With the demise of the Grand Caravan minivan, Dodge has wrapped up its transformation from a catch-all brand into the ultimate purveyor of American muscle.
Significantly, every model in its line-up, including the Durango SUV, now can be ordered with a Hellcat engine making 700+ horsepower. For 2021, those who think you can never cram enough ponies under the hood have the Dodge Challenger SRT Super Stock to look to. While not quite a match for the 840 hp Dodge Challenger Demon that had a limited run a few years back, the SS is now the king of the Hellcat hill, 2021 seeing it bumped up to an impressive 807 hp, making it the most muscular coupe you can get before climbing into the exotics class.
“We had to Demon-ize the Hellcat,” proclaimed Matt McAlean, the Dodge brand’s sales chief, during a recent presentation in Charlotte, North Carolina of the 2021 Challenger SRT Super Stock.
The Super Stock has been around for a while, but the 2021 model gets not only more muscle but a new purpose in life. While it may be street legal, Dodge is targeting the same audience that went wild for the Demon a few years back, those who might want to take it for a run down the drag strip on the weekend.
To gear it up for the drag strip, Dodge has made a number of changes for 2021, among other things taking steps to cut some weight off the heavy beast, among other things by slightly downsizing the front brakes.
The suspension was retuned, the adaptive Bilstein shocks now programmed to transfer weight to the rear to ensure the Super Stock new 315/40R18 Nitto drag radials lock up to the pavement immediately. “Spinning isn’t winning,” stressed Vehicle Development Manager Jim Wilder. Meanwhile, the coupe’s Track Mode has been retuned for the drag strip.
“… the new model will launch you through the quarter mile with a whopping three car-length lead over the brand’s next-in-line powerhouse, the Challenger SRT Hellcat Redeye Widebody ….”
Exterior: Like the rest of the Challenger line, the 2021 Super Stock retains the classic cues that harken back to the muscle car era decades ago. But there are a number of tweaks to the SS beyond the new two-piece Hellcat badge.
When you’re trying to pump out all that power, you need to push a lot of air into the engine compartment, both to let the supercharged V-8 breathe and to keep it cool. Like other Hellcat models, fog lamps have given way to additional air intakes. The Super Stock also adds new hood scoops to bring in cool air and exhaust hot air.
A closer look reveals a unique rear tail spoiler and those Nitto drag tires which have taller – and softer – sidewalls.
Interior: The cabin is classic Dodge, albeit with a number of upgrades from the Hellcat family, starting with well bolstered sports seats with embroidered SRT Hellcat logos. The leather and chrome steering wheel also shouts “SRT.”
The most significant difference between the Super Stock and Hellcat Widebody can be found in the new, larger touchscreen with the Uconnect infotainment system. You use that to switch between driving modes and to access settings unique to the drag strip-oriented SS, including the ability to enable Launch Control and Line Lock functions that help maximize launch speeds.
Like the Dodge Demon, the rear bench seat can be added or removed from the Super Stock. Where it cost $1 to buy the bench with the Demon, however, you’ll pay a buck to delete it from the SS.
Powertrain: The Challenger Super Stock uses a beefed up version of the now-familiar Dodge Hellcat supercharged 6.2-liter V-8 – here making 807 hp and 707 lb-ft of torque. Power is directed through an 8-speed automatic to the rear wheels.
The powertrain is an impressive feet of engineering and, among other things, makes use of the Challenger’s climate control system to add a bit more boost by allowing the compressed air driven through the supercharger to be cooled down before entering the V-8. The driveline also uses a modified torque multiplier to further enhance launch. Another useful addition is a performance-tuned asymmetrical limited-slip differential with a 3.09 final drive ratio.
Technology and Safety: The Super Stock has what you might call a Jekyll-and-Hyde personality. Use the black key fob and power drops to a more manageable level. Use the red fob and all Hell(cat) is unleashed.
Most of the technology is devoted to performance, including the ability to use fast-launch systems like Launch Control, Line-Lock and Launch Assist, the latter designed to minimize wheel hop under full throttle. There’s also a Race Cooldown system to ensure the powertrain returns to optimum temperature after a hard run.
Most of those functions are controlled by the large in-dash touchscreen display. The Challenger currently runs the Uconnect 4 infotainment system, a generation behind the Uconnect 5 launching on the 2021 Dodge Durango. It’s still a reasonably quick and easy-to-use system and, among other things, it adds features like a real-time dyno graph, g-force heat map and “much more,” says Dodge, for the Super Stock.
Drive Impressions: Sadly, we didn’t have the chance to put the 2021 Dodge Challenger Super Stock through its paces on a drag strip during our visit to Charlotte. What the automaker claims is that the coupe will pass through the traps at a quarter-mile in just 10.5 seconds. That’s fully 0.3 seconds faster than last year’s SS. Another way to measure performance is that it will get there three cars lengths ahead of the 2020 model.
We did have the chance to take the Super Stock out on a road course circuit and while the drag strip tuning of tires and suspension clearly impact the car’s ability to corner, it, nonetheless, proved a lot more nimble than we’d have expected. We were able to flog it hard around corners without any unexpected problems, the coupe’s steering proving reasonably crisp and predictable.
The downsizing of the front Brembo brakes won’t matter much on a drag strip or even on the street. And, in reality, they’re still large enough to scrub off a lot of speed, even after running lap after lap. That said, they’re clearly not a match for the Brembos on the Hellcat Widebody, as we discovered approaching a 90-degree bend at the end of a long straight at 129 mph. We made it through but it demanded a lot of work by the right foot.
Wrap Up: As a dedicated muscle car brand, Dodge is really living up to its mantra. The good news is that it’s not trying to live in the past. While the Challenger may be a prime example of “heritage” design, the Dodge definition of performance is a lot more inclusive than in the so-called “golden age” of muscle. Unlike what we knew back in the 1960s and ’70s, today’s models are surprisingly good at turning, steering and braking.
That said, the Challenger Super Stock is much more of a classic, straight-line sled than other Hellcat offerings, such as the Widebody. Intentionally so. It specifically targets the drag strip, though it has decent manners on the street and can even manage a road course if you want to work at it.
The first of the 2021 Dodge Challenger Super Sport coupes should be reaching showrooms right about now, at a starting price of around $79,000. Add both delivery fees and a federal gas guzzler surcharge.