The 425-hp Dodge Charger SRT8 is a rockin’ muscle car. It would be easy to dismiss it as yet another twin to the Chrysler 300C SRT 8 and the Dodge Magnum SRT8, but the Charger establishes itself as the sportiest of its brethren with the firmest suspension calibration of the bunch and look-at-me spoilers and scoops.
By Kevin “Crash” Corrigan
Dodge appears to be aiming its Charger SRT8 squarely at the 40+ males, guys like me, who still like to believe that they have a little wild streak left in them. After all, anyone younger would have to be truly into classic cars to recall the original as anything more than a cool looking Matchbox toy.
Then, of course, there are the insurance costs. Just mention the SRT logo and you can light up the eyes of the State Farm man as quickly as you can light up the tires on the vehicle.
Yes, the new Dodge Charger is predominately aimed at those who can still remember the original. Yet from a styling standpoint, both old and new share but a few similarities. There’s the split rectangular grille, the long hood and the nicely curved roofline. Beyond that, the new vehicle appears little like the original version.
I think that Chrysler, rather than playing the retro-look card, have gone for what I might call “the muscle car feeling”. Although this can be felt throughout the entire Charger range, nothing says “muscle car” like their SRT 8 version.
The vehicle might not be exactly a mirror image of the Charger of yesteryear, but it certainly catches the eye. It sits nice and squarely on the road, and from the front, its forward rake and the masculine looking grille make the SRT 8 look quite intimidating, to say the least. No, it might not be a perfect re-creation, but it definitely has all the looks of a thoroughbred muscle car.
The large 20 inch rims tend to dominate the side profile of the vehicle, the design of which allows an almost unobstructed view of the massive brake rotors and the bright red Brembo brake calipers. This immediately lets one know that this vehicle is “something a little out of the ordinary”.
Stepping inside, I found the interior somewhat plain at first. That is until I remembered the muscle cars of the past, and recalled that they were also rather bland inside. When you think about it, the original muscle cars were designed to be more about “go than show” and were basically designed to be the affordable sports car of the ordinary man on the street.
Now just because the interior is a little on the plain side doesn’t mean that it’s lacking in features. My test vehicle was loaded with goodies such as a GPS navigation system, heated front seats and a power sunroof. Then, there’s the stereo system, and what a system that is, an AM/FM Cass/CD 6-disc MP3 radio, with 11 high performance speakers, a 276 watt Kicker amplifier, and a 200 watt subwoofer.
The dashboard has been well designed, and the instrument binnacle follows along the vehicle’s theme, as it has a certain classic look to it. I did, however, find some of the interior plastics a little on the hard side, particularly the lower section of the door panels.
The seats are made of strong leather and have been designed to be quite practical, yet comfortable. The front seats have large side bolsters which hold you firmly in place at all times. There is, however, a slight downside to this as, although the leather is quite tough, it tends to wear on the outside edge. In fact, my tester only had a few thousand kilometers on the clock but was already starting to show signs of wear. The rear seats boast of comfort along with plenty of room. This is something which is not often found in vehicles offering this kind of performance.
Of course, it’s always fun to sit in cars like this and go “vroom, vroom”. I know, I spent most of the 60’s doing just that, but I’m a bit older now. I’ve got a driving license and they gave me the keys, so let me give you an idea of what it’s like to drive.
Think of it this way. Have you ever ridden on a roller coaster, backwards, with your eyes shut, whilst hanging upside down in the seat? If you have, then you might have an inkling of the thrill that this car can deliver. Its 6.1 L Hemi produces 425 screaming horses; it then unleashes them to the rear wheels. If that’s not enough for you, they’ve added a clever little button which turns off the traction control. Wasn’t that nice of them!
Then there’s the sound of the exhaust, which again harkens back to the old muscle car era. It starts off with a deep throaty rubble, then gets louder and louder as you press the accelerator pedal, until it becomes a full blown roar.
The traction that the Charger SRT8 has is amazing, and the ride qualities are far better than I had expected. Obviously, on country roads, the car tends to follow the camber of the road because of the wide tires and likewise, you do feel the odd pothole through the steering wheel. Yet, the SRT8 handles quite well on most road surfaces and is a credit to the designers in that it suffers very little from squeaks and rattles.
Another great thing about the SRT8 is that it can stop as quickly as it can start. I knew that the braking was going to be good as soon as I saw the name on the brake calipers. After all, Brembo supplies many of the world’s top SuperCar manufacturers.
