707 horsepower. Seven. Hundred. Seven. Horsepower.

It’s an entire 19th century town’s worth of productive capacity. And it all lives under the hood of the 2015 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat.

That power comes from the centerpiece of the Hellcat’s appeal: the 6.2-liter supercharged HEMI V-8. While the standard black key fob only unlocks 500 horsepower of the big HEMI’s potential, breaking out the red key fob brings all 707 hp to bear.

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

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

With that much power and the Challenger’s decidedly muscle car bent otherwise, you might think the Hellcat is a one-trick pony. You’d be nearly right.

In reality, the Hellcat presents an amazingly balanced persona, bulging biceps aside.

As Bengt Halvorson pointed out in Motor Authority’s first drive of the Challenger Hellcat, “We’d rate the SRT Hellcat’s drivability above either the Ford Mustang Shelby GT500 and the Chevrolet Camaro ZL1. It’s more at ease with itself on the power, near the limits or not, than the GT500, and it’s more comfortable than the ZL1—because while the ZL1 might have it beat for suspension sophistication, the ZL1 feels claustrophobic and crude next to the Hellcat’s superb interior, quiet cabin, and sprawl-out comfort. (Yes, taller folks, you have plenty of room for a helmet in the Hellcat.)”

That’s high praise for a car that’s seemingly hell-bent on high output, shredding its Pirellis with wanton abandon at the mildest provocation.

Ultimately, however, the Hellcat makes no pretense about being a sports car. It’s all American, all muscle, all the time. It does what it does, and does it very well. And it never—ever—apologizes.  

In a field filled with refined European sports sedans and coupes, a supercar or two, and, yes, an American counterpart in the Ford Mustang, the Challenger Hellcat’s unabashed reliance on brute force and big everything is refreshing.

We think we summed it up perfectly in our first drive—even after many more hours behind the wheel:

“But really, with the Hellcat, the driving experience, the sound of the engine, and the accessibility, yet the potential to churn those tires at any instant: Well, that’s entertainment.”

Can the 2015 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat’s brusque attitude sweep the field for Motor Authority’s Best Car To Buy 2015 award? Follow our Best Car To Buy page for the latest takes on each nominee, and be sure to vote for your favorite in the poll below.

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