel economy is respectable at 23 mpg highway, per the EPA, thanks in part to cylinder deactivation.
Cosmetic heat includes two new look-at-me colors—Hemi Orange and Plum Crazy, both pearl coats—plus the current range of Challenger paint choices. Other distinctions include a blacked-out grille, black SRT rear spoiler, black 392 front-fender decals, 20-inch aluminum wheels with black detailing, and black Brembo brake calipers.
- First Drive: 2013 SRT Viper / Viper GTS
- Instrumented Test: 2012 Dodge Charger SRT8 Super Bee
- Instrumented Test: 2012 Chrysler 300 SRT8
The interior borrows “Ballistic” cloth seat inserts from the new SRT Viper, replacing the cowhides of the regular Challenger SRT8. This car thus features dark-gray cloth bolsters and panel inserts, as well as faux carbon-fiber center-stack and center-console trim. Black “392″ badges are affixed to the fenders.
SRT characterizes this and concurrent versions of the Chrysler 300 and Dodge Charger as “Core” models, basically slightly de-contented versions of the regular SRT cars. The adaptive suspension has been binned for a single-mode Bilstein setup, the fog lamps are deleted, the wheels are cast rather than forged, and the headlamps are halogens instead of the regular HIDs. Pricing for the Challenger SRT8 Core is just a shade under $40K—$39,990—before you factor in about a grand for gas-guzzler tax. (A non-Core Challenger SRT8 runs $45,800.
By Tony Swan