Search Cars for Sale

2019 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat Redeye: First Drive Review

There seems to be no end to the Hellcat variations that performance nerds in Dodge’s SRT division can craft when properly motivated, as evidenced by the new 2019 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat Redeye. Although re-tuned, the engine from the limited-production Demon now calls the Hellcat Redeye home. Apparently a few Mopar loyalists, who ponied up 85 grand or more for the Demon, are calling foul, but in addition to the supercharged Hemi V8 providing go for the Hellcat Redeye (tuned to deliver 10 fewer horsepower than in the Demon running on premium gasoline), a couple dozen other Demon features made the cut.

With Dodge and Chrysler basically ignored in FCA’s recently-announced five-year plan, Dodge product planners are left to do more with less. We can expect to see more muscle-car variants from Dodge as it scrambles to keep things fresh, relevant and, if we’re lucky, performance-driven. In the Hellcat Redeye, they cherry-picked a few elements of the highly sought-after Demon, infusing that drag-strip DNA into a high-performance two-door that is quite serviceable as an everyday driver. It’s a marriage made in muscle-car heaven.

When it goes on sale late this fall, Dodge will offer the Hellcat Redeye in regular width, as well as in Widebody with fender flares allowing for 1.5-inch wider wheels and rubber.

The Big Bad’s Influence

The first production car to lift wheels at launch, the Challenger SRT Demon was a limited-edition asphalt chomper that, although street legal, was engineered primarily for the track. It churned out a maximum of 840 hp when operating on race fuel (807 hp normally), while delivering a whopping 770 lb-ft of peak torque at 4500 rpm. It launched from a standstill to 60 miles per hour in 2.3 seconds with a 9.65-second quarter mile. In short, it remains the fastest, most powerful production car ever.

Thanks primarily to Demon’s 6.2-liter supercharged Hemi V8, the new Hellcat Redeye is currently the quickest muscle car, clocking the 0-to-60 run in 3.4 seconds. The top speed is 203 mph, while the quarter-mile sprint takes 10.8 seconds in the Redeye Widebody and 11.1 seconds in the regular Redeye. But, the Demon influence doesn’t stop there. Also making the migration to the Hellcat Redeye is Demon’s launch technology, referred to as Torque Reserve, that delivers up to 3.9 psi of boost at launch and up to 55 percent more engine torque.

All Hellcats, including Redeye, now get the Demon’s After-Run Chiller that keeps the engine fan and circuit-cooling pump running after shutdown. Redeye, however, is the only Hellcat to also get Demon’s SRT Power Chiller that uses the air-conditioning system to cool the air coming into the engine. A stronger steel prop shaft and upgraded 41-spline half shafts imported from the Demon also increase torque capacity.

Creating 18 percent greater airflow, air reaches the engine through the new dual snorkel hood that’s directly sealed to a larger intake box, a driver-side Air Catcher headlamp and an inlet near the wheel liner.

Let the Big Dog Eat

A somewhat larger supercharger labors in the Redeye versus other Hellcats: 2.7 liters (largest of any production car) versus 2.4 liters. Additionally, the Redeye’s fuel-injection system uses two fuel pumps as opposed to one in other Hellcat versions. Despite all the chaos under the hood, government estimates put fuel economy at 13 mpg in the city and 22 mpg on the highway. Filling the 18.5-gallon fuel tank requires premium fuel, which, when operating the engine at full throttle, empties in 11 minutes.

No 6-speed manual for the Redeye. Transferring Redeye’s 797 hp and 707 lb-ft of torque to the rear wheels falls to the ZF-sourced 8-speed automatic transmission found in other Chrysler products. According to Challenger SRT vehicle development manager Jim Wilder, the 8-speed is the same one used in other models, requiring no significant modifications to handle the engine’s extra power and torque. The Redeye’s 6500 rpm limit is 300 rpm more than the regular Hellcat.

Six-piston Brembo grabbers operate on 15.5-in rotors up front and four-piston Brembo calipers work on 13.8-in rotors in the rear.

What’s New?

Beyond the above-mentioned larger supercharger, the Redeye shares 24 other major component upgrades with the Demon when compared to other Hellcat versions. They include strengthened connecting rods and pistons, high-speed valve train and an improved lubrication system, among others. A close look reveals a jeweled red eye in the Hellcat badge. All Hellcats get the new dual snorkel hood.

Piloting This Monster

Whether you are putzing around town running errands or humiliating competitors on a track, the Hellcat Redeye holds your attention with its throaty exhaust and tendency to buck like a thoroughbred coming out of the starting gate whenever you tap the accelerator with a bit too much enthusiasm. We sampled a bit of everything while driving the Redeye on a recent media launch of the entire 2019 Dodge Charger SRT lineup in Maine. What we learned was that you can’t let your eye stray from the ball for even a second.

Clocking some 150 miles over winding roads that eventually took us to Club Motorsports, a new road-course track in Tamworth, New Hampshire, we had a taste of what it must be like to try to rein in a runaway locomotive. This car wants to flat out go. That wasn’t the issue, however. The issue was that we wanted it to go. Concentration was everything in not letting that little devil on our shoulder allow us to relax, suddenly catapulting us to some speedometer reading well in excess of the speed limit. It only requires a second or two.

Contributing to the speeding issue is that this is one comfortable, well-sorted automobile. Sure, the exhaust does its job reminding you that there is something fierce under the hood, but nearly every other thing you touch or see projects the impression that this is just a really nice two-door. In fact, you can even jazz it up with a sunroof, Nappa leather seating or an 18-speaker Harman Kardon Surround Sound system. The ride is remarkably comfy and the steering responsive.

Where you don’t need to worry so much about forgetting the evil lurking around you is on the track. Club Motorsports is a 15-turn, 2.5-mile track built into the side of a mountain. Probably more comfortable on a drag strip, the Hellcat Redeye didn’t seem to care that this was a track with some elevations and turns. It eagerly went about the business of turning laps with little drama. In experienced hands, it will perform brilliantly on a road course.

Dancing With the Devil

Getting into the regular body, Hellcat Redeye will set you back $72,745, including a $1,700 Gas Guzzler Tax and a $1,395 factory delivery charge. Going for the Widebody Package with its wider wheels and tires will add another $6,000 to the bottom line.

Last Call

With "all performance all the time" apparently the mantra of Dodge product planners and engineers these days, particularly those with SRT embroidered on their shirts, the 2019 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat Redeye makes perfect sense. But, despite its civilized road manners, available technology and comfortable cabin, its potential can only safely be tested on a track. Well, unless you have access to an abandoned runway. All we’re saying is, if you pony up 80 large for this beast, you should understand that you’ll be spending a lot of money on performance you will probably never get to tap.

To gain access to this information, Autotrader attended an event sponsored by the vehicle’s manufacturer.

Find a Dodge Challenger for sale

Sign up for Autotrader newsletters

The best cars and best deals delivered to your inbox

Email Address 

By subscribing, you agree to our privacy policy

Where You Can Buy

Loading dealers...

Leave a Comment

Russ Heaps
Russ Heaps is an author specializing in automotive, financial and travel news. For nearly 35 years he has covered the automotive industry for newspapers, magazines and internet websites. His resume includes The Palm Beach Post, Miami Herald, The Washington Times and numerous other daily newspapers through syndication. He edited Auto World magazine, and helped create and edit NOPI Street... Read More

Most Popular Articles

2020 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid: First Look

The 2020 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid jumps to the head of the hybrid class.

Best Truck Deals: June 2021

These are the best deals on trucks for the month of June.

Search By Style

More Articles Like This