Posted by Pat Devereux at 10:57AM Tuesday 06 May, 2008 Just got back home after driving the SRT-8 Challenger at Willow Springs Raceway and I've got a few things to add to the story you'll see in the May's Top gear magazine. When I wrote that, we had only had a relatively sedate drive in the car, which was more of a pre-production model. Now I've had an unlimited blast in the later SRT-8 Challenger on the canyons above LA and on this old, fast raceway, I've got to know the car a lot better and, it's fair to say, I like it. It's not perfect - the seats are too short to support your thighs properly, and you could lose a country in the gap between second and third gears - but other than some other very minor grumbles, it goes like a train. I even got to like the interior, which isn't fabulously authentic but screwed together so well, it feels like it'll last. That's progress. But the really write-home point that quickly became clear yesterday was just how well this car handles at all speeds. Yes, it's got some slack in the suspension to mop up bumps on the road, but once it's settled, you can steer just as much with the throttle as you can with the wheel. Not in the guns 'n' glory style of the cart-sprung Mustang, but in a way that's not apparent in any other muscle car I've ever driven. I was expecting it to be all show and then get badly out of shape at the track. That just didn't happen. We were hitting almost 130mph on the entrance to the monstrous Turn 8, but the 4,000lb+ Challenger was happy to take the abuse for as long as we cared to hand it out. If you tried to do that in most production Mustangs, they'd still be picking up the pieces in a year. It's not that the Mustang's not huge fun - it is. It's just that the Challenger is miles better. This isn't down to expensive components, even though it does have independent rear suspension and some big-name bits like the Brembo brakes and Goodyear F1 tyres. It's how the engineers have tuned it all that really makes the difference. The bits we never talk about, like the bushings and the springs and the aerodynamics. And the people. The SRT-8 Challenger chassis was developed by a team led by Erich Heuschele. Erich is clearly petrol-powered and was probably an engine in a previous life. The way he describes how he got this big, heavy car to top 170mph and corner like something half the size and weight is like listening to your best mate describing a big night out. The Challenger reeks of that kind of enthusiasm, which inspires you to enjoy it not just on the outside for the killer looks, but also the inside too, where it counts. No question, this is the new benchmark muscle car.