The Dodge Challenger SRT 392 is a balls-out, punch-to-the-solar-plexus, hey-look-at-me kind of car like no other.
I mean, just look at this thing – retro muscle car styling wrapped in Go Mango Orange with black stripes, massive 20-inch wheels and 392 HEMI fender badges. It’s very presence screams LOOK AT ME!!
Even among muscle cars, the Challenger and its four-door Charger sibling seem particularly brutish. While Chevy and Ford have elected to smooth down the rougher edges of its pony cars with the current gen Camaro and Mustang, Dodge has doubled down on early ‘70s nostalgia with the Challenger.
And on upper-level trims like the SRT 392, which is one step down from the 707-horsepower SRT Hellcat, the retro is ladled on extra thick.
But the strategy works because the Challenger SRT 392 is aimed at a very specific consumer that is overwhelmingly male and firmly in middle age, and those buyers love the car’s unapologetic emphasis on brute force and its complete lack of restraint.
The Challenger SRT 392 is loud and aggressive and it's no fuel sipper – its chugs gas like frat boys guzzle beer at a keg party. And while owners might not love its fuel-sucking tendencies, it’s a trade-off they’re more than willing to accept. For many, it’s a badge of honour, a middle finger in the face of moderation that they’re proud to show off.
And who can blame them, really? The Challenger SRT 392 is a hell of a lot of fun to bomb around in, even at low speeds and in city traffic.
Finished in bright Go Mango orange with a bold, brick-like profile, tiny windows (and massive C-pillar blind spots), a hood scoop and large twin exhaust outlets, our tester prowls the streets like a latter day sabretooth tiger in search of unsuspecting prey.
The 6.4-litre (392 cubic-inch) SRT HEMI V8 growls loudly at all speeds, backfiring gently under deceleration and roaring back to life when the accelerator is pressed even lightly. The six-speed Tremec manual transmission pairs quite well with the 392 HEMI with a surprisingly light clutch and precise shifter.
Add it all up, and the Challenger SRT 392’s 485 horsepower and 475-lb-ft. of torque is readily accessible, thanks in large measure to a delightfully flat torque curve (4,200 rpm peak) and meaty P275/40ZR20 Pirelli P Zero high performance rubber.
You get my drift – it’s a fast car.
And it's pretty good on the inside, too. The perforated Laguna leather SRT performance seats offer good support, despite being a bit overstuffed, and the user interfaces are blissfully straightforward.
Hard switches and buttons for the climate controls and driving mode selector are definite plusses, and while the design aesthetic might lack refinement, it suits the personality of the car and the fit and finish appear to be quite good.
Perhaps the best way to sum up the Challenger SRT 392 is by simply saying what you see is what you get.
And what you get is quite a bit of fun, balls-out style.
Next week: Due to circumstances beyond our control, we're off next week. Our apologies for that, but please watch this space on Aug. 29 when we get behind the wheel of the stablemate of the Challenger SRT 392, the 2016 Dodge Charger SRT 392. Thanks for your patience and see you a week from Monday!
SPECIFICATIONS - 2016 Dodge Challenger SRT 392
BASE PRICE / AS TESTED: $57,495 / $62,360 (incl. $1,795 destination)
ENGINE: 6.4L (392 cu. in.) SRT HEMI V8
HORSEPOWER: 485hp @ 6,000 rpm
TORQUE: 475 lb-ft. @ 4,200 rpm
DRY WEIGHT: 1,940 kg
CONFIGURATION: front engine, rear-wheel drive
TRANSMISSION: 6-speed Tremec manual
FUEL ECONOMY RATINGS (CITY / HWY. / COMB.): 16.8 / 10.4 / 13.9
WARRANTY (MOS. / KM): 36 / 60,000
ALTERNATIVES: Chevrolet Camaro SS, Ford Mustang GT
Photography by Lee Bailie