C8 Corvette vs Challenger Hellcat: The Best Way to Spend 70K?
While not chump change by any means, there’s something interesting about the $60,000-70,000 price range when it comes to brand new performance cars.
At roughly twice the price of the average new vehicle sold in America, a car in this price range requires a significant investment, but unlike many supercars and exotics a $60,000-$70,000 vehicle can still be considered a relatable goal for a lot of enthusiasts.
There are a lot of great new cars available in this range, but when it comes to modern high performance American cars two that come to mind are the Dodge Challenger Hellcat and the new 2020 C8 Chevy Corvette.
Aside from being made by American companies and coming with V8 engines, the Challenger Hellcat and the C8 Corvette don't share too many traits. But the factory pricing for both of them lines up very closely.
Both have MSRPs that start around $60,000 with options pushing them up into the $70,000s. And while they are clearly aimed at different kind of buyers, both deliver an incredible dollar to performance ratio. There's no wrong choice between the two, but let's break them down a bit.
A Tale of Two V8s
When it comes to engines, the Hellcat's takes the cake by most metrics.
For 2020, the Hellcat's 6.2 liter supercharged Hemi V8 makes 717 horsepower and 656 pound feet of torque while the more powerful Redeye model makes 797 horsepower and 707 pound feet of torque.
The Corvette on the other hand makes "only" 495 horsepower 470 pound feet of torque from its naturally aspirated 6.2 liter LT2 V8. Of course the Corvette is a much lighter car than the Challenger, meaning it can do more with less power. With its lighter weight and better traction, the C8 should beat even a Challenger Redeye to 60 miles per hour, while quarter mile times for the two should be very close.
Also worth nothing is the fact that C8 is only available with an eight-speed dual clutch automatic transmission while the Challenger Hellcat can still be had with a six-speed manual gearbox. For the time being, those who want to row their own will have to look elsewhere than the C8.
Lightweight vs Practicality
As we just mentioned, the C8 is a significantly lighter car than a Challenger Hellcat—by about 800 pounds or so.
Naturally this helps it do all of the "sports car" things better than the Dodge - braking, handling, circuit lap times and so on.
Yet that also means that C8 is much less practical car for every day use. Its interior has just two seats, with a much lower seating position and its cockpit is very tight when compared to the Challenger's wide confines.
While the Corvette doesn't even have a rear seat, the one in the Challenger can hold most adults comfortably, and the amount of extra cargo capacity with the Challenger's full-size trunk is no contest. If you are simply looking for a weekend toy this stuff may not matter, but if you plan on daily driving it the Challenger has some significant advantages in usability.
The Value Question
Both the C8 Corvette and the Challenger Hellcat have an MSRP that starts at about $60,000, but there are some differences that should be considered. For the Corvette, the Z51 performance package should be considered a necessity at $5,000 ,and with a few other smaller options $70,000 is a solid ballpark price for a basic 1LT model.
With the C8 Corvette being new to the market, dealer markup is going to be an issue unfortunately. A glance around online shows asking prices of around $10,000-15,000 above MSRP for a lot of cars, and even if one can be had at sticker price it's going to be quite a while before any discounts can be had on a C8.
The Hellcat on the other hand has been around for a while now, and with Dodge's liberal factory incentives its easy to find a Hellcat or Redeye priced well below sticker price. An online search shows a lot of cars available for roughly $10,000 below their MSRP. This means that while their MSRPs may be similar, the Dodge should have substantially lower transaction prices for the time being.
Muscle Car vs Sports Car
Even before it moved to a mid-engine layout, the Corvette always more of a sports car than a muscle car. But with its new engine layout and radically different look, the C8 is even less of a "muscle car" than it's ever been.
The Challenger Hellcat on the other hand is un-aplogetic muscle machine remade for modern times. It uses the classic front-engine, rear-drive layout and when compared to the C8 it has a larger engine, more horsepower and is a much larger car. all around.
That's not to say thet one is better than ever. If track performance, precision handling and the latest technology are your thing, the C8 should be the easy pick. If you want a modern muscle car with plenty of space inside, a relaxed nature on the highway and the ability to smoke its rear tires with ease, the Hellcat is king.
All things considered, the Hellcat and C8 Corvette each represent two very different sides of the performance car spectrum and will appeal to very different types of drivers.
In actuality there might not be many buyers who will cross shop the two of them, but the fact that both cars are can be had for similar money with such high credentials are just another sign of the golden era of performance we are currently living in.
Of course the Hellcat is just one the cars the new C8 Corvette could stack up against. You can see here how it compares to the Acura NSX.