Dodge Demon: An unhinged 840-hp dragster in civilian clothes
After one of the longest teases in history, Dodge has unchained the Demon in New York. As predicted, it's one of the wildest production cars ever created, with 840 hp (626 kW) being put to a set of drag radials. It'll match the Tesla Model S P100D off the line, and makes the Hellcat look leisurely over the quarter-mile thanks to a focus previously unseen in muscle cars. Meet the new king of all-American performance.
There are so many crazy details on the Demon it's hard to focus on just one, but lets start with the thing that defines any good muscle car: what's under the hood. The engine is a supercharged HEMI V8 making 840 hp (626 kW) of power on race fuel and 808 hp (603 kW) on regular pump gas. Peak torque is pegged at 770 lb.ft (1,044 Nm) in race tune, and 717 lb.ft (972 Nm) on the stuff you'll find at the local BP.
This power, coupled with a glut of chassis changes we'll talk about shortly, makes for some serious figures on the drag strip. From standstill, the Demon will hit 30 mph (48 km/h) in 1 second, 60 mph (97 km/h) in 2.3 seconds and cover the quarter mile in a staggering 9.65 seconds at 140 mph (225 km/h). For anyone playing along at home, that means the old-fashioned Dodge will keep pace with Elon Musk's maddest Model S off the line, before blowing it into the weeds in a vicious blaze of supercharged fury as the electric motors run out of puff.
Of course, getting this kind of out of the blocks performance out of something with an internal combustion engine is much, much trickier than it is when you're working with batteries and motors. Dodge has rifled through the trick bag to unlock this degree of performance from the Challenger, and created the most focused production muscle car we've ever seen in the process.
The engine is based on the already-bonkers donk from the Hellcat, but engineers have fitted a bigger supercharger (2.7 vs 2.4 liters) and cranked the boost up to 14.5 psi. The redline has jumped from 6,200 to 6,500 rpm as well, and there are now two dual-stage fuel pumps in place of the single unit in the Hellcat. Suffice to say, fuel efficiency wasn't front of mind during the development process.
Keeping such a highly-strung engine cool is no mean feat, especially in a brutal drag-strip environment, forcing a set of unique solutions from Dodge. Keen-eyed readers will notice the huge hood scoop on the Demon – the largest fitted to any production car – but that alone wasn't enough, so there's also an intake integrated into the driver-side headlamp that's said to deliver a 30°F (16°C) drop in engine temperature.
On top of that, engineers then turned the car's air conditioner into an engine-bay cooler. The PowerChiller diverts air-con refrigerant from the interior to the heat exchangers in the supercharger when the driver selects the most focused drive mode, helping the engine run at full power in almost any weather. Dodge likens it to creating a little pocket of Alaska under the hood, while your rivals are forced to breath soupy Florida air.
Getting the most from the HEMI in the Demon will require 100 octane race fuel, but the car can also be run on regular pump gas. If they've managed to secure some race-ready jungle juice, the owner can switch the engine map to its most powerful using a switch on the dashboard, at which point the engine is pumping out the full 840 hp. The car can detect when fuel quality drops and automatically switch to a more conservative tune if the driver forgets what's in the tank, thanks to a set of sophisticated knock sensors.
Power is put to the road through a reworked take on the eight-speed automatic from the Hellcat. Engineers have improved the transmission's torque multiplication, and stall speed has been raised by a useful 11 percent, but these changes pale in comparison to the TransBrake function. Dodge says the Demon will be the first production car to be fitted with this feature, which will lock the transmission output shaft as the driver builds the revs to 2,350 RPM on the start line. Usually, building the revs up like this would overpower the brakes, but the TransBrake system allows you to keep them in the optimum range without actually sending any power to the wheels. Only when the driver is ready to go will the output shaft engage, sending the car on its way.
Working with the Torque Reserve system, which closes the supercharger bypass valve and modifies the spark advance to maintain peak boost while sitting on the start line, the TransBrake ensures the car is making more than 8 psi of boost at launch and pre-loads the driveline, removing any possible slack when the light turns green. This all sounds complex, and there's no doubt the Demon is smarter than the average muscle car, but you wouldn't necessarily know from behind the wheel. Drivers just press the right buttons, floor the throttle and hold on tight as 840 frantic horsepower are deployed. Sounds like fun to us.
As you may have gathered, harnessing this fury is a task too tall for regular road tires, so Dodge has teamed up with Nitto on a set of road-legal radials. The car comes standard with NT05R rubber measuring 315/40 at all four corners, although devout dragsters can swap the fronts for skinny drag-strip appropriate units if they desire.
The sticky rubber is attached to lightweight 18-inch wheels, hooked up to a Bilstein Adaptive Damping setup designed specifically for drag racing. Softer springs and lighter, hollow sway bars improve weight transfer, forcing the car's considerable mass onto the rear wheels at launch for maximum grip. They also make the Demon capable of popping a decent wheelie, with the front wheels capable of leaping up to 0.89 meters (2.92 feet) off the ground.
We have no doubt a strict diet and exercise regime also helps in this regard. Removing the passenger seat saves 58 pounds (26 kg) alone, while dropping the audio system cuts another 24 pounds (13 kg). All up, the Demon is a whopping 232 pounds (105 kg) lighter than the Hellcat, although it isn't exactly super-light: even with the diet program, curb weight is still 4,280 pounds (1,941 kg).
From the outside there's no missing the changes Dodge has made to the Demon. It's wider than the Hellcat, and the giant hood scoop is also a giveaway. Add the chunky drag tires to the mix, and you've got a seriously purposeful machine, albeit one that doesn't deviate too far from the basic Challenger formula.
The changes are even more pronounced inside, where there's only one seat. A four-point harness is optional, locking the driver in place as they stare at the new 200 mph speedometer. The driver also has a huge array of performance stats to drink in through the central touchscreen, and a few new buttons on the center console. Things might be lonely inside, but at least you'll be able to run away from your abandonment issues at record pace.
There's no doubt the Demon is, well, a dinosaur in 2017. Internal combustion is being fast overtaken as the weapon of choice for crazy straight-line figures, as Tesla and Rimac work to perfect their software. I have no doubt devotees to the Church of Elon will flood the comments mentioning this fact. But to write off the Demon because it takes an old-fashioned approach to performance would completely miss the point of crazy machines like this. Dodge has gone to extraordinary lengths to create a performance monster, and we have to applaud its efforts. Petrol power will die eventually, but cars like this prove it won't be going quietly into the night.
Just 3,300 examples of the Demon will be built. Each owner will get a crate full of tools with their car, and a day at Bondurant Driving School is also included in the unspecified list price. The car was released ahead of the New York Auto Show, where it will be on display for the next two weeks. If you can't make it to the Big Apple, check out the Demon in the video below.
Source: Fiat Chrysler