2021 dodge hellcat srt
Car and Driver

So, you start with more than 700 horsepower. That’s enough to motivate it down the quarter mile in less than 11 seconds. You know how an entire movie was built around building a 10-second car, Brian O’Conner? This is a 10-second car that you can just go buy, and no one has to get shot. 

We’re talking about the Dodge Hellcat. We don’t have to tell you it’s fast. There are a hundred other places to find that out. Instead, we want to ask a question: is the Hellcat a supercar? 

What Is a Supercar?

supercars on track

Woah! Hold on! Before you take to the keyboard, hear us out, because it’s more complicated than it seems. And we like talking about cars, so let’s discuss it. We’ll start with something seemingly simple: what is a supercar?

I’m sure you have an idea, but there is no dictionary definition, and if you ask 10 people you get 10 different answers. Ferrari says a supercar is defined by speed and exclusivity, Top Gear says that a supercar must push the limits of what a car can do, and Car and Driver in the 60s said supercars were just the fastest muscle cars. 

AMC even uses “SC”, which stands for “Super Car“, to define their fastest Rambler. Hold on. By the definition of AMC and Car and Driver, the Hellcat is a supercar. Case closed. Well, not exactly. Words and language evolve, and ever since the 80s, no one has used the word supercar to mean muscle car.

Supercar has to be a definition that evolves. A very fast car in the 50s, something that would have been a supercar like the Mercedes 300SL, would be left at the light by a new Camry. It wouldn’t even be close, the 300SL did 0 to 60 in 9 seconds, compared to a Camry’s 5.8 seconds. Damn. 

So, you can’t say, “These cars are supercars based on these numbers.” Those numbers are constantly improving, and the features are always improving. Technological progress just makes everything harder. There’s a famous quote concerning the Supreme Court of the USA, and it goes, “I may not be able to define it, but I know it when I see it. Now, Justice Steweart was talking about porn, but the idea still stands.

Even if you can’t fully define what a supercar is, you know what a supercar is when you see it. However, that’s not satisfying, and it doesn’t give you anything to argue about in the comments. So, after doing a ton of research, we’ve settled on the following definition to use for this video: a supercar is a street-legal sports car that is luxurious, exclusive, and very, very fast.

So, does the Hellcat fit that definition? We’ll take it step by step. First, is a Hellcat street-legal?

Is the Hellcat Street-Legal?

dodge hellcat redeye parked
Popular Mechanics

Yes. This might be easier than we thought. Okay, next, is the Hellcat a sports car?

Is the Hellcat A Sports Car?

2018 dodge charger hellcat

Here we run into a little bit of an issue. You see, there’s a few different definitions of sports car. But almost all the definitions emphasize handling, two seats, and a seating position that’s low.

The Hellcat does have great suspension, those Bilsteins can keep it planted on the ground without any issue. The suspension is adjustable and customized for the extra power that the motor creates. We have come a very long way from the poor handling muscle cars of the 60s. But the Hellcat is not the best handling car in its class. And the Charger has four doors and four seats, so that’s really stretching the definition.

However, these hard rules fall apart when you compare it to other cars. No one would argue that a Ferrari GTC4Lusso wasn’t a supercar, but it doesn’t handle as well as similar cars in its class, and it’s a four-seater. It even weighs about the same as a Hellcat Challenger. 

In fact, the definition of sports car gets really squishy, because if you google “supercar”, the Aston Martin Rapide AMR pops up. And here’s the thing: the Rapide has four doors. A low-slung, two-door custom car with great handling can easily be called a sports car, and that’s what the Challenger Hellcat is.  

So, it passes the second test. What about luxury? Ferraris and Lamborghinis pride themselves on luxury as well as performance, so is the Hellcat luxurious? 

Is the Hellcat Luxurious?

2018 dodge challenger hellcat interior

Compared to cars 20 years ago, the Hellcat has unreal luxury. Glass panels, a huge 8.4-inch touchscreen, ergonomic wheel, bolstered seats, hell, everything inside is touched with carbon fiber. You couldn’t even get that in a McLaren when they launched.

Compared to a modern supercar, though, like an Audi R8, the Hellcat’s American, utility-first interior feels very lacking. The R8 is molded to the driver. It’s like being in the cockpit of a fighter jet that’s built by Louis Vuitton. If you don’t know who that is, just think of literally the fanciest person you can think of, then dial it up by 10.

The Hellcat? It’s got cupholders, which is pretty cool, but it’s certainly not to the level of the R8, or even the C8 Corvette. But, some supercars don’t have any luxury. In the Acura NSX you get a steering wheel and a tiny screen, and the Lotus Evora somehow has even less features than the Acura. The Hellcat has both those cars beat in the luxury department. 

So, is the Hellcat’s interior at the same level as a supercar? Well, yeah. No one would argue that an NSX or Evora 400 wasn’t a supercar, and honestly we’d rather sit in the Hellcat. At least you wouldn’t hit your head every time you had to get out.

That’s three for three. This is a stronger case than we thought it’d be, but a supercar has to be exclusive, right? The rarity of a Lamborghini or LFA is part of what makes them what they are, and the Hellcat is just a spruced-up economy car. So, is a Hellcat exclusive? 

