Call them the brute and the ballet master. They are the 2020 Dodge Charger Widebody models: the SRT Hellcat and the Scat Pack.
No tutus allowed, they were introduced in full roar in wine country, California, around Napa Valley and at the Sonoma Raceway near the city of the same name. It is 2.5 miles and a dozen of sometimes blind corners and 160 feet of elevation changes.
Dodge has a Challenger lineup as well but nobody can challenge the fact that this automaker is the champion of mass-produced performance cars, including the Hellcat, the fastest four-door you can find.
Not that we have to tell Dodge enthusiasts, but the SRT Hellcat V8 pumps out 707 hp and can nail 60 mph in 3.6 seconds and the quarter mile in 10.96 seconds, with a top speed of 196 mph. Those are Dodge specs, but who’s to argue?
That’s the brute. The ballet master is the Scat Pack, powered by the 6.4-liter (392 cubic inches) Hemi V8 engine that delivers 485 hp and 475 lb-ft of torque, enough to hit 60 mph in 4.3 seconds and the quarter-mile in 12.4 seconds.
It is the focus here as the most affordable and best handling of the two, though the tester had a base price of $41,490 and a bottom-line sticker price of $58,245. But never mind. There are plenty of other Chargers for other income brackets, including a basic SXT model that looks almost the same for $31,390, including the destination fee.
Both the $71,140 Hellcat and the Scat Pack came with the Widebody package, which adds fender flares and 20-inch wheels that are 11 inches wide. The treatment stretches the Widebody models to a width of 6 feet 6 inches at the haunches.
It’s reminiscent of 1959, when Pontiac introduced its Wide-Track models. The idea was to stress stability and handling, though there were few decent handling U.S. cars in the 1950s and 1960s. As race driver and entrepreneur Carroll Shelby once opined: “Great motors. Couldn’t turn, couldn’t stop.”
That cannot be said any more of American muscle cars, and the 2020 Charger Scat Pack Widebody is the prime example. Though it is nearly 17 feet long and weighs 385 pounds more than two tons, it is one of the sweetest handling machines you can find.
With the driver cosseted in well-bolstered suede sport seats that grip the torso, aided by well-weighted power steering, sport suspension upgrades and sticky tires on the 20X11-inch wheels, the Scat Pack Widebody calmly gobbles curves and corners on the road and race track.
Though you can use the steering-wheel mounted paddle shifters, there’s no need. The eight-speed automatic transmission picks the proper gear for the situation all by itself. And Brembo performance disc brakes engineered by Dodge stop the Scat Pack Widebody in 107 feet from 60 mph, according to the manufacturer’s specifications.
One principle behind all the Charger models, as expressed by the Dodge boys, is to provide a four-door sedan that a family can drive from coast to coast but also delivers exhilarating performance.
But if you do plan to undertake long-distance travel, the Scat Pack Widebody may not be the choice unless you enjoy the constant burbling of a powerful V8 engine. You can mitigate it somewhat because the Scat Pack has five selectable driving modes, the noisiest of which is the Sport setting, which holds transmission shifts to higher rpms. Better to select one of the more sedate, even economical, modes.
Classified as a large car by the federal government because of its interior volume, the Scat Pack Widebody has 105 cubic feet for passengers and a big, well-finished trunk of 17 cubic feet. There was no spare wheel, likely to aid front to rear weight distribution. An air pump nestled beneath the trunk floor.
For traveling, the back seat is comfortable for only two. The center-rear passenger must contend with a hard cushion, giant floor hump and intrusion of the center console.
The Widebody models are distinguished by a so-called mail slot grille with openings designed to enhance brake and engine cooling. The fender flares accommodate the wide tires.
Mark Trostle, Fiat Chrysler’s head of performance, passenger and utility vehicle design, described the new Hellcat and Scat Pack Widebody models: “The goal was to make them badass, intimidating and timeless.”
There’s no argument here.
- Model: 2020 Dodge Charger Scat Pack Widebody four-door sedan.
- Engine: 6.4 liter (392 cubic inches) V8; 485 hp, 475 lb-ft torque.
- Transmission: Eight-speed automatic with manual-shift mode and rear-wheel drive.
- Overall Length: 16 feet 9 inches.
- Width: 6 feet 6 inches.
- EPA/SAE passenger/trunk volume: 105/17 cubic feet.
- Weight: 4,385 pounds.
- EPA city/highway/combined fuel consumption: Est. 15/24/18 mpg. Premium fuel.
- Base price, including destination charge: $41,490.
- Price as tested: $58,245.
Disclaimer: This test drive was conducted at a manufacturer-sponsored press event. The manufacturer provided travel, accommodations, vehicles, meals and fuel.
Photos (c) FCA North America