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Video: 2018 Dodge Challenger SRT Demon: First Drive

03:18 min
By Cars.com Editors
July 18, 2017

About the video

After months of anticipation, we got the 2018 Dodge Challenger SRT Demon out on a drag strip. Check the video for more.

Transcript

(car engine starting/running) After months and months of buildup and anticipation and slow reveals, we are finally driving the Dodge Demon and it's set on kill. These are 840 horsepower.
They've got the race gas, they've got the race PCM and we're driving it at Lucas oil Raceway, drag strip in Indianapolis. And let me tell ya, the hype is real. There are a number of assists to get you off the line, like launch control and trans brake and the line lock for the burnout feature. And we're gonna take you through some of those features to get the Demon out of the hole. (racing engine) The Demon has many firsts like offering drag radial stock, or really just making journalists pee their pants a little launching at the drag strip during this drive event. The trans brake is one of those firsts and it's a feature that helps the Demon launch violently on the starting line. And the Demon, the trans brake is actually software based. There's no additional hardware. The transmission in the Demon is the same transmission that's in the regular Hellcat with the exception of a new torque converter. Now, the trans brake locks the transmission's output shaft, but allows the engine to build speed at the line and it builds boost too. So when you launch, you have all of that torque for wheel lifting starts. And it's not a simple process. SRT chassis and powertrain engineer, Brandon Abbott, takes us through the complicated process of operating a trans brake, but first shows us how to use the line lock to get the tires heated. I only got the hang of the trans brake after instruction from two separate engineers and many, many passes where I just screwed it up. At the end of the day, I finally was able to click off consecutive clean passes, unfortunately Dodge wasn't providing time slips at this event. But it was hot, muggy, and these cars were being hot lapped all day, so I doubt we'd be able to get anywhere close to the Demon's 9:65 at 140 mile an hour quarter mile time. Though the trans brake allows the engine to rev to 2,350 RPM, launching there is a good way to ruin your run, even with these sticky tires. At Lucas oil Raceway, they had the track prepped well, but it still takes gentle, but not too gentle application of throttle out of the hole to get the nose to lift, leaving from around 1700 RPM and that plants the tires before you can go wide open. And from there, it's just keep it planted, hang on and point it straight. (revving engine shifting gears) It's a delicate dance to use all the features to make that perfect pass. And even then you're not guaranteed you're gonna have a clean trip down the drag strip, but with everything right and when you've nailed the launch, using the trans brake and the line lock, it is an extremely rewarding experience, especially because it took all day to get there. But, when this thing launches and it shoves you back in your seat, it's like a punch to the chest, which is unlike anything else out there. (racing engine shifting)

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