Car Review: 2015 Dodge Challenger R/T Plus
When Dodge brought the Challenger back to life a few years back, the passion for this car was very high. Now with a refresh for the 2015 model year, there is even more to cheer about with the 2015 Dodge Challenger R/T Plus. We drove this beast for a week, and even though the Ohio weather wasn’t the best, we still had a great time behind the wheel.
Inspired by the iconic 1971 Challenger, all 2015 models take on a bold new appearance that draws on the 1971 model’s split-grille and split-tail lamp cues, updated to 2015 with four signature LED headlamp halo surrounds offset by piano black trim. Single projector-beam headlamps at each front corner light the road ahead. High-intensity discharge (HID) headlamps are also available.
In profile, the 2015 Challenger’s signature muscle car proportions and large thruster rear-quarter panels stand out from the crowd, while fender and belt lines tie together at the front and rear of the car to create a sleeker appearance. Nine wheel designs are available, including an all-new forged aluminum lightweight 20-by-9-inch wheel design finished in Hyper Black II, which provides a unique anodized metallic look with a flush body-side appearance. Meatier, high-performance three-season rubber is available on the Challenger R/T Scat Pack and 392 HEMI Scat Pack Shaker models. The 20-inch hyper black aluminum wheels on our test model were conversation-starters alone. This car is hot!
A new, split tail-lamp design continues the historic 1971 model’s inspiration. For a modern look, the Dodge brand’s signature LED treatment creates a single ribbon of light within each lamp. A redesigned rear valance provides the 2015 Challenger with a widened, more planted appearance, while fascia-mounted exhaust tips (with the Pentastar V-6 engine) provide a high-performance finished look.
Heritage and high-impact exterior colors range from B5 Blue and Sublime Green to TorRed. Seven different stripe options give Challenger drivers the ability to get instant customization straight from the factory.
Inside the 2015 Dodge Challenger is an all-new enthusiast-designed cockpit featuring world-class materials, execution and technology, also inspired by the interior of the 1971 Challenger. To highlight the muscle car’s performance abilities, the 2015 Dodge Challenger is designed with a performance cockpit that embodies the trapezoidal-themed exterior in an artistic and more organically styled way.
The Dodge Challenger’s new cleanly executed instrument panel features an aluminum-stamped driver’s bezel that establishes the driver’s cockpit. For a high-tech look, an innovative 7-inch TFT instrument cluster screen extends through the driver’s bezel and provides a customizable display. The gauge cluster features an analog speedometer and tachometer that straddle the TFT customizable instrument cluster and provide a heritage-inspired “tic-toc-tach” look with throwback radial numbering and concave shape. Additionally, the center stack neatly houses the new 5-inch and segment’s largest available 8.4-inch Uconnect touchscreens.
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First Drive: 2015 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat
We came out of Turn 9 into a long arc that seemed more like a straight-away at the Portland International Raceway and hit 105 mph before braking to enter Turn 10. We were driving the 2015 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat; well, we were actually riding with a professional driver to get a feel for what this Dodge Challenger could do in expert hands.
One thing was clear: this 1.9 mile, 12-turn asphalt and concrete road racing track really wasn’t configured for the likes of the 2015 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat. That is the official name for this muscle car, but look for it to be condensed to Hellcat which is a perfect fit for its personality. The car will go on sale in the third quarter.
The Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat has a 6.2-liter supercharged V8 that makes 707 horsepower and 650 pound-feet of torque. It can be mated to a six-speed manual transmission or a bulked-up eight-speed automatic transmission capable of funneling the massive torque that the engine makes to the rear wheels and onto the pavement.
At the track, we had the eight-speed automatic. The gear box didn’t matter, though; the performance of this car rivaled that of some supercars which cost 10 to 20 times more than its $60,990 base price. Some numbers have not been finalized, like the SRT Hellcat’s zero to 60 mph time, but that is expected to be in the low three seconds.
Top speed is 199 mph, the supercharger can pump 30,000 liters of air into the engine in one minute and, wide open, that engine will gulp 1.5 gallons of gasoline every 60 seconds, draining the 19.1 gallon fuel tank in 13 minutes. But driven normally, it’s been reported that the Hellcat could get 20 mpg on the highway, though official EPA numbers had not been released at the time of the test drive.
