Cars

Dodge Flexes Muscles with 2019 Challenger R/T Scat Pack Widebody

DETROIT — I test drove something special a few weeks ago. It was a 2019 Dodge Challenger R/T Scat Pack Widebody. According to Dodge, “it is a drag-oriented, street legal muscle car designed with the grassroots drag racer in mind.”

Further, it had the body of the 717 horsepower Dodge Hellcat without the supercharger. That’s where the wide body moniker comes from. I’d say it was thick with oversized muscular body colored wheel flares, a black performance spoiler on the edge of the trunk, dual vents in the hood, a rocking mango paint job and 20-inch Devil’s rim forged aluminum (black) wheels. And that was for starters.

First, let’s get to the brass tacks of the matter. The R/T Scat Pack had a 485 horsepower normally aspirated Hemi V8 under the hood that made 475 pound-feet of torque. An eight-speed automatic transmission is available but I opted for the six-speed manual gearbox.

If you care one wit about gas mileage, this is not the car for you.

The manual can get from zero to 60 mph in four seconds; the automatic can do it in a couple of tenths of a second faster. Still, I’ll take the manual because of the increased fun factor and the added control over the powertrain.

Dodge said the Challenger R/T Scat Pack comes with the 8.4-inch Uconnect touchscreen that enables the driver to engage Launch Control and Line Lock within the Performance Control app. It also lets the driver select modes, including Drag Mode and Adaptive Damping Suspension.

This was a car not to be toyed with. It was powerful, precise and persnickety. I was always careful with the accelerator. It would have been easy to lose the backend of this rear-wheel-drive full-sized coupe.

And though full size, the back seats were more like those you’d find in a GT. I got in the back seat and found head room a little snug, forget about three passengers, those seats were meant for two and leg room wasn’t that great either. But this car was meant for two, at most, road warriors.

Yes, it had some creature comforts: heated and cooled front seats, a heated steering wheel, blind spot alert, rear view camera, keyless entry, push button start-stop, Bluetooth, satellite radio, voice controls, a $1,600 18-speaker premium audio system, the widebody package which featured 20-inch wheels, six-piston brake calipers, an adaptive damping suspension, performance shift indicator, competition suspension, widebody fender flares, ambient lighting, leather trimmed seats, a power sunroof and more.

The Scat Pack had a black interior with thick cushiony leather framed seats. Sight lines were great. It was quiet, with the hum of a powerful V8 engine, the clutch did not wear me out and the car could cruise you right into a speeding ticket.

But the 2019 Dodge Challenger Scat Pack was a track car in street-car sheet metal. It had an SRT-tuned adaptive damping suspension with drag mode, line lock, transbrake, torque reserve and extreme-duty 41-spline half shafts.

With standard gear, the Scat Pack comes with a driver’s seat only to help reduce weight; give them a buck and they’ll give you the front passenger seat and the rear seats.

It also had specially developed Nexen SUR4G Drag Spec 275/40R20 street-legal drag radial tires that deliver maximum grip and offer repeatable quarter-mile times.

According to Dodge, the quarter-mile (1,320 feet) elapsed time of 11.7 seconds at 115 mph makes the showroom-stock 2019 Dodge Challenger R/T Scat Pack the fastest naturally aspirated, street-legal muscle car on the market.

A new interpretation of the legendary Dodge Super Bee logo, the “Angry Bee,” marks the front fenders, illuminated Air catcher headlamps, instrument panel and startup splash screen in the gauge cluster, it’s startling at first.

For the mortals among us, there was a drive mode button that controlled traction, suspension and steering. Each of those settings had three more settings: track, sport and street. There was also a launch control button. None of this I used, it was too much fun just driving the car in automatic drive mode.

Interestingly, with all if its brute power, the 2019 Dodge Challenger R/T Scat Pack Widebody was easy to drive. You could drive it every day. But I’d opt for dry pavement; garaging it in the winter months.

With a base price of $38,995 it was a bargain. But the price can climb depending on the options you opt for. My test vehicle was $55,550. Still, I didn’t think the test car was overpriced.

Frank S. Washington is editor of AboutThatCar.com.

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