Jalopnik First Drive - Dodge Challenger R/T and SRT8 manual

Discussion in 'OT Driven' started by TriShield, Aug 20, 2008.

  1. TriShield

    TriShield Super Moderator® Super Moderator

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    The 2009 model year takes the Challenger from a low-volume quasi-halo muscle car to a full lineup of three separate trim levels, each with their own engine flavor. The base model SE starts at $21,995, getting a 3.5-liter High Ouput V6 producing 250 HP and an equal number of lb-ft of torque. The top model's still the SRT8, at a starting price of $39,995 and powered by the reliable and huge 6.1-liter Hemi V8 with 425 HP and 420 lb-ft of torque. The middle-of-the-pack R/T hits the showroom floor at a starting price of $29,995 and comes with the 5.7-liter Hemi engine under the hood, producing either 370 HP and 398 lb-ft of torque (when running on premium fuel) or 375 HP and 404 lb-ft of torque, depending on which transmission it's mated to.

    Wait, what? Multiple transmissions? Yes muscle car fans, it's what two of these models' engines are mated to that'll give Jalopnik readers cause for celebration. Both the R/T and the SRT8 get an optional Tremec T6060 six-speed manual transmission ported from the Dodge Viper. The option's only available on the Hemi-fied R/T and SRT8 versions, so if you want the V6-powered SE, you'll only end up getting a four-speed automatic. Pity.

    The R/T gets another couple of nice features as part of the $995 "Track Pack" manual package — a Hill-start Assist (which was a very nice feature on some of the hills around our drive through New Jersey), a limited-slip differential (the SRT8 gets the LSD standard) and a tuned exhaust system (SRT8 manual gets this as well) that sounds great in the lower gears.

    On the road, both the manual Challenger R/T and the Challenger SRT8 felt much more satisfying to drive. Thanks to the auto-only multi-displacement technology, the R/T in both auto-stick and manual transmission models get 16 MPG in the city and 25 MPG on the highway. The 2009 SRT8 gets the same piss-poor 13 MPG city, 19 MPG highway as the 2008 model, but the manual transmission at least gives you an extra mile in the city and an extra three on the highway thanks to that very helpful sixth gear.

    Setting aside the benefits of the manual on the road, it's the track where it really becomes useful. Although the 2008 SRT8's automatic transmission had a +/- gate auto-stick mode, I really felt it to be too gimmicky for anything other than making a businessman feel like he was the big man at a stoplight. It's certainly not a transmission you'll feel comfortable using anywhere other than a drag strip — at least not if you want to keep your dignity and control safely intact. Which is why we were excited to hit the Englishtown track. Thanks to coning designed to keep drivers like me from becoming a smear on a wall, I didn't even get the car out of second or third gear on the track. Unfortunate for me, yes, but quite fortunately for the Challenger's clutch plates.

    Still, despite the aggressive coning, the smooth clutch gave me greater confidence, and the pistol-grip shifter available with the "Track Pack" felt more comfortable in my hand than the original 70's it's kinda-sorta modeled after. But, a manual shifter alone doesn't make a track car.

    The Challenger's still a fatty, as we found when we scrubbed the front tires on the first too-tight turn at speed around the Englishtown course in the R/T and later on in the course with an SRT8. Thanks to the RWD platform, with the nanny system turned all the way off, you're still able to steer with your right foot, just like the 2008 Challenger SRT8 and every other LX-platformed SRT8 and R/T.

    So which of the three, if any, is the right choice for you? Sorry Spinelli, but it's certainly not the SE. The automatic transmission and low horsepower mated to a heavy RWD car ensure this will compete not for our attention, but with Midwestern hairdressers as the car of choice to replace their V6 Mustang.

    If you're a muscle car madman needing a 0-to-60 time of five seconds, you'll probably want the SRT8, as Dodge estimates the R/T's time to be somewhere just under six seconds. Sure, you could beat the pants off the SRT8 in a straight-line with a Shelby GT500, but it'll cost you significantly more and I'm not sure it'll take to the track any better.

