Dodge's Charger SRT-8 Rocks By Michael Austin November 2005 The picture you're looking at is real— no photographic or physical tricks were used to turn the rear tires on the Dodge Charger SRT-8 into vapor so thick it looks like a pile of cotton candy. All you do is nudge the manumatic transmission into first (where it won't shift at redline), mash the brakes and gas at the same time, and then ease up on the brakes enough to trick the engine-management system into unleashing all 6400 revolutions per minute. Typically, when the car is stationary the engine computer limits the revs to prevent such hooliganism. There is one other key element—turn the stability and traction control all the way off. This is the special thing—okay, one of the special things—about the Charger SRT-8. The full-off option will soon be extended to the rest of the SRT-8 lineup, but for the time being the Charger is the only car in the entire DaimlerChrysler family that lets you peel out wherever, whenever. Dodge knows what the people want. So, Hoss, you've probably heard about the Charger's SRT-8 siblings, so you're already familiar with what is mechanically different from the Charger R/T. But for those who've ruined their short-term memories, we'll tell you again. Like the big Chrysler and Dodge SRTs, this Charger is powered by a 6.1-liter Hemi V-8, which puts out 425 horsepower and 420 poundfeet of torque. It's also got Goodyear Supercar F1 tires (245/45 front and 255/45 rear) sitting on 20-inch polished rims, a stiffened suspension with Bilstein dampers, and big brake discs clamped by four-piston calipers by Brembo. Not in recent memory has any company produced a more menacing looking car. Put it this way: If the Charger SRT-8 had knuckles, they'd be covered in scar tissue. It's definitely not pretty, but the sinister look seems to work—everybody stops to gawk at the Charger. Apparently a big brawny sedan that's utterly unapologetic about its excesses defies current convention. The Charger's remarkable performance also defies convention. Did we say remarkable? That doesn't really describe how fast the Charger accelerates. Furious would probably be a better adjective. The Charger's 0-60 time of 5.3 seconds beats about every compact sports car, luxury sports car, and even a few dedicated sports cars. And as for the ballsy engine sound, well, they don't get much better. The folks at SRT did a fine job of making the Charger SRT-8 into a real driver's car. It's not like a ballerina, not even the fat hippo ballerina from Fantasia, but the Charger's athleticism matches its straight-line performance. It's a gentle beast as well. The rear end can be coaxed to slide out, but everything happens in a progressive and orderly fashion. The ride is surprisingly compliant. It's much stiffer than the Charger R/T, but won't be breaking any eggs on a bumpy grocery run.The steering is appropriately weighted and works in such a slop-free and direct manner that the Charger's heft is disguised. We were hoping the brakes would be awesome, and they are, in both performance and feel. Which is nice, considering the temptation to blast up to 100 mph and back to legal speeds. That sort of behavior tends to wear down brakes in a hurry, and, being Brembos, they won't be cheap to replace. There's probably not much that will last long on the Charger SRT-8. Because of its size and power, the Charger devours fuel, tires, and brakes like a fat man eating baked scrod at an all-you-can-eat buffet. But if you're at all like us, you won't care about all that when the engine roars, the tires scream, and the scenery starts to blur. Besides, if you care about stuff like fuel economy, you might be a pussy, and the Charger SRT-8 is not a car for pussies.