A screaming, smoke-filled filing from the (almost) 800 Club
There’s an old joke: You ask, “What’s the difference between an elephant and an ant?” The mark answers, “I don’t know, what’s the difference?” You reply, “Come on, you don’t know the difference between an elephant and an ant?”
News flash: The Ferrari 812 Superfast is a much better automobile than the Dodge Challenger Hellcat Redeye. It just is. I’m mentioning this because Ferrari—like Rolls-Royce and, to a lesser extent, Lamborghini—has this infuriating prohibition against comparison tests. This forbiddance is particularly annoying because modern Ferraris are so good. This 812, the 488, both flavors of Lusso, the new Portofino—I’ve driven them all, and all are wonderful. Nine times out of 10, the prancing horse would mule-kick the competition in the teeth, and that 10th time would be close. So, to reiterate, this ain’t a comparison test, but if it were, the Ferrari stomps the Redeye like an elephant squishes an ant. Chiaro? Prego.
What are you reading then? We car freaks are either living in or just about to enter the end times as far as internal combustion engines are concerned. The automotive world is going electric, and you can’t stop progress. You can, however, toss two fourth-quarter Hail Marys to illustrate just how good our kids ain’t gonna have it.
The Superfast produces 789 horsepower, and Dodge’s super-torquey (707 lb-ft) über Hellcat generates 797 ponies. With the exception of ultra exotics like the 1,479-hp Bugatti Chiron (price tag: starts at $3 million USD), these two bellowing monsters are the most powerful street cars available for purchase. Both machines are a celebration of what we’ll miss most when they’re gone: big, loud, screaming, thumping, grin-inducing, pupil-dilating, chest-compressing, mother-loving, gasoline-burning engines.
The question then becomes, what’s it like to drive two cars that possess (within rounding errors) 800 horsepower? More fun than you’re imagining, I promise.
Since the initial Hellcat Challenger with 707 hp and 650 lb-ft of torque was released, the reviews have read essentially like this: “Great gobs of power, Batman, but what the Hellcat needs is better steering, handling, grip, and brakes. Oh—and it could lose some weight.”
To Dodge’s eternal credit, its answer to that near-unanimous, near-ubiquitous criticism: Add more power! (I love that.) Even if nothing good happens in terms of instrumented testing. The Redeye’s 0–60 time actually increases when compared to the Widebody Hellcat Challenger, and although its quarter-mile time drops by a tenth, that’s not something I’d brag about or spend money on. The figure-eight time also shaves a tenth. Braking is greatly improved—104 feet from 60 mph versus 112—so there’s that. Did I mention the Redeye is 32 pounds (14 kg) heavier than the 4,489-pound (2,036-kg) Widebody Hellcat?
The increase in trap speed is worth analyzing, as it’s an improvement of nearly 3 mph (5 km/h). That means we know that the ever-so-slightly detuned Demon engine under the wide-nostril hood is making the power but the Redeye is even more traction limited (see the 0–60 time) than its little bro. So although stoplight racing might not be the Redeye’s raison d’être, roll-on racing—say, 50 to 150 mph (80 to 241 km/h)—leaves almost nothing to be desired. Trust me.
I say “almost” because, well, I drove the 812 Superfast. Ferrari lists the top speed as 211 mph (340 km/h), which is pretty fast. But in a world filled with Koenigseggs and the aforementioned Chiron, I wouldn’t call 211 mph (340 km/h) “superfast.” I would call the Superfast super quick (which is super-veloce in Italian, but that’s a Lamborghini descriptor and hence verboten).
The sprint to 60 mph takes just 2.8 seconds. Kids raised on Instagram IV drips will scream about how the Tesla Model S 100D Ludicrous+ is quicker (2.3 seconds), as is the Porsche 911 Turbo S (2.5 seconds) and McLaren 720S (2.5 seconds). It’s all a video game at the end of the day. What’s crazy about the 812 is that this bright yellow GT is naturally aspirated, rear-wheel drive, and heavy (3,845 pounds (1,744 kg)). Look at the only other similarly powered rear-driver I can think of—the 755-horsepower Corvette ZR1. On sticky R-compound tires, the lighter Chevy needs 3.0 seconds to hit 60 mph, and the Corvette out-torques the Ferrari by 185 lb-ft.
Then comes the quarter mile. The 812 Superfast smashes it in 10.4 seconds at 138.6 mph (223 km/h). Bye-bye, Tesla (10.5 seconds at 125.0 mph (201 km/h))! See you later, Porsche (10.6 at 129.6 (208.6 km/h))! The lightweight, twin-turbo 720S is quicker (10.1 seconds at 141.5 (227.7 km/h)), but the carbon-tubbed Brit weighs 678 pounds less than the fizzing Italian. The 720S is also the quickest non-million-dollar hybrid hypercar we’ve ever tested, and it’s (probably) underrated by 100 hp. To reiterate how superveloce the 812 Superfast is, the somewhat lighter (3,650 pounds), similarly powerful ZR1 runs the quarter in 10.8 seconds at 133.1 mph (214.2 km/h).