Is a Hellcat Exclusive?

2017 dodge challenger hellcat factory

Price and availability are the factors that keep most people out of supercars. There are only 14,000 Huracans produced so far, and they cost over $200,000 each. The Huracan is basically the entry-level Lamborghini, and it’s downright common compared to the Performante or most Ferraris.

If you break it down, that means about 2,800 Huracans were sold each year, meanwhile, the Hellcat Redeye is a common, everyday car that’s actually less common than a Huracan. Wait, what? It’s true. 

First, there are less than 4,000 Redeye Challengers on the road. That means there are 10,000 more Huracans driving around. You’re three times more likely to be in a $200,000 Lambo than a $80,000 Hellcat Redeye.

Even if you include all Hellcats, not just the Redeyes, there really aren’t that many of them. About 57,000 total Hellcats have been built, which means there’s approximately one Hellcat per 10,000 Corollas. I’m not a math wizard, but one in 10,000 seems kind of exclusive. 

For an even crazier comparison, if you really want to talk exclusive, there are more F-150s sold every two days, than there are the total number of Hellcats.

The Hellcat wouldn’t be the most exclusive supercar by any means, but there has to be a least exclusive supercar that is still exclusive. Why couldn’t the Hellcat be the cutoff? So, that only leaves one final question: is the Hellcat fast? 

Is the Hellcat Fast?

2015 dodge challenger hellcat burnout
Motor Authority

Yes, duh. That’s the whole point, which is why you could call it now. The Hellcat is a Supercar. Well, actually, here’s the thing: the Hellcat is fast. 11-second quarter mile? That’s damn fast. And a 7:51 around the Nurburgring? That’s faster than a V12 Vantage. You can’t say it isn’t a fast car.

But is it supercar fast? The truth is that it’s really not. And I can hear the hate typing in the comments section from here, but don’t get me wrong, it would destroy any early 2000s supercar around the Nurburgring. Plus, there are purpose-built drag cars that would lose in a quarter-mile race against the Hellcat. But modern supercars are just faster.

A Ferrari 458 completes the quarter mile run in the mid-10-second range. A 911 GT3 completed a lap around Nurburgring almost an entire minute faster than the Hellcat. Even the Viper, which was Dodge’s first love and often considered a supercar even though they discontinued it and broke our hearts, was 40 seconds faster around the Nurburgring. Plus, the 918, the previously-mentioned Huracan, the Atom 500, and even the Tesla P100D all get to 60 miles per hour faster than a Hellcat. 

The reality is, at the end of the day, the Hellcat can’t hang with modern supercars. Well, there you have it. By our metric, the Hellcat probably isn’t a supercar. Let the comment section ignite.

Except, there’s one thing we haven’t really touched on, the Hellcat has another level, a level that pushes the Dodge Challenger squarely into supercar territory. It’s rare, radical, and tears past the limit of what a car is capable of. It has a sub-10-second quarter mile time, and there literally isn’t a production car that gets to 60 miles per hour quicker. It’s called the Demon, and with 840 horsepower, compared to the Hellcat’s mere 700 horsepower, it will leave a lot of confirmed supercars in the dust. 

Plus, only one in 17 Hellcats is a Demon. How’s that for exclusive? Can you group the Demon in with the Hellcats? The new Hellcat Redeye is the replacement for the Demon, and it’s absolutely a Hellcat. They even use the same architecture, and it wouldn’t even be the first time that a car ascends to supercar status just because of a trim option.

The most famous is probably the Skyline. A Skyline is a decent sports car. It’s respectable, but not amazing. Upgrade it to the GTR, and suddenly it’s a supercar. Same with the 911, with the GT3RS being firmly in supercar territory. The base 911? Not so much. And this could go on. Corvette vs. Corvette ZR1. Viper vs. Viper ACR. Mercedes-AMG GT vs. AMG GT-Black.

Does the existence of the Demon package elevate the Hellcat? It’s a tough call.

The Final Verdict

2015 dodge charger hellcat srt

Going down the checklist, it’s easy to see how you could argue that the Hellcat is a supercar. So, before we get any further, tell us if you think it is in the comments. We’ll make it a poll. Just don’t get too carried away, “supercar” is a made up term. There is no “right” answer. This is all done in good fun. Remember that no matter what, the simple fact that we can even have this conversation is amazing.

The Hellcat is a production car that anyone can go buy. And the fact that there is even a question about whether or not it’s a supercar is really, really amazing. Honestly, It feels like ever since Dodge cancelled the Viper, we’ve been looking for their next track monster. The Hellcat proves they can make the horsepower. Just imagine if they made a lightweight, handling-focused car with that powerplant. That’s what I want.

But that’s also a reason that, in my personal opinion, the Hellcat falls short of being a supercar. It just doesn’t quite have the performance of something like a McLaren 720S, and it doesn’t have the exclusive, radical feel that a Ferrari has. So Dodge, we’re waiting for a car that we can call a supercar beyond a shadow of a doubt.

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