2015 Dodge Charger R/T Scat Pack

25 Mar

First Drive Review

Dodge knows a good thing when it has it. And we’d argue that its 485-hp 6.4-liter Hemi V-8 is a very good thing. Dodge is making that good thing more widely available by putting it into another model—the Charger R/T, this time—and lowering the price of entry. Power to the proletariat!

“We’re now putting the 6.4 at a price point people can afford,” said Dodge exec Bob Broderdorf. “Not everyone can get a Hellcat. Not everyone can get an SRT. But we want to make sure that that performance element is there. And I think Scat Pack does that.”

Fewer Frills

We would agree. As with its coupe counterpart, the Challenger R/T Scat Pack, the Charger R/T Scat Pack is just as heavy on the power as the SRT 392 model but goes a bit lighter on the frills. Some of the SRT 392’s amenities, like leather upholstery, heated front and rear seats, a power-adjustable steering column, and HID headlamps, move to the options list. The SRT’s computer-adjustable Bilstein dampers give way to fixed-rate Bilsteins, and the front brake rotors shrink slightly to 14.2 inches with four-piston Brembo grabbers, down from the 15.4-inch/six-piston Brembos on the SRT 392. The 20-inch wheels change in design but not in diameter, although tire width drops considerably from the SRT’s 275/40 Pirelli P Zeros to 245/45 Goodyear RS-A all-seasons, with Goodyear F1 Supercar rubber optional. Styling is virtually identical, however, save for the Scat Pack’s black rear spoiler and Scat Pack grille badge.

Inside, the SRT’s rad, flat-bottom steering wheel is replaced by a so-called “performance” flat-ish-bottom wheel, which has a thick, contoured rim and perforated leather, and the gray fabric seats feature the Scat Pack bee on the front seatbacks. A unique Scat Pack “splash screen” comes on at startup in the instrument cluster, too. Best of all, the Dodge Performance Pages—and launch control—are present and accounted for. Hoping for lower weight with the (slightly) lower-rent decor? Sorry, but Dodge claims that the 4400-pound Scat Pack is only 10 pounds lighter than the SRT 392.

Light ’Em Up

Still, like the SRT 392, the Scat Pack feels spectacularly quick. From a stoplight, it remains oh-so-easy to light up the optional three-season Goodyears, skinny as they are with only 245 mm of width, though the rear end hooks up quite quickly with a more judicious application of the gas pedal. Throttle response sharpens and the transmission shifts quicken with a touch of the “Sport” button on the lower dash, and manual shifts are summoned with a tug on the zinc paddles. All the while, the Scat Pack shrieks with the same banshee wail we’ve come to love from anything wearing the SRT badge.

Dodge claims that 60 mph is attainable in the mid-to-high four-second range, with the quarter-mile mark passing in the mid-12s. We think that’s a bit coy. Oh yeah, and Dodge claims that the Charger Scat Pack can top out at 175 mph.

While our first drive was only about 40 miles, much of it took place along California’s entertaining Ortega Highway (Highway 74). From that limited exposure, we learned that the car stays quite flat around bends and holds on in corners until understeer takes over at the limit (blame the heavy Hemi for a 54/46-percent weight distribution, per Chrysler’s scales). The ride is firm, but we observed none of the brittleness of the Challenger Scat Pack models we’ve sampled before. Clearly, the sedan’s longer wheelbase has its benefits.

As in the SRT 392, steering feel is one of the Scat Pack’s best attributes, while the formidable torque makes it easy to break the rear wheels loose for some steer-with-the-rear shenanigans, although the long wheelbase ensures that the back end doesn’t come around too fast, making it eminently catchable in corners. Braking, too, is impressive, with excellent pedal feel and powerful response—Dodge claims that braking to a stop from 60 mph happens in less than 120 feet, truly impressive for a car of this size.

While the Scat Pack’s $40,990 starting price is $7390 less than the $48,380 SRT 392, adding things like a sunroof, leather upholstery, and ventilated seats can close the price gap such that you might consider springing for the grippier, better-equipped SRT 392 if you want stuff like adjustable shocks and supercar-grade brakes. Keep it simple, however, and the Charger Scat Pack is a screaming performance deal that is plenty entertaining itself.

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