After spending a week in the Charger SRT8, I was suitably impressed with the vehicle. In fact, I truly didn’t want to give it back. The car does exactly what I believe Dodge designed it to do. It creates the true feeling of a muscle car from days gone by, yet at the same time, it inspires confidence through the use of modern technology. The Charger SRT8 is basically a blast from the past, whilst also being a true blast into the future.
The Charger SRT8’s five-speed manu-matic transmission sends power to the upgraded differential and axles through a heavy-duty prop shaft. The only notable difference in the Charg-er SRT8’s suspension versus that of the 300C SRT8’s upgraded bushings and spring rates, specially tuned dampers, and larger diameter antiroll bars, according to Knott, is its more aggressive, "Dodge-like" tuning for a sportier ride and bad-boy demeanor on the track. ABS and ESP have been tuned in that same macho spirit, and the Charger SRT8 rides a half-inch lower than the Charger R/T.
- Price: $39,000 (est.)
- Engine: 6.1L OHV V-8, 425 hp, 420 lb-ft
- Drive: Rear-wheel
- 0-60 mph: 5.0 sec
- Top speed: 165 mph
Ride and Handling
Chassis improvements on the 2006 Dodge Charger SRT8 include SRT-tuned dampers, specially tailored spring rates and suspension bushings, and large-diameter anti-sway bars. The ride height of the 2006 Dodge Charger SRT8 is one-half inch lower than the Dodge Charger. Handling is enhanced for performance with an Electronic Stability Program (ESP) specially tuned for the 2006 Dodge Charger SRT8.
The all-new 2006 Dodge Charger SRT8 rides on unique SRT-developed five-spoke 20-inch forged aluminum wheels. Tires are high-performance Goodyear Supercar F1 three-season tires with asymmetrical tread (four-season tires are an available option) - 245/45/20 in the front, and 255/45/20 in the rear.
Balanced performance demands the ability to slow and stop a vehicle in proportion to the ability to accelerate. The braking system of the all-new 2006 Dodge Charger SRT8 provides benchmark braking performance, befitting the Charger SRT8’s extreme performance character.
All four wheels feature Brembo performance brake calipers, with the red finish characteristic of all Dodge SRT vehicles. Each four-piston caliper grips a vented rotor; 360 x 32 mm discs up front, with 350 x 26 mm in the rear.
Functional performance is at the heart of the SRT credo. To that end, an all-new front fascia includes integrated ducts that help direct fresh air to cool the brakes. The front fascia also incorporates an air dam to reduce lift. The hood is equipped with a scoop to funnel cool air into the engine compartment.
The rear fascia features integrated lower strakes to direct air flow and aggressive cutouts to accommodate dual 3.5-inch exhaust tips. A dramatic decklid spoiler set on dual stanchions increases downforce for high-speed stability and traction.
And because SRT vehicles look as good as they perform, a unique heritage-style SRT badge is set into the blacked-out grill. Body-colored exterior mirrors fold inward for convenience in tight quarters.
Three exterior colors are available: Bright Silver, Brilliant Black and Inferno Red Crystal Pearlcoat.
Race-inspired interior appointments in the 2006 Dodge Charger SRT8 start with power-adjustable, deeply sculpted and highly bolstered sport seats in the front fitted with performance suede inserts to hold occupants during maneuvering. Rear seats have matching performance suede inserts. All seats have contrasting red stitching.
Other sporting touches include “carbon fiber” technical leather trim on the steering wheel for better grip, and special finishing on the center stack.
A 180-mph (300 kph) speedometer, tachometer and temperature gauge feature dark faces unique to the all-new 2006 Dodge Charger SRT8. An LED display within the gauge cluster is driver-configurable for oil temperature, oil pressure and tire pressure readouts.
Available options on the 2006 Dodge Charger SRT8 include power sunroof, Kicker® audio system with six-disc CD changer, DVD-based Navigation system with turn-by directions and voice prompts, automatic temperature control, heated front seats and side air bags.
Also available are SIRIUS® Satellite Radio and a UConnect™ hands-free communications system with Bluetooth™ technology. This system recognizes up to seven different Bluetooth-equipped cellular phones and responds to voice commands, utilizing a microphone in the rear-view mirror and the stereo system’s speakers for hands-free conversations.
The 2006 Dodge Charger SRT8 interior is offered in Dark Slate Grey/Light Graystone.
When Dodge introduced the all-new 2006 Dodge Charger, performance-car aficionados had a lot to celebrate. The party gets kicked up a notch with the introduction of the all-new 2006 Dodge Charger SRT8.
