I drove the 6.1 Challenger!
What up HUB heads…
One of the best perks of the HUB is the networking we can do.
Case in point: fellow hubster BJ Killeen, the author of the fantastic Build Books, www.hubgarage.com/mygarage/teamkilleen, contacted me though the HUB and asked if I would like to drive the new Dodge Challenger. I of course jumped at the chance.
She had the factory Challenger for one week to drive it daily and then report her impressions. BJ said she was blown away by the car, its power and amenities.
I drove over to test drive it on Saturday afternoon. I spotted the Challenger from a block away, sitting in the driveway gleaming like an orange jewel.
The first thing I noticed when I pulled up at Casa de Killeen was that the car had those beautiful blue Michigan manufacturer plates. Something about those makes a gearhead flush with glee. The car in person is absolutely beautiful. I’ve seen a bunch around the shows now and I’m always impressed. There’s not a bad line anywhere. This is mainly due to the designers retention of the original design, and improving on it very subtly. In fact, molds of the original Challenger’s side mirrors were taken to recreated them for the new version. The car has a slightly longer wheelbase and definitely bigger trunk than the original and this gives it a bigger and beefier presence than its grand dad.
With the key in my pocket, the start/stop button is a great advancement. The seats hug your sides and the cabin is sealed and quiet once you slam closed the solid door.
Amazingly, the cockpit feels almost exactly like my Magnum. Plenty of head and leg room, the console and controls are easy to read and cool to look at. The door perfectly incorporates the arm rest and the steering wheel is solid and soft at the same time. Beautiful use of carbon fiber and leather make the interior a perfect blend of comfort and performance.
We pulled out of the driveway and the first thing I noticed was how solid the car feels and drives. It wants to go, badly. Its almost as if the car waits a second longer in second gear, to see if you are going to hammer it. If not it slinks into third and smoothes out. We pulled onto the 101 North and I did get to HAMMER it. I floored it going up the carpool lane and my body let go some adrenaline. All 6.1 liters were in full effect as we flew onto the freeway. I unfortunately had to slow up due to some of that wonderful So Cal traffic and the brakes were amazing. The factory car was fitted with Brembos, 4 piston in the front and 2 in the back. Soft feel and complete braking control.
We exited the 101 and did some street driving and it seemed like every other person was craning their neck top get a look at the car. BJ says she had nearly caused several accidents whild she was driving the Challenger. Its simply one of the best looking new cars on the road if not THE best. To say its a head-turner is a huge understatement. Like the Mustang redux before it and the new Camaro to come, this car is going to have a tremendous impact.
We took the freeway back so I jumped on the throttle a little harder this time up the ramp and I literally got butterflies in my stomach. This car has serious torque. I love it!! The 2008 model was only offer with the 6.1 / auto trans combo. 2009 brings the 5.7 Liter and manual trans. THAT will be fun. I can’t imagine the trouble I could have gotten into with a factory stick car.
I’m sure we will all see a ton of these cars on the road. When the 5.7 liter and V6 models hit the market (and hopefully not every rental company) they will be everywhere. this new Challenger is the real deal: style performance and heritage. The ultimate combination.
Thanks again BJ for letting me drive this fantastic car!!