Photography and video by ©2016 Toni Avery
Muscle cars in the 1960s were all about horsepower and stop light to stop light performance. Braking and handling weren’t exactly on the top the list of impressive attributes. Today isn’t much different but you now can add in some of the best technology this century has to offer and a lot more power. How does the Challenger SRT 392 compare to its direct V8 competitions? Read on to find out.
This Challenger is equipped with a 6.4L 392 HEMI V8 engine producing 485 HP and 475 lb-ft of torque mated to a six-speed manual transmission with stopping power provided by six piston Brembo brakes front and four piston rear.
After testing the 2015 Scat Pack in winter of 2014, I was smitten. There was something missing, though. As you probably know, I’m one of the dinosaur car enthusiasts that will take a manual over even some of the quickest automatics on the market. To the point where I’d rather sit in bumper to bumper traffic, clutch in clutch out, to prove you can drive one in today’s world of automatic everything.
The clutch is heavy to operate, while pedal travel from fully depressed is short. After a few stops, the weight becomes less apparent. Operating the transmission the first few shifts isn’t as seemless as I’d hoped but once you get the feel for the location of each gear, shifting is smooth. You can definitely feel the weight of the car when operating the transmission, causing it to feel heavy. But the best part is, you get that driver involvement that’s missing with the eight-speed automatic.
Drive modes come in the form of Default, Custom, Sport and Track. Default provides the best balance of traction, steering and suspension management. Custom affords the drive the ability to customize each option to your specific needs. Sport is the best of all worlds providing more steering feel, better suspension feel between you and road as well as canceling traction control, and throttle response appears to be heightened.
Track takes these and cranks up the intensity with even more precise steering feel, firmer yet more connected suspension feel and an overall potent driving experience. Another added benefit is that the exhaust valve opens up going from Default to Sport and Track resulting in a louder, deeper more intense sound.
The Challenger handles pretty solidly. It’s smooth on the highway and over road imperfections when in Default mode. Once you switch on Sport, bumps become a little more apparent and the car starts to feel even more solid. Track is pretty extreme for regular street driving with even the slightest bump feeling like a giant pot hole. While Track is the most aggressive mode with the most responsive experience, it is pretty extreme for street driving, especially with most public roads not being billiard table smooth.
I’m especially crazy about the constant engine noise that floods the cabin as you accelerate through the power band. The exhaust noise is more apparent from the outside, while there’s plenty of cabin noise to keep you happy.
The exterior of the Challenger features standard 20-inch x 9.5-inch Hyper Black Forged wheels wrapped in optional 275/40ZR20 P Zero summer tires, optional matte black stripes and a paint color of B5 Blue Pearl.
Parking the three most iconic modern day muscles car next to one another, the Challenger stands out as it manages to keep a good majority of its classic design heritage in this modern day interpretation. It looks especially good at the front straight on angle.
Inside the Challenger is an all black interior featuring an SRT flat-bottom steering wheel and SRT Sport seats.
The SRT Sport seats are finished in a soft leather with large side bolsters to hold you in place. While they do the job, I felt the side bolsters were a bit too large especially the right side, which was an issue most of the time when shifting. There was also more lower back support than I’d like in the drivers seat.
Compared to the Camaro, getting to the back seats isn’t nearly as much of a test of flexibility and are only slightly easier to get to that the Mustang. There also appears to be more leg room behind the driver/front passenger seats.
When comparing the 5.0 Mustang, V8 Camaro and SRT V8 Challenger, there are a few key differences. First, the Challenger feels significantly heavier than the first two and is. While I have yet to try the manual transmission in the 2016 generation Camaro, from my time in the 2015, I can say that the Mustang manual gearbox is the easiest and most precise of the three. With significantly more torque than the Mustang, the Camaro and Challenger have a significant leg up.
They each have a unique sound with unique performance attributes. If you want a pure muscle machine that doesn’t compromise, the Challenger or Camaro are safe bets, but if you want a muscle car that feels a little more refined and slightly European, then the Mustang is the choice for you.
2016 Dodge Challenger SRT 392:
Base Price: $49,195
Technology Group, Twin Black Center Stripes, 275/40ZR20 P Zero Summer Tires
Gas Guzzler Tax
Price with Options: $51,780
Destination Charge: $995
Total Price: $52,775
Fuel Economy: 14 City, 23 Highway, 17 Combined
GirlsDriveFastToo gives the 2016 Dodge Challenger SRT 392 an overall rating of (out of 5 total):