Much like its two-door Challenger sibling, the Dodge Charger SRT 392 is designed to appeal to your inner child- a matchbox toy come to life, a brightly-coloured guilty pleasure that’s too loud, too powerful and way too fast to resist.
Man, are they ever fun- too much almost.
As I said a couple weeks back after spending a week hooning around in a bright orange Challenger, it’s not a purchase your rational mind could ever justify and yet that is precisely why these cars are so appealing. Seldom has such a selfish choice felt so bloody good!
In the immortal words of John McClane in Die Hard, ‘yippee-ki-yay motherf***er!’
Sure, Dodge engineers have jammed the Charger full of modern technology – collision warning, blind spot detection, loads of airbags, etc. – but who cares, really? None of that stuff contributes to even one sale of a car this musclebound.
Nah, just press the start button and listen to that 392 cubic-inch (6.4-litre) SRT HEMI V8 gurgle to life and then you’ll know. Oh yeah... that’s the stuff. Rev it a bit just to get yourself in the go-fast mood. That’s it... that’s good.
Now grab the stubby action-grip shifter and slide the 8-speed TorqueFlight automatic transmission into drive, lean on the gas and free the 485 ponies trapped under the Charger’s vast hood-scooped engine cover.
Feel the rush and listen to the guttural roar as the 392’s 475 lb-ft. of torque launch you past posted speed limits faster than you can say SRT.
Grin, and perhaps even let out a wild cackle or two, as you forget why you ever cared about mundane things like insurance premiums and average fuel economy ratings.
See? Yeah... now you get it. Now you know why the Charger SRT 392 is so sinfully delightful to drive.
The trade-offs that come with ownership are undeniable, of course. Fun has its price.
For instance, if you average 13.7L/100 km fuel consumption on a regular basis, as I did this past week, you’ll get the chance to build deep and lasting friendships with each and every attendant at your local gas station.
On the plus side, the Charger does have a higher utility quotient than the Challenger thanks to an extra set of doors and a cavernous trunk. However, the rear door openings are small and the seating area, while comfortable, is cramped for adult-sized passengers. If you are even slightly tall, you'll find rear seat headroom quite confining.
Another nit to pick is rearward visibility which, much like the Challenger, isn’t great. The rear windows are small which make blind spots large, so even with blind spot detection warnings lighting up the side mirrors, lane changes are hairier than in cars with larger windows.
But to my mind none of these are dealbreakers. Even the less-than-stellar fuel economy average – which is aided to some degree by the 392’s MDS (multi-displacement system) feature which turns the V8 into a four-cylinder by deactivating cylinders when they're not needed – doesn’t really detract from the Charger’s appeal because it is part and parcel of owning a car built on compromises that are as plain as the nose on your face.
Same goes for its looks, which are unapologetically retro and drenched in early-1970s nostalgia everywhere you turn, from the slab-sided design language down to the details which include optional red seat belts, overstuffed Laguna leather seats, a round-gauge instrument cluster and smattering of SRT and 392 badges.
It is what it is, in other words, and as trite as that sounds, it fits for a car as singular in its purpose as this one.
Practical? No, not really. But that's not why you're here. You're here because you want visceral thrills.
And the Charger SRT 392 delivers. In spades.
Next week: 2017 Nissan 370Z Touring Coupe. Note – due to the Labour Day long weekend I won’t be picking the car up until Tuesday. Look for the update then.
SPECIFICATIONS - 2016 Dodge Charger SRT 392
BASE PRICE / AS TESTED: $55,995 / $61,355 (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: 1,987.6 kg
CONFIGURATION: front engine, rear-wheel drive
TRANSMISSION: 8-speed TorqueFlight automatic
FUEL ECONOMY RATINGS (CITY / HWY. / COMB.): 15.7 / 9.5 / 12.9
WARRANTY (MOS. / KM): 36 / 60,000
ALTERNATIVES: Chevrolet Camaro SS, Dodge Challenger SRT 392, Ford Mustang GT (not sedans, I realize, but cut from a similar cloth and with similar compromises)
Photography by Lee Bailie