The Hellcat engine is not simply a bump-up of the last Challenger SRT powerplant. 91 percent of its parts are new. A deep-skirt, cast-iron block with cross-bolted main bearing caps, unique aluminum alloy heads with hemispherical combustion chambers and a screw-type IHI supercharger are at its core.
Dodge has managed to corral the Challenger Hellcat’s power when needed. First, the car will come with a pair of key FOBs – one red, the other black. The red one releases all of the car’s oomph, but the black one will hold output to 500 horsepower.
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First Drive: 2014 Corvette Stingray Convertible
Last summer I had the opportunity to drive the all-new 2014 Corvette Stingray on the backs roads of Monterey. It was a thrilling experience and you can read about my impressions of this amazing sports car here. The Corvette team more than met the challenge of creating the seventh-generation Corvette that would also be worthy of reviving the Stingray name. The new design is striking and the performance surpasses the already high standards achieved by the Corvette team.
With the removable hard top, any new Corvette owner can enjoy the experience of driving this great vehicle while enjoying the fresh air and beauty of the surrounding scenery. But the Corvette convertible makes that experience even more convenient of course, and I recently got to experience the thrill of driving this beast of a sports car with the top down in the mountains surrounding Palm Springs when we were invited to test drive the new convertible.
All convertibles are fun on a nice day, but the experience in the new Corvette Stingray is quite different when you consider the 455 horsepower engine with 460 lb.-ft. of torque. The Z51-equipped models are able to accelerate from 0-60 in 3.8 seconds, run the quarter-mile in 12 seconds at 119 mph, achieve 1.03g in cornering grip and stop from 60 mph in 107 feet. Factor in the incredible handling and the various drive modes, having the top down with this vehicle gives you quite an experience as you navigate the roads. I had a beautiful day in the area near Palm Springs and it was a challenge to keep my eyes on the road with the stunning scenery surrounding me.
The Corvette Stingray convertible features an all-new, fully electronic top that can be lowered remotely using the key fob. With the all-new folding mechanism the top can be lowered in just 21 seconds. For even more convenience, the top can also be opened or closed as you’re driving at speeds of up to 30 mph. I tested it at low speeds and it worked great. The Corvette is also pretty quiet when the top is up. The designers focused on luxury and comfort with this new model, and the thick fabric top, along with sound-absorbing padding and a glass rear window, contributes to a quiet cabin and premium appearance.
As you can see from the photos, this beautiful vehicle looks fantastic as a convertible with the top down. The profile view looks great along with views from all other angles. I also liked the Stingray’s signature “waterfall” design which brings the car’s exterior color into the interior in the valley between the seats.
The coupe and convertible share identical chassis tuning and performance technologies along with nearly-identical curb weights, as the only structural changes for the convertible model are limited to accommodations for the folding top and repositioned safety belt mounts. With the all-new aluminum frame structure, no structural reinforcements were needed in the convertible. You’ll sacrifice some cargo space in order the have the convenience of the convertible, and it costs $5,000 more than the coupe.
“An important goal for the team was to create a more intimate and connected driving experience for the new Corvette Stingray,” said Mike Bailey, chassis vehicle system engineer. “Because they share common chassis tuning, power-to-weight ratios and structural rigidity, the coupe and convertible feel almost identical behind the wheel.”
As I said when I reviewed the coupe, the Corvette team hit a home run with this new Stingray, and now with the convertible buyers have another great option to choose from along with the Z51 performance package. And it doesn’t end there. The Corvette team just unveiled the new 2015 Corvette ZO6 for those enthusiasts who want to take their track experiences to an even higher level. But for most buyers, the base Corvette or the Z51 will offer a driving experience that will far exceed their expectations.
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First Drive: 2014 Corvette Stingray
The buzz around the 2014 Corvette Stingray has been intense since the all-new seventh generation (C7) was unveiled earlier this year in Detroit and I couldn’t wait to get behind the wheel. I got my chance recently when Chevrolet invited me out to California to test drive this incredible new version of the iconic sports car. I drove the new Vette on long stretches of remote roads near Monterey and Carmel that offered winding paths, tight turns and inviting straightaways, and then we had the opportunity to push it even further on an autocross coarse set up for us by the Corvette team. The experience blew me away.
The executives at Chevrolet wanted to make a statement with the design of the new C7 and they obviously succeeded. The new design generated rave reviews from the moment is was unveiled as the designers created a completely new vehicle as opposed to the more incremental styling changes we saw with the C5 and C6. The Corvette team provided us with a Corvette from each of the previous six generations so we could see up close the design changes over the years.