The Ferrari aces the figure eight in 23.3 seconds, a full second quicker than the Hellcat Redeye. With this metric, the 812 is a half second behind the ZR1 (22.7 seconds), but the Ferrari is on street tires. Pirelli Corsas would probably drop it very close to the magical 22-second barrier, where merely excellent-handling cars are separated from the best there is. Braking from 60 mph is 99 feet, and anything under 100 feet is world class—doubly so on street tires.
OK, so how are these two to drive? What are they like? How do they feel? I entered into these vehicles with a romanticized vision of grand touring: “Dearest Gertrude, I fear that the fear we fear the most has come to pass: Our stores of caviar are depleted. I must venture forth from Paris to Odessa (where else?) to procure more. Keep the bubbles warm and bubbly chilled. Ta!” (Side note: Modern-day Euros would just jet to the Black Sea on Ryanair for 5 euros a leg.)
As such, I assumed that the car to cross the Continent in would be the 812 Superfast. Nope! One thing that surprised me about the duo is that the Dodge is a far superior grand tourer—a more willing, comfortable, and compelling travel partner. Kowalski never had it so good. The Superfast is much less comfortable. And louder. The stereo isn’t as good. The seats are harder and don’t recline. And on and on and on. Still, I can’t remember a super sled that can hit crazy speeds (“Can we just say, ‘No more than 150 mph (241 km/h),’ your honor?”) as quickly and easily. That V-12 just rips.
And the car itself … allow my Head 2 Head co-host Jethro Bovingdon to explain: “Mind a bit blown. Turns like a mid-engine car, slides like an E60 M5, accelerates like a McLaren F1, noise and engine response from the gods.” I concur as he continues: “Utterly astounding that Ferrari’s front-engine ‘GT’ is this sharp and capable. I find it slightly depressing that spending all that money is genuinely worth it (because I can’t afford the interior carbon-fiber trim, let alone the car), but it’s uplifting that Ferrari pushes and pushes to develop something this wild and yet usable.”
Should you think this is exaggeration, the McLaren F1 LM could do 0–100–0 mph (0-160-0 km/h) in 11.5 seconds. This Ferrari? 9.5 seconds. That’s insanity. By the way, that pesky McLaren 720S does 0–100–0 mph (0-160-0 km/h) in 8.8 seconds, which is insanity on angel dust. The Redeye is, in some ways, as equally crazed. The F8 Green Dodge did the 0–100–0 mph (0-160-0 km/h) dance in 11.8 seconds, unbelievably just 0.3 second off the McLaren F1 LM (I feel nuts just typing that) but a light-year or so away from the Ferrari’s performance. Mostly because there’s no traction. As Jethro said, driving the Redeye is like driving a normal car in the wet.
If you pore over your back issues of MotorTrend, you’ll observe a funny phenomenon. Each time a new chapter of the horsepower wars gets opened, the old superlatives come out to play. The 400-hp car launches like a trebuchet. With 500 hp, the thing is like a Saturn V rocket. 600? An F-16. 700? To quote myself, a Hellfire missile! Therefore, essentially 800-horsepower cars ought to accelerate at the speed of light squared with more power than Rome at the height of its glory. And that’s all true, obviously.
Of more significance is that 800 horsepower works. Both cars, as different as they are, are capable, livable, and most important, totally usable in the hands of mere mortals. Superlatives aside, there’s nothing to fear but fear (and depreciation) itself. More presciently, the upcoming electrification of the automobile is going to allow for comparable/greater power levels, at even lower price points. Can’t wait! Doubly so because I now know there’s nothing to be scared of.
I can’t imagine two front-engine, rear-drive, approximately 800-horsepower cars being more different. “Odd couple” doesn’t begin to describe it. The Dodge Challenger Hellcat Redeye is an extreme taken to an extreme. It’s as ridiculous as it is wonderful, as unnecessary as it is desirable. The thing is a you-have-got-to-be-kidding-me caricature of a muscle car. If I may be so bold as to recommend one change to the inmates running the Dodge asylum: 900 horsepower. Never let the bastards get you down!
As for that Ferrari, the 812 Superfast is an all-singing, all-dancing virtual impossibility of a supercar. The 812’s V-12 is the greatest engine ever made. No? Name a better one. I’ll wait. The seven-speed dual-clutch rivals, if not bests, Porsche’s PDK in terms of shifting perfection. A real gobsmacker. You know, a 30-year mortgage at 4.4 percent would be only $2,376 USD a month. Want. So much want.
