Ever since the beginning of the year, MOPAR fans around the world have been waiting for the launch of the fastest Challenger ever produced. The Demon ended up being an 840 horsepower shock to the world by setting a quarter-mile lap time of 9.65 seconds.
That performance is available straight from the factory floor, assuming you use 110-octane race gas and have a little practice. But how much practice do you need to be fast in the Demon? What’s the Demon like to live with outside the drag strip? We spent a very short day in one to try to find out.
Obviously the Demon was designed for the race track. In addition to the horsepower, the car comes with barely-street-legal drag slicks, cheater wheels for the front, the first-ever-to-a-production-car Transbrake, and a serious weight-loss. It’s still a big Challenger at 4,300 pounds, but it’s hardly much of a Challenger anymore.
Except for where it is. The seats are straight from any other SRT product, though they lose some of the power adjustability and ventilation. The steering wheel, while wrapped in God’s fabric, is straight from the Hellcat. Heck, there’s even a full version of Uconnect with Android Auto and Apple Car Play support, plus some unique Demon track apps.
It turns out that it takes just a few runs to figure out how to launch the Demon without dying, though it still takes skill to put down some serious numbers. The Transbrake is the fastest way down the strip, but Drag mode disables all the electronic nannies. A millimeter of pedal travel separates you from doing an awesome time and spinning the tires at the launch.
Our best quarter-mile pass was a blisteringly quick 10.7 seconds. A street car with a license plate can hit 10s with virtually anybody behind the wheel. That’s impressive.
Also impressive that the track time was non-stop. When one journalist finished their stint, another journalist climbed in. There was virtually no rest for the cars, putting the car’s cooling system to task. See, the A/C is used to cool the engine when it’s not running down the strip.
It might look like a regular Challenger on the outside, but it’s state-of-the-art under the hood.
But outside of the drag strip, is it any good?
The Demon they had set up for us to drive on the street was fully-loaded, including a $5,000 sunroof equipped that I’m not sure why anyone would buy. The car had the rear seats and passenger seat installed. It, however, did have the 110-octane in the tank, and you can run in full 840-horsepower mode with the red key even if you aren’t in drag mode.
Driving down the road it feels like a Challenger. I know, shocking. But it really doesn’t feel like it’ll rip your face off as soon as you put your foot to the floor. There’s less sound dampening in the Demon, so it’s a bit louder on the road. Also, there’s a tiny hint more NVH (Noise, Vibration, and Harshness) in the Demon than there is in a normal Hellcat.
If anything, it all makes the supercharger whine louder in the cockpit, which is what you want.
Putzing around a sleepy village in western Michigan nobody would really have any idea that this Challenger is the Demon. Yes, it’s wider than a normal car, and MOPAR fans will tell the difference, but it surely doesn’t look like a car that’ll wipe the floor with a Bugatti Veyron.
That’s the appeal of the Challenger Demon. On the road it’s faster than anything.
But as a daily driver, I’m having a hard time to see the point of the car over the Hellcat. The Challenger Hellcat does like 90% of what the Demon will do, especially on the street. Plus it has a few more creature comforts that you’ll enjoy everyday. Since the Hellcat isn’t limited production, you can even get one at, or below, sticker.
At the end of the day it’s what I’d buy. Unless you’re planning on collecting the car, or you are going to take it to the drag strip regularly, the Challenger Hellcat is the better daily-driven choice. Plus remember, the Challenger Hellcat is available with a manual transmission, if that’s your sort of thing.
The Challenger Demon is epic. I love it to pieces. If I could afford one I’d definitely put it in my garage. I just hope the people who do buy them end up driving them instead of putting them away to gather dust. All of the engineering and technology in the car, which hopefully makes its way to other Dodge vehicles, is awe-inspiring and something that needs to be experienced.
It’s also as easy-to-drive as any other Dodge product. The future is a wonderful place.