Dodge Challenger R/T Scat Pack | Driven


American cars are good now, in case you hadn't heard. Not all of them, of course, but certainly the performance variants that Detroit has turned out over the past few years have been very enjoyable indeed. This is especially the case when they're sampled Stateside, the place that by and large they were, y'know, designed for.

Over there, Nurburgring-honed European machines can appear overly focussed, unforgiving even, while highly-strung Asian sports cars often feel outmatched by the scale of their surroundings. The home team, on the other hand, is often bestowed with a more relaxed gait that, while easily mistaken for aloofness on UK roads, lends them a certain approachability when it comes to covering the kind of ground that American drivers do.

And that's a lot. A 32-mile round trip each day for the average US commuter, a journey nearly double that of their UK counterparts and often undertaken on road surfaces which would be unrecognisable to a European motorist. The thought of driving an M2 Competition or TT RS over the disjointed concrete slabs that qualify as a Californian Interstate is enough to keep you up at night.


A Dodge Challenger on the other hand? Sign me up. A Challenger R/T Scat Pack with the widebody kit (a $6,000 option) and six-speed manual transmission to be precise, a car which, to my mind at least, represents the last true bastion of American muscle. Why? That engine for starters, a 6.4-litre Hemi V8 that sends all of its 485hp and 475lb ft of torque to the rear wheels and their 245/45 Pirelli P Zero tyres. Big engine, big power, rear-wheel drive and a manual 'box - so far, so good.

Does it look the part? Do we even need to discuss it? This generation of Challenger may be getting a little long in the tooth, but despite several iterations of Mustang and Camaro coming and going during its lifetime, it still edges the contest for me. Throw in the widebody arches, 20-inch Devil's Rim (yes, really) wheels, plus the splitter, bonnet and wrap-around rear wing from the Hellcat, and there's no simply contest.

While its rivals have played fastback and loose with the rules of muscle car design, erring ever more on the side of the sports coupe in search of greater global appeal, the Challenger has remained unapologetically American. Its squared proportions, 1,950kg kerb weight and two metre width don't care whether they're at home on the streets of Barcelona or Brighton, and they're all the better for it.


Though everyone else has moved on, then, the Challenger DNA remains firmly rooted in the glory days of Motor City; but that's not to say there aren't plenty of little details which bring everything up to date. The illuminated air intakes within the headlights, adjustable driving modes and little colour-coded Challenger which mirrors your every twist and turn on the sat-nav screen all serve to ensure that this blast from the past remains at home in the 21st century.

And the formula works just as well here as it always has. The enormous seats may not offer much in the way of bolstering - but you're hardly going to be needing it in this, are you? - and they're all the better for it. Regularly proportioned adults can fit somewhat comfortably in the rear, which can't be said for most performance 'imports' and, thanks to the Challenger's five-metre length, you could probably fit another three in the boot if necessary.

The view out is hardly panoramic, with things getting particularly bad further back - although the indispensable blind-spot monitor helps greatly in that regard - but no matter. Peering over the vast expanse of the bonnet, the reflection of the LA traffic's tail lights distorting across its scoops and dips as the sunset silhouettes the palm trees against the horizon is the kind of evocative automotive experience which is all too lacking these days. And then you put your foot down.


The Scat Pack launches itself in much the same way as a Saturn V, and with a comparable soundtrack, too. It doesn't snap your head back in your seat, or blur the edges of your vision like many modern cars can, but rather unleashes a sense of near limitless thrust which builds before you know it into greater speed than something this size and shape has any right to achieve. You don't feel like you need a solar system's worth of space to manoeuvre the Challenger, either, with its blunt facia making placing it surprisingly easy to judge and its steering pleasingly direct.

Then there's the Scat Pack's party piece. In starting at under $40,000, over $20,000 less than a Hellcat, it also meets one of the most important prerequisites established by the original pony cars: affordability. Sure, a Hellcat is great value for money, a lot of bang for your buck, but affordable? Not really. With the average cost of a new car in the United States standing at $36,590, the Scat Pack can truly claim to be just that.

The Challenger Scat Pack hits the nail on the head, then. Where Ford's Mustang Performance Pack 2 tried a little too hard to be something it wasn't, the Dodge is more than comfortable in its own skin and offers a comfortable, practical (as insane as that sounds) and exciting driving experience. No, it's not a Hellcat, but the Scat Pack has all the show, and more than enough go for someone who's engagement with the drag community is more likely to involve an episode of Ru Paul than a quarter-mile sprint. And whatsmore, it's available for an absolute steal.


SPECIFICATION - DODGE CHALLENGER R/T SCAT PACK
Engine:
6,423cc, V8
Transmission: 6-speed manual, rear-wheel drive
Power (hp): 485@6,100rpm
Torque (lb ft): 475@4,100rpm
0-62mph: 4.4 seconds
Top speed: 155mph
Weight: 1,950kg
MPG: 21
CO2: N/A
Price: £98,418














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Comments (66) Join the discussion on the forum

  • TOOMANYMS 02 Jun 2019

    I’ve got the charger scat pack and it is absolutely unbelievable for the money.

  • Wolvesboy 02 Jun 2019

    Love these. Less than $US40k in the US, 98K pounds in the UK & god knows what in Australia. Really pees me off.

  • The Moose 02 Jun 2019

    Wolvesboy said:
    Love these. Less than $US40k in the US, 98K pounds in the UK & god knows what in Australia. Really pees me off.
    If you want one/some, I’d be happy to source them for you over here wink

  • macky17 02 Jun 2019

    Sounds like the perfect Challenger. I’d like to hear from people who drive one in the UK. Are they just a little too big to enjoy anywhere but an A road?

  • AndySheff 02 Jun 2019

    98k ??!! Where do you get that from ? Paid significantly less than that for my Hellcat.

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