It’s about 40 years since I drove a Dodge Charger, a 1969 version of the legendary muscle car.
The choices for my illicit spin around my hometown in the north of England, was a Pontiac Trans Am, Chevy sedan (forgotten which model) and the aforementioned Charger.
Illicit not because I was joyriding but because I wasn’t insured to drive these American monsters, owned by my bosses at the local plumbing supplies company.
Not sure why I chose the Dodge, possibly because I was a TV cowboy fan and Dodge City was, of course, the centre of all gun play. How fortuitous because it would provide me with a point of reference for when recently I climbed aboard the latest version of the Charger, which draws its design inspiration from that earlier model.
Just kidding. I don’t remember much about my 15-minute turn at the wheel of that alien left-hand drive power machine. I recall that it went like stink, I liked the roar and the auto transmission – my first – was sensational.
Perhaps that’s all I needed to recall because those performance attributes were what fascinated muscle car fans on both sides of the Atlantic.
The new Charger looks are truly reminiscent of the cars that bore the same back in the late 60s and the variety of engines now on offer can deliver the same thrill, more so given the technological advances.
Nostalgia alone is not enough to justify creating such contemporary re-recreations of icons of a bygone era.
Today’s muscle machines have to perform as everyday cars and contain the same creature comforts we now expect in a family sedan and the 2016 Charger (available in nine trims, delivers in spades.
Let’s open the driver-side door of this coupe-like four-door sedan, which first returned in 2005 after a 19-year absence from dealerships. Since that celebrated revival it has been fine-tuned in every sense of the word. If the earlier re-iterations of this new generation were somewhat spartan inside, that cannot be said now.
Premium materials now adorn the interior and there’s a choice of 19 trim and colour combinations, not to mention a customizable 7-inch full-colour driver information display cluster.
The SXT test car featured the optional 8.4-inch touchscreen media center with Uconnect Access system (optional on base trims), very much a 21st century luxury. As is the available BeatsAudio system, with its 552-watt amplifier and trunk mounted subwoofer, which blasted me with the mid-60s sounds of Jefferson Airplane during my freeway ride.
The 2016 Charger uses a TorqueFlite eight-speed transmission mated to a 3.6-litre Pentastar V-6 engine, which effortlessly generates 292 horses.
And it’s a muscle car with mean fuel economy numbers – 12.8/8.6 L/100 kms.
The tester’s Rallye Group option with its one-of-a-kind cold-air induction system, sport-tuned exhaust and engine calibration teases another eight horsepower from the V6. The deep throaty exhaust note whisks one back to the 60s when the Airplane’s Grace Slick was also in good voice and I had hair.
No surprise that the freeway cruising was fun additionally aided and abetted by the three steering modes: Normal, Comfort and Sport.
To be honest, I really didn’t get the chance to put the all-wheel drive system to the test but it has to be a bonus for suburban drivers encountering winter weather on their commutes.
But does it play nice as a town car? In the main yes, though the coupe inhibited view can make supermarket parking a challenge.
The V6 did not disappoint. Of course, if you want muscle on steroids then you might want to take a look at the Charger SRT Hellcat model with its supercharged 6.2-litre HEMI Hellcat engine. It produces 707 horsepower and 650 lb.-ft. of torque and a top speed of almost 330 km/h.
A slightly tamer option is the Charger SRT 392 model, powered by a 6.4-litre 392 HEMI V-8 engine, delivering 485 horsepower and 475 lb.-ft. of torque.
A quick mention of something I doubt was ever a consideration in the old days: the Charger offers more than 80 safety and security features!