Were this a comparison test, I would now swiftly, conclusively declare the Ferrari the winner. Since it ain’t, I’ll have to end it by saying people on Redeye budgets need not concern themselves with half-million-dollar Ferraris. Besides, the Mopar has more power. And those lucky enough to afford the 812 can afford a Redeye, too. Carry on.
|2019 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat Redeye||2018 Ferrari 812 Superfast|
|DRIVETRAIN LAYOUT||Front-engine, RWD||Front-engine, RWD|
|ENGINE TYPE||Supercharged 90-deg V-8, cast-iron block/alum heads||65-deg V-12, alum block/heads|
|VALVETRAIN||OHV, 2 valves/cyl||DOHC, 4 valves/cyl|
|DISPLACEMENT||376.3 cu in/6,166 cc||396.4 cu in/6,496 cc|
|POWER (SAE NET)||797 hp @ 6,300 rpm||789 hp @ 8,500 rpm|
|TORQUE (SAE NET)||707 lb-ft @ 4,500 rpm||530 lb-ft @ 7,000 rpm|
|REDLINE||5,800 rpm||9,000 rpm|
|WEIGHT TO POWER||5.7 lb/hp||4.9 lb/hp|
|TRANSMISSION||8-speed automatic||7-speed twin-clutch auto|
|SUSPENSION, FRONT; REAR||Control arms, coil springs, adj shocks, anti-roll bar; multilink, coil springs, adj shocks, anti-roll bar||Control arms, coil springs, adj shocks, anti-roll bar; control arms, coil springs, adj shocks, anti-roll bar|
|BRAKES, F; R||15.4-in vented, grooved 2-pc disc; 13.8-in vented, grooved disc, ABS||15.7-in vented, drilled, carbon-ceramic disc; 14.2-in vented, drilled, carbon-ceramic disc, ABS|
|WHEELS||11.0 x 20-in forged aluminum||10.0 x 20-in; 11.0 x 20-in, forged aluminum|
|TIRES||305/35R20 107Y Pirelli P Zero||275/35R20 102Y; 315/35R20 106Y Pirelli P Zero (PZ4)|
|WHEELBASE||116.2 in||107.1 in|
|TRACK, F/R||65.6/65.7 in||63.5/64.8 in|
|LENGTH x WIDTH x HEIGHT||197.5 x 78.3 x 57.5 in||183.3 x 77.6 x 50.2 in|
|TURNING CIRCLE||38.9 ft||41.1 ft|
|CURB WEIGHT||4,521 lb||3,845 lb|
|WEIGHT DIST, F/R||57/43%||47/53%|
|HEADROOM, F/R||39.3/37.1 in||37.0/- in (est)|
|LEGROOM, F/R||42.0/33.1 in||44.0/- in (est)|
|SHOULDER ROOM, F/R||58.5/53.9 in||55.5/- in (est)|
|CARGO VOLUME||16.2 cu ft||12.0 cu ft|
|ACCELERATION TO MPH|
|0-30||1.8 sec||1.2 sec|
|PASSING, 45-65 MPH||1.6||1.1|
|QUARTER MILE||11.8 sec @ 128.0 mph||10.4 sec @ 138.6 mph|
|BRAKING, 60-0 MPH||104 ft||99 ft|
|LATERAL ACCELERATION||0.95 g (avg)||1.03 g (avg)|
|MT FIGURE EIGHT||24.3 sec @ 0.82 g (avg)||23.3 sec @ 0.93 g (avg)|
|TOP-GEAR REVS @ 60 MPH||1,500 rpm||2,200 rpm|
|PRICE AS TESTED||$91,740||$474,489|
|AIRBAGS||6: Dual front, front side, f/r curtain||4: Dual front, front side/head|
|BASIC WARRANTY||3 yrs/36,000 miles||3 yrs/Unlimited miles|
|POWERTRAIN WARRANTY||5 yrs/60,000 miles||3 yrs/Unlimited miles|
|ROADSIDE ASSISTANCE||5 yrs/60,000 miles||3 yrs/Unlimited miles|
|FUEL CAPACITY||18.5 gal||24.3 gal|
|EPA CITY/HWY/COMB ECON||13/22/16 mpg||12/16/13 mpg|
|ENERGY CONS, CITY/HWY||259/153 kW-hrs/100 miles||281/211 kW-hrs/100 miles|
|CO2 EMISSIONS, COMB||1.22 lb/mile||1.43 lb/mile|
|RECOMMENDED FUEL||Unleaded premium||Unleaded premium|
|† SAE Certified|