With its infusion of Street and Racing Technology (SRT) DNA, the all-new 2006 Dodge Charger SRT8 provides exactly what performance enthusiasts want in their American muscle sedan: more power, world-class ride and handling, benchmark braking, functional and aggressive-looking exterior enhancements and a race-inspired interior.
"The all-new Dodge Charger embodies all of the key attributes of the Dodge brand: bold, powerful, street-smart and full of life," said Darryl Jackson, Vice President-Dodge Marketing, Chrysler Group. "The all-new 2006 Dodge Charger SRT8 builds on that formula. It starts with a 425-horsepower 6.1-liter HEMI® engine and continues with a powerful dose of renowned Street and Racing Technology performance for a tremendous performance-per-dollar value story."
During the heyday of the original Dodge Charger, performance was measured mainly in straight-line numbers. Today, SRT adds a complete approach with the all-new 2006 Dodge Charger SRT8.
"The SRT approach to performance is multi-dimensional," said Dan Knott, Director-Street and Racing Technology, Chrysler Group. "For example, the 2006 Dodge Charger SRT8 incorporates Brembo brakes to stop as well as it accelerates. Its handling is world-class across a dynamic range. Its interior is designed specifically for the performance driver. And its performance exterior characteristics don’t just look great, they’re also functional."
As an all-around performer, the all-new 2006 Dodge Charger SRT8 is capable of awe-inspiring numbers unheard-of in a muscle sedan: 0-60 mph in the low-five-second range, quarter-mile time in the mid-13-second range and braking distance from 60-0 mph in approximately 110 feet. The Dodge Charger SRT8 is also capable of accomplishing SRT’s signature performance test of 0-100-0 mph in the mid-16-second range.
Just as the very first Charger-the original 1964 "Charger by Dodge" concept car-sported a HEMI V-8, the all-new 2006 Dodge Charger SRT8 gets its motivation from a HEMI, too. In this case, it’s
a big-bore, SRT-engineered version producing 425 horsepower (317 kW) and 420 lb.-ft. (569 Nom) of torque.
Several features of the new 6.1-liter SRT HEMI recall the legendary HEMI engines of previous decades, including the namesake hemispherical combustion chambers that provide power and efficiency, orange-painted cylinder block, black valve covers, and the horsepower rating (with less displacement, the 6.1-liter HEMI’s 69.8 horsepower-per-liter rating exceeds that of the legendary Street HEMI of the 1960s and ’70s).
To create the 6.1-liter version of the Chrysler Group’s HEMI, SRT powertrain engineers applied tried-and-true engine-building techniques honed by generations of American hot-rodders.
SRT engineers who developed the Dodge Charger SRT8’s engine achieved more horsepower by adding more cubic inches, increasing the compression ratio, and redesigning the cylinder head, intake and exhaust systems for better flow and increased engine speed.
For more displacement, SRT engineers bored out the diameter of the cylinders in the HEMI by 3.5 millimeters each in order to increase the total displacement to 6.1 liters from 5.7 liters.
Compression ratio was also increased to 10.3:1 from 9.6:1, increasing engine efficiency and power.
Engine breathing was increased with new higher-flow cylinder heads, a specially designed intake manifold, and exhaust headers with individual tubes encased in a stainless steel shell, all unique to the 6.1-liter HEMI engine. Larger-diameter valves and reshaped ports in the heads allow for maximized air flow. The intake manifold was designed with larger-diameter and shorter runners for higher-speed tuning. Exhaust is routed through a large-diameter (2.75-inch vs. 2.5-inch) exhaust system with 3.5-inch chrome tips.
To further increase horsepower, performance-oriented camshaft profiles were developed to allow more air in and out of the cylinders, as well as manage a higher engine speed. SRT engineers increased HEMI’s peak power output engine speed nearly 20 percent to 6,000 revolutions per minute (rpm) from 5,000 rpm. Intake and exhaust valve stems are hollow, and exhaust valve stems are filled with sodium to help dissipate heat more efficiently.
The high-performance SRT 6.1-liter HEMI is strengthened with redesigned components, including a reinforced engine block, forged steel crankshaft, high-strength powdered-metal connecting rods, floating-pin pistons (cooled by oil squirters), and an oil pan modified to manage oil return to the pan sump at high engine speeds.
Power for the SRT 6.1-liter HEMI is channeled through a five-speed automatic transmission with specially calibrated driver-selectable AutoStick®, which offers fully automatic or manual shifting selection. A heavy-duty four-flange prop shaft sends the torque from the transmission to an upgraded differential and axles.