2011 Dodge Challenger SRT8 392
In the 21st century version of the Ponycar wars, Dodge’s Challenger has heretofore been consigned to also-ran status behind Chevrolet’s reinvigorated Camaro and Ford’s evergreen Mustang. In comparison test after comparison test, the Challenger has consistently pulled up the rear, while the Detroit Three’s other two hot coupes swapped paint, vying for the lead.
With the introduction of the 2011 Dodge Challenger SRT8 392, things have changed.
Flossing a bored and stroked version of the 6.1-liter HEMI found in previous SRT8 Challengers, this now 6.4-liter V8 also features a new active intake manifold and a high-lift camshaft. The result of all this deeper breathing is 470 horsepower and 470 ft-lbs of torque, besting Camaro by 34 horsepower and 50 ft-lbs, and Mustang by 30 horsepower and 90 ft-lbs, to become the hottest normally aspirated engine in its class. Yes, we’re aware of the supercharged Mustang GT 500, which is why we said normally aspirated.
Dodge set us loose on the NASCAR course at Infineon Raceway in California’s Sonoma County for a few hot laps where we experienced the benefits of a few more tweaks to tweet about.
The revised engine winds smoothly, has a sonorous exhaust note, and pulls very strongly. The new six-speed manual—inherited from the Viper BTW—shifts precisely, with exceptional feedback. Clutch take-up is extra smooth as well. Of course, with 470 ft-lbs of torque at your disposal, you’d have to be amazingly inept to stall the car. Dodge claims .93g, a 4.7 60 and a 12.4 quarter. And though we had no opportunity to formally confirm those numbers, the 392 we drove gave us reason to believe they are somewhat on the conservative side.
The suspension system has also been refined and makes the Challenger drive much smaller than before. The steering responds like a go-kart—turn-in is exceptionally sharp and highly accurate. The revised camber settings keep more of the tire flat on the pavement in cornering maneuvers and the new shocks and bushings do their part to keep body roll well in check.
The Challenger 392’s overall balance is also exceedingly good. You always know you’re piloting a front-engine car, but you don’t feel the engine leading you around by the nose—so to speak. Plus, steering the car out of corners with the throttle is so easy a caveman can do it. We predict the drift community will love this car.
All in all, it’s a remarkable change. The Challenger 392 is sharply focused with a great deal of responsiveness, plus more torque and horsepower than you’ll realistically ever need—and that's exactly why Sports Car Monitor is loving it!
Pricing will be $45,080 when the Dodge goes on sale next month.