The bold new design also moved the brand team to revive the iconic Stingray name with the new Corvette, and I certainly agree that this new model lives up to that legacy without relying on a retro design. The new design is stunning and the Corvette looks beautiful from all angles.
The most controversial design change involved the rear tail lights with a departure from the classic, rounded lights in favor of new angular lights. Some Corvette purists were disappointed, but the designers wanted a bold, new look and the result looks fantastic. The designers came up with a new look for the tail lights that work for this Corvette design, and that’s why the entire package looks so good.
The designers explained that function helped drive the design process and that the team was heavily inspired by the Corvette racing team. Every vent on the new Corvette has an important cooling function, and the beautiful curves of the new car serve important aerodynamic functions. The new Corvette Stingray shares only two parts with the previous-generation Corvette, incorporating an all-new frame structure and chassis and a new powertrain and supporting technologies.
The designers of the new Corvette made the interior a priority as well. The goal was to provide a more upscale interior to go with the bold exterior design and to enhance the driver’s connection to the Corvette. The result is a high-tech, cockpit feel coupled with a much more luxurious experience where every surface is covered with premium, soft-touch materials such as hand-wrapped leather with elegant stitching. Other highlights include carbon fiber and aluminum trim, two high-definition, configurable screens and a smaller steering wheel.
Buyers can also choose between two seating choices: a GT seat for all-around comfort and a Competition Sport seat with more aggressive side bolstering for more support on the track. By observing high-performance driving experiences, designers included a steel-reinforced grab bar on the center console for the passenger and soft-touch materials on the edge of the console where the driver naturally braces during high-load cornering.
I was in the Corvette practically all day and the level of comfort is impressive for a sports car, whether you’re cruising on the highway or powering through a tight corner. For the driver, everything is laid out nicely and the center console screen is angled towards the driver, and the driver displays vary depending on the driver mode selected.
For years the Corvette has set the standard for performance as it could stack up to exotic sports cars that cost much more. In its price range nothing has come close for years, and the new C7 continues that tradition by setting the bar even higher.
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First Open-Road Muscle Car Experience Launches
Have you ever wanted to just let loose and drive the most powerful cars on the market in the open road? Well, now is your chance with the American Muscle Car Experience! World Class Driving launched the country’s first open-road muscle car driving adventure in Las Vegas on April 1. The American Muscle Car Driving Experience invites you to get behind the wheel of supercharged hotrods like the 662 horsepower 2014 Ford Shelby GT500 and the 2014 Dodge Challenger SRT8. Get ready to rev the fiercest engines on the winding streets of Red Rock Canyon in an All-American ride like nothing else.
World Class Driving maps out Red Rock Canyon’s most thrilling roads so drivers can unleash the jaw-dropping capabilities of its high-powered muscle cars. This driving experience is available in two packages:
Red Rock Muscle Experience – Drive three muscle cars through 30 miles of the Las Vegas desert in a hair-raising, adrenaline-pumping guided tour ($299 per person).
Red Rock Muscle XL Experience – Anyone needing an extra shot of awesome can take the wheel of four muscle cars in an intense 50-mile excursion ($399 per person).
Drivers rotate automobiles periodically at checkpoints throughout the experience, learning what makes each American muscle car so different.
The top-of-the-line automobiles in the Muscle Car Fleet include:
· 2013 Shelby GT500: 662 horsepower and a 0-to-60 sprint of 3.5 seconds will make your heart race as you attack the open road in one of the most powerful Ford Mustangs ever.
· 2013 Corvette Z06: With a sleek look and astonishing performance, the Z06 combines incredible acceleration and grip with the heart and soul of an American muscle car for a distinctively thrilling ride.
· 2014 Dodge Challenger SRT8: Dodge’s newest muscle car to hit the streets features a supercharged hemi motor in the classic Challenger body with a unique “Crazy Purple” color that will turn heads on the road.
· 2014 Camaro ZL1: Immense anticipation has been built for what will be one of the hottest muscle cars on the streets. You will have the thrill to be one of the first in the country to unleash this beast through the Las Vegas desert.
World Class Driving experiences are designed to provide access to some of the world’s most exciting muscle and exotic cars in unique, open-road driving environments. Bullz-Eye.com plans on making a trip out west to find out just how incredible this driving experience can be for car guys like us.