One look at the top-line performance offerings from the leading domestic automakers will confirm one thing: There’s a muscle car renaissance currently underway. Fans of tire barbecues, standing quarter miles and ungodly amounts of power are spoiled for choice when it comes to selecting a new sports car.
Once again, we find Dodge and Chevy throwing their rear-drive hats into the ring to compete for that muscle-car dollar. And while both the Challenger Hellcat and Camaro Z28 appear to be cut from the same cloth, they’re actually very different.
That’s the conclusion reached by Todd and Paul, hosts of the Everyday Driver YouTube series. To sort out exactly what was on tap, these two took a couple of the best muscle cars on the market for a romp through California’s picturesque mountains.
The results were clear: the Hellcat’s immense power was intoxicating, prompting dabs of throttle at every semi-straight opportunity. It’s interior is nice, decorated in materials that outshine it’s cheapo-plastic past. The exterior styling is mildly understated next to the Z28. But as soon as you start putting it into a corner, things go wrong.
On the other hand, the Camaro was still very fast, albeit down a few hundred ponies next to the Hellcat. The interior is barren and the exterior is boldly aggressive. But as soon as it hits a bend, it all makes perfect sense.
One’s a cruiser that dominates all stoplights, while the other’s a track-day driver’s machine. Which would you have?
Click past the jump to read about these two muscle kings.
Making its initial return in 2008, six long years passed before the Challenger was eventually blessed with a supercharged, 6.2-liter Hemi V-8 producing 707 horsepower and 650 pound-feet of torque (go ahead, read that again — I’ll wait), making it the most powerful factory-built muscle car ever created. That means this car can rip to 60 mph under four seconds and demolish the 1,320 in under 12 seconds. Throw a pair of drag radials on it, and that quarter-mile ET drops into the 10s.
The Challenger Hellcat has a 4,439-pound curb weight. The transmission is either a six-speed manual or eight-speed auto, while a sport suspension, 20-inch wheels, and Pirelli P Zero Nero all-season tires struggle to manage all that heft. The brakes consist of enormous 15.4-inch Brembo two-piece rotors clamped by six-piston calipers at each of the four wheels. Large, barely bolstered seats with standard heat and ventilation are in place to accommodate even the widest of passengers, while leather upholstery and aluminum trim keeps it classy. At $60,000, it’s also relatively affordable, which is good considering all the tires and gas you’ll blow through.
Stretching back to the old days of the SCCA Trans-Am road racing class, the Z28 is a lightened lover of the checkered flag. For this newest iteration, Chevy shaved 300 pounds from the curb weight of the ZL1, with thinner glass, a rear-seat delete, and lightweight 19-inch wheels. Stick is provided by super-wide gumball Pirelli P Zero Trofeo R tires, which combine with the reworked adjustable suspension for up to 1.05 G of lateral acceleration. The brakes have carbon-ceramic rotors over 15 inches in diameter, with six-pistons up front and four-pistons in the rear.
The new Z28 also looks like it just popped off the starting grid, with extensive aero enhancements that include an aggressive front splitter, fender flares, extended rocker panels, a large rear spoiler and a diffuser. Motive power is provided by a naturally aspirated, 7.0-liter LS7 V-8, which makes 505 horsepower and 481 pound-feet of torque.
Pricing is a step above the Hellcat, with MSRP starting at $75,000. That’s no chump change, but for a car that can purportedly handle any performance task asked of it, Chevy gets away with it.