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Hell No: Why SRT Hellcat V-8 Won't Be Giving Viper Extra Bite

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2015 Dodge Challenger  -  First Drive, Portland OR, July 2014

2015 Dodge Challenger - First Drive, Portland OR, July 2014

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The 707-horsepower, 6.2-liter supercharged V-8 in the 2015 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat seems a natural to go under the hood of a vehicle that could better handle all that power up to 200 mph and above. And to casual enthusiasts, it would make sense that car might be the Viper.

But as SRT powertrain director Chris Cowland told us this past week, that’s simply not going to happen -- not ever, within the current generation of the Viper.

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There are several critical reasons, really, and they all come back to the dimensions of the Hemi.

Because of the HEMI’s tall cylinder heads, there’s simply no way that SRT engineers could package the Apache or its new 6.2-liter supercharged variant under the hood of the Viper, Cowland told us. It would require punching up above the hood, or heavily modifying the hoodline (it’s not just close, it would be several inches) to the point at which it would adversely affect the Viper’s aerodynamics.

2015 Dodge Challenger - First Drive, Portland OR, July 2014

2015 Dodge Challenger - First Drive, Portland OR, July 2014

Enlarge Photo
Even if engineers were to solve the hoodline dilemma, there’s a width issue; the HEMI won’t actually clear the Viper’s chassis rails; once again, it’s the tall cylinder heads, and the overall width they bring to the engine.

The exhaust manifold and supercharger hardware also add to the dimensional problem, Cowland said, and given that the supercharger runs on a separate cooling loop, that would present separate issues.

“Somebody will do it,” mused Cowland. “It won’t be us.”

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The V-10 is actually a relatively low-profile engine, Cowland said, and considering its stout low end, remains the best fit for the Viper, in all ways. Interestingly, the Viper and SRT Hellcat do already share one major powertrain component: their manual transmission. In the Challenger SRT Hellcat it gets an additional external oil cooler, however.

Of course, one engine bay that might fit the Hellcat’s engine is that of the Charger four-door. For now, Cowland deflected a reply on that possibility.

So for now, there will be a Hellcat and there will be a Viper. And with either, there’s definitely no lack of performance burn and bite.

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