Challenger SRT8 delights with performance, technology
BY IRA SIEGEL For Sun-Times Media November 14, 2011 11:08AM
2012 DODGE CHALLENGER SRT8
ENGINE: 470-horsepower 6.4-liter V-8
TRANSMISSION: five-speed automatic
DRIVETRAIN: rear-wheel drive
FUEL ECONOMY: 14 city/23 highway
BASE PRICE: $44,000
AS TESTED: $48,320 (includes $825 for destination)
Updated: February 8, 2012 12:21PM
The 2012 Dodge Challenger SRT8 392 is one of the most exciting rear-wheel-drive muscle cars you can get your hands on.
The “392 Hemi” badges on the front fenders let you know what’s under the hood, and that would be a 392-cubic-inch (6.4-liter) Hemi V-8 that pounds out 470 horsepower and 470 pound-feet of torque.
The torque band is extremely flat providing for quick, powerful acceleration from a dead stop that continues to pull hard throughout the rpm range.
The 2012 Dodge Challenger SRT8 392 comes standard with an impressive Tremec six-speed manual transmission and dual-disc high-performance clutch. This setup was first offered in the 2008 Dodge Viper SRT10.
A five-speed automatic is optional and it now includes steering-wheel-mounted paddle shifters along with the console-mounted auto stick gear shifter to shift the gearbox manually when desired.
Regardless of which gearbox you choose, the 2012 Dodge Challenger SRT 392 accelerates from 0-60mph in just less than five seconds and runs the quarter mile in the mid-to-high 12-second range.
Top speed is limited to 182 mph with the manual and 175 mph with the automatic. The fuel economy rating of 14/23 mpg city/highway is the same with either transmission.
The 392 uses a standard performance-tuned cold-air induction system, advanced active intake manifold and high-lift camshaft with variable-cam timing.
Models with the automatic transmission also feature a fuel saver system that allows the engine to operate economically on four cylinders, or use the power of all eight when needed.
A limited-slip rear axle is standard, but two different axle ratios are used depending on which transmission you select. Those equipped with the automatic feature a 3.06:1 axle ratio while those with the manual gearbox get a 3.91:1 ratio.
Of course I would have preferred to drive the 2012 Dodge Challenger SRT8 392 with the six-speed manual, but one with the automatic was available for testing and who was I to turn down this opportunity?
The Challenger looks great inside and out. The snazzy wheels barely hide the standard high-performance Brembo four-piston fixed brake calipers that are painted red.
My tester was shod with the optional Goodyear F1 Supercar tires (P245/45ZR20 front and P255/45ZR20 rear) in place of the standard Goodyear RSA tires (P245/45ZR20 front and rear).
The 2012 Dodge Challenger SRT8 392 offers outstanding ride and handling thanks in part to a new adaptive damping suspension system. It allows drivers to select either auto or sport mode, and the system automatically adjusts the damping rate accordingly.
The braking system is impressive, too, with a 60 to 0 mph stop in just 117 feet. Plus, the ready alert braking system anticipates when the driver quickly releases the accelerator pedal to set the brake pads against the rotors in order to decrease the time required for full brake application.
Brake fade is minimized due to cooling ducts that help direct adequate airflow to the brake assemblies.
This car is a hoot to drive. I’m surprised I didn’t get stopped by the law during my weeklong test. I just couldn’t keep from dropping the hammer.
The exhaust roar is so incredible you’re likely to hear this car long before you see it.
Adding to the fun is a standard driver-selectable electronic vehicle information center with performance pages (0-60 mph, eighth-mile, quarter-mile, braking distance and G-force meter).
With a starting price of just $44,000, the 2012 Dodge Challenger SRT8 392 seems well within reach. My greatest disappointment came when they picked up my tester.
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