Thanks to Dodge, a 700-horsepower car isn’t the rare occurrence it once was. Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (Dodge’s parent company) sells five models with versions of the company’s supercharged 6.2-liter V-8 above that lofty threshold. One of the latest transplant recipients is the 2021 Dodge Charger Hellcat Redeye, a 797-hp speedball of nostalgia and excess.
A 707-hp Charger Hellcat already existed, but what makes this version special is the Redeye engine’s 90 extra horsepower. To make the extra power, the Redeye has a larger 2.7-liter twin-screw supercharger that produces 14.5 psi of boost. Regular Hellcats make do with a 2.4-liter supercharger and 11.6 psi of boost. The Redeye’s redline is also higher, 6500 rpm compared to 6200 rpm, and to properly feed the beast, it has two fuel pumps instead of one. Somewhat predictably, we averaged 13 mpg. Internal changes include stronger connecting rods and pistons, a stouter valvetrain, and increased oiling capability. To survive the power, the Redeye’s drivetrain receives strengthened componentry as well, including, according to Dodge, a 15-percent stronger driveshaft and 20-percent stronger axles.
At the track, the Charger Hellcat Redeye proved to be the quickest rear-wheel-drive Hellcat variant we’ve ever tested. It hammered to 60 mph in 3.5 seconds, three tenths quicker than the last Challenger Hellcat Redeye we tested and only one tenth off the acceleration of the Ford Mustang Shelby GT500. Patience and a delicate right foot are required to avoid turning the Redeye’s Pirellis into fusilli. Carefully roll into the throttle, avoid matting it until the transmission shifts to second, and it’s possible to beat the Redeye’s launch-control system. The century mark takes just 7.5 seconds to reach, a supercar-worthy time for a 4654-pound sedan.
Keep the accelerator pinned, and the Redeye hits the quarter-mile mark in 11.5 seconds at 126 mph, a mere two tenths behind the 483-pound lighter GT500’s 11.3 second time at 132 mph. On a hot day the Redeye’s SRT Power Chiller, an A/C evaporator that’s plumbed into the intercooler, will reduce intake temps by a claimed 40 degrees. In 70-to-zero-mph braking, the Redeye bettered that same Charger Hellcat by seven feet with a near-sports-car-like stop of 155 feet.
Select the suspension’s Normal setting, and the ride remains on the daily-driver side of stiff. Switching to the more aggressive settings takes you right into bouncy and harsh territory. Steering feel isn’t the Charger’s strong suit, although the effort does ramp up as you move off center. Widebody means wide tires, and the 305-section-width tires provide 0.93 g of grip on the skidpad, which is right in line with the last Charger Hellcat Widebody we tested.
Largely unchanged since 2011, the Charger offers a Carbon and Suede Interior Package ($1,595) that adds an Alcantara headliner, as well as carbon-fiber accents that surround almost the entire dashboard and the area around the gear selector. Cheap materials still linger, but the instrument panel is wrapped in leather, and the door panels have soft-touch materials and more leather. The leather BarcaLounger-like seats are quite comfortable over long distances, but Dodge puts them high off the floor, at an almost crossover-like height. A more aggressive seat would be more in keeping with the Redeye’s potential. Cars with this much horsepower usually have seats that are more Le Mans than La-Z-Boy.
Now that all Hellcat-powered Chargers come with the fender-flared widebody, there’s little that differentiates the Redeye. Spotters will have to look for the larger hood scoop and relocated vents flanking the scoop. Other than the hood, there’s a bedazzled jewel in the eye of the Hellcat logo that serves as another warning to anyone that lines up next to you at a light. There’s real joy in a car that turns every stoplight into a potential race. Driving to the office becomes silly, fun, and exiting. This car makes you laugh. This car is special.
Dodge charges for the experience. Our test car’s total price came out to an eye-watering $90,060. Pass on a few options such as our test car’s 19-speaker Harman/Kardon audio system ($1,995), navigation and XM radio ($995), a power sunroof ($1,995), and black brake calipers ($595), and the price is still high but slightly less painful $82,885. To paraphrase Lee Iacocca, “If you can find a cheaper 797-horsepower car, buy it.”
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