It’s the most powerful production Chrysler V8, as well as most powerful production muscle car to date, so it needs to be treated with respect…

Portland, Oregon.

Do I take the red key or the black key?

The black key limits horsepower to 500. Jaws drop. If you put it in valet mode, rpms are limited to 4,000. Gosh, I really hope I can take the red key…

This Matrix-like conundrum is a good one to have. Take the safer route (black key) if you’d rather ease off on harnessing the gargantuan horsepower of the 2015 Dodge Challenger Hellcat. It’s the most powerful production Chrysler V8, as well as most powerful production muscle car to date, so it needs to be treated with respect.

But then again, the red key will allow me to do tame this muscled feline one shift at a time, whether through the 6-speed manual or an 8-speed automatic.

Looks like the decision has been made for me. Red key is sitting pretty in the centre console. And it’s in track mode.

Electronic intervention is minimal. I have access to all 707 horsepower and I’m at the Portland International Raceway. I’d say this will be a heavenly day.

With a new look on the inside and outside; the 2015 Dodge Challenger is ready to take on its Ford Mustang and Chevrolet Camaro competition head-on.

According to market research, two thirds of Challenger buyers say they don’t cross shop anything else. That said, those who did cross-shop, and decided to go in another direction, attributed it to its archaic interior. That problem is no more.

Now Challengers come with a driver-centric and cool-looking interior setup. Whether you have the standard 5-inch touchscreen or the optional 8.4-inch (the biggest touchscreen in its segment), you can’t lose. Then there’s a new 7-inch multi-view driver information display instrument cluster that adds to the chic execution; standard on all models. Not to mention, displays all the vital stats that you’ll need when driving.

Combined with physical buttons– for those who don’t like to control everything by a screen – its evolutionary changes certainly help its cause. A lot.

But the heart of the Challenger lies underneath its sheet metal; the curves and edges that were inspired by the ’71 Challenger.

When it comes to engine choices, you’re not without options. There are four.

Here’s the skinny:

1) A 3.6L, Pentastar V6 producing 305 horsepower and 268 lb-ft of torque

2) A 5.7L, V8 HEMI with 372 horsepower (with the 8-speed automatic) 375 horsepower  and 410 lb-ft of torque with the 6-speed manual

3) A 6.4L, V8 HEMI with 485 horsepower and 475 lb-ft of torque

Last but not least,

4) A supercharged 6.2L, V8 HEMI with 707 horsepower and 650 lb-ft of torque.

All engines except the V6s can be paired with a manual or an automatic. The V6s only come with the 8-speed automatic. Again, no matter what you choose, you’ll come out singing. Back to the road.

Having tested all four models – with different packages – the thing that stood out the most to me is how good of a car it actually is. Even on a quaint suburban drive through a national park where speed limits were posted at 35 mph, I was impressed with its road manners. And considering I had almost 485 horsepower (with the 6.4L engine), it was as docile as a lethargic lion, yet ready to pounce when the opportunity presented itself.

Both track time and road time added to the multi-dimensional admiration for the two-door.

Sure, visibility isn’t ideal. The C pillars are huge and cut into sightlines when looking rearward. The rear seats don’t offer a ton of legroom – especially for the individual stuck in the middle – but heck, it does have room for five.

Fuel economy, well, you’re not buying this car for its estimated numbers! That’s for sure.

But it does offer an emotional experience. It turns heads and is sexy as hell.

Even the V6 on the track did a bang up job.

And with a starting MSRP of $28,995, the Canadian-built Challenger is up to the task, will kick butts, and take names. All at the same time.

Visit www.Dodge.ca for more details.

Contact: alexandra [dot] straub [at] drivewaybc [dot] ca

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