    Still, despite the SRT8's bigger engine, we're not sure the 30% higher sticker price justifies the 10% higher horsepower. In our mind, if you want a modern muscle car, the R/T may be right in the sweet spot. In terms of looks, you'll get the same (maybe more with the double-black hood stripes and functional hood scoop of the "Classic" package) double-takes as its stronger brother, the same horrifyingly plastic interior, and you'll do it for a much cheaper sticker price and an almost 20% higher fuel economy rating.

    Either way, whether you choose an R/T or an SRT8, you'll still get a Challenger with a manual transmission. Like we said, 2009's better than 2008 by at least one-third.

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  2. SilverTurtle

    SilverTurtle New Member

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    viva la muscle car!
     
  3. SinisterHand

    SinisterHand Active Member

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    First? :x:




    Edit: Fail. :wtc:
     
  4. Original

    Original OT Supporter

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    mother of god.

    hot hot hot
     
  5. amac88

    amac88 New Member

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    I WANT!!
     
  6. Smelly-Kitten

    Smelly-Kitten Dept. of Redundancy Department *Side Pipes

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    Shifter knob looks like a dildo with reverse being the wrong way - would own though! Needs a heavy cam
     
  7. you know me

    you know me OT where the douchbags play

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    why do i just keep having to add cars to my "maybe my next car list"
     
  8. art_VW_shark

    art_VW_shark OT Supporter

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    Dear Dodge,


    Thank you in advance for every Challenger I will see on the road.
     
  9. 04JETTA

    04JETTA OT Supporter

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  10. viper922

    viper922 New Member

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    eat this chevy!!!!
     
  11. you know me

    you know me OT where the douchbags play

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    see also:
    gto, g8, Camaro
     
  12. NEp8ntballer

    NEp8ntballer New Member

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    for the 10 grand between the price of the RT and SRT8 you could properly invest in enough go fast parts to spank the shit out of a stock SRT8...
     
  13. CJPA

    CJPA New Member

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    All are beautiful but not as fast as a Mustang GT :o
     
  14. BlueApocalypse

    BlueApocalypse New Member

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    GT has too much ass. :hsd:
     
  15. CJPA

    CJPA New Member

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    Put it side by side w/ a Challenger and it'll look like an asian ass
     
  16. Mitchj

    Mitchj OT Supporter

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    when inside line ran the SRT8 down the dragstrip, it was doing high 13's.

    Thats significantly slower then the G8 GT, let alone the GXP.
     
  17. you know me

    you know me OT where the douchbags play

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    ass is like money, you can never have enough
     
  18. CJPA

    CJPA New Member

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    WOMP WOMMMMMMMP
     
  19. Smelly-Kitten

    Smelly-Kitten Dept. of Redundancy Department *Side Pipes

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    went from 14.0's with the auto to 13.8's. Awesome, now we can beat up on some of those 90's sports cars!
     
  20. Mitchj

    Mitchj OT Supporter

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    :werd:

    but it is very big and heavy.

    Auto '362hp' g8's run... what, 13.5?

    The gxp should run 13.1 if the aussie tests are any indication
     
  21. Smelly-Kitten

    Smelly-Kitten Dept. of Redundancy Department *Side Pipes

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    Big and heavy is a understatement, this car is a coup people! WTF.

    03/04 Cobra was/is a heavy bastard. 390hp compared to the SRT-8's 425 and it runs a full second and a half quicker (http://www.musclemustangfastfords.com/features/mmfp_0611_cobra_vs_shelby_gt500/index.html). And this is almost 6 years old.
     
  22. urbnkitten

    urbnkitten New Member

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    For $40k :bowrofl:
     
  23. Mitchj

    Mitchj OT Supporter

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    i wouldn't call any mustang heavy. Those old cobra's were under 3500lbs wern't they?

    And, they are a supercharged motor, torque curve is far more important than peak power.
     
  24. vudoodoodoo

    vudoodoodoo New Member

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  25. Smelly-Kitten

    Smelly-Kitten Dept. of Redundancy Department *Side Pipes

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    the IRS made 'em heavy, around 3700 lbs.
     

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