Track Tested: Challenger SRT Hellcat Redeye vs. Challenger R/T Scat Pack Widebody

It's not always easy to one-up past accomplishments, especially when said milestone is the most powerful factory muscle car ever to have been unleashed on American streets, but you've got to give SRT credit for trying. The 2019 model year brings a host of changes to its flagship Challenger, and even in the wake of last year's 840hp Demon drag car, it offers more than enough to keep horsepower hooligans hooked.

I had the chance to sample two of the most intriguing Challenger additions, the SRT Hellcat Redeye and the Scat Pack Widebody, at Club Motorsports in Tamworth, New Hampshire, and after a day spent at full throttle, I came away surprised with which version of the best-selling coupe impressed me the most.

Demon-Bred

The marquee name in the 2019 Challenger stable is the Redeye, a mind-bending merger of the now-departed, limited edition SRT Demon and the equally portentous Hellcat. Available in both widebody and narrowbody editions, the Redeye borrows its engine directly from the Demon, but subtracts the race gas tune to settle power at a still-ridiculous 797hp and 707 lb-ft of torque.

Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat Redeye

Other Demon goodies along for the ride in the Redeye include its eight-speed automatic transmission (there's no third-pedal on offer), unique Power Chiller system for keeping the intake cool in between runs, ability to forgo the rear seat for the most minute of weight savings, and of course, line lock. 

To say that the Redeye is a monster is an understatement. This is a car that eviscerates the quarter mile in 10.8 seconds at 131 mph (in widebody form), while eclipsing the 60 mph mark from a standing start in an incredible 3.4 seconds. Helping you slow down from those speeds are six-piston front Brembos, and an adaptive, driver-adjustable suspension system helps to hold the car's 4,400 lbs of curb weight as poised as possible should you swap in a road course for a drag strip.

Wider, Better, Faster, Stronger

In comparison, the 2019 Dodge Challenger R/T Scat Pack Widebody might seem like somewhat of a consolation prize, what with its more modest 485hp from a 6.4L V8 (backed with 475 lb-ft of twist). Look closer, past its new pumped-up stance and the improvement in mechanical grip that comes with it, and you'll discover that the Scat Pack Widebody is actually the stealth replacement for the now-departed SRT 392 model.

Dodge Challenger R/T Scat Pack Widebody

What this means is that the Scat Pack Widebody moves past the cruiser connotations of the standard Scat Pack and adds track-oriented SRT goodies like adaptive dampers, stiffer springs and improved aero. This is over and above across-the-board Scat Pack improvements that include line lock, selectable drive modes and launch control (as well as the same dual-snorkel hood found on the Redeye and the standard Hellcat). Also notable: the ability to choose between either a six-speed manual or an eight-speed automatic transmission.

Head-To-Head

From a dig or highway pull, it's clear that the Redeye has an enormous advantage over the Scat Pack Widebody, not just under the hood—although the 200+ additional horsepower certainly make a difference—but also in terms of throttle response. Stomping your right foot in the Hellcat Redeye is very nearly the equivalent of strapping yourself to a jetpack in a zero-g environment, delivering seemingly endless acceleration of such a ponderously weighty vehicle that you begin to wonder what other laws of physics the car can bend to its will.

Juxtapose this storm surge over the track map of your favorite road course, especially one with as many elevation changes as Club Motorsports, and you begin to discover that while the Redeye's 797hp will free you as they gallop down the straights, they can also corral you into an awkward position should you not respect their capacity for unbridled forward momentum.

Specifically, there were numerous instances during my time pushing the Hellcat Redeye around Tamworth's tighter turns where I felt like I was managing the car more than driving it. Staying one step ahead of the Redeye's power curve is a full-time job, and it required me to rethink how I would normally approach certain corners, not to mention redial my braking zones given how much speed the Challenger carried at the end of longer straights and downhill sections.

Redeye and Scat Pack

Sliding behind the wheel of the Scat Pack Widebody was a revelation. After the frenetic pace instilled by the Redeye (a vehicle that had also been tuned for the most neutral suspension response possible) the stiffer front end on the Scat Pack, combined with its lighter, naturally-aspirated engine, delivered markedly more assured turn-in, with enough of a hinted-at safety net to ensure plow, rather than snap, results from over-enthusiasm.

As impressive as the Redeye's ability was to make the 485hp from the Scat Pack Widebody feel "slow," the ability to roll into the throttle without having to worry about gobs of right-now torque also made for a more natural lap. In fact, I found myself adjusting how quickly I could get on the gas on corner exit to the point where what had been eggshells in the Hellcat Redeye was full-bore to the floor in the still-quick Scat Pack.

Personal Preference

Neither the Challenger SRT Hellcat Redeye nor the R/T Scat Pack Widebody make any claims to being pure sports cars. These are muscle machines that have been massaged, tweaked and tuned to conceal their bulk as best they can when hustled around a closed course, and given enough—or in the case of the Redeye, way, way, more than enough—horsepower to keep them entertaining in almost any driving situation.

It's that last sentence that stuck with me after the tire smoke had dissipated and the brakes had cooled off at the end of the day. Really, each of these cars is aimed at a very different driver, each with their own idea of what would be considered a fun day at the track.

On the Track

For someone like me, the lower-key Scat Pack Widebody presents the opportunity to push both car and myself as a pilot as hard as I feel comfortable with, and not surpass the limits of the vehicle. The Redeye, on the other hand, commands your complete and total respect the entire time you're turning a lap, the crushing weight of its mighty hammer hovering over your head—and taking up significant clock cycles in your brain—from green to checker

The bottom line? One might be faster, and the other more "fun," but the fact that either exists at all is a testament to the golden age of automotive madness that modern-day gearheads are lucky enough to be living in.

Want to know more about the Redeye and Scat Pack? We covered both of their announcements.

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