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Dodge Challenger 2019: is this the RHD-ready muscle car for Oz?

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Dodge Challenger 2019: is this the RHD-ready muscle car for Oz?
Dodge Challenger 2019: is this the RHD-ready muscle car for Oz?
Dodge Challenger 2019: is this the RHD-ready muscle car for Oz?

Dodge has unveiled its updated Challenger muscle car range, including a fuel-burning, tyre-frying Hellcat Redeye that will surely stalk environmentalists’ nightmares.

It’s the show-stealing star of the updated Challenger family, with the new Redeye variant building on the already really very powerful Hellcat variant, adding even more grunt and reporting a near-tonne of torque.

The numbers are a little mind-boggling, too. The full-production SRT Hellcat Redeye produces a staggering 594kW and 959Nm. Just let that sink in for a moment.

The Redeye’s supercharged 6.2-litre V8 (the same that lives inside the limited-run Challenger SRT Demon from last year) has already helped it lay claim to a swag-bag of titles, including the most powerful production V8, as well as quickest production muscle car, capable of knocking off the sprint to 60mph (just under 100km/h) in 3.4 seconds.

The great unanswered question, though, is whether this is the RHD-ready Challenger promised by FCA in Australia. The company has made no secret of its desire to launch the Challenger locally, and has often flagged this model update as the moment a right-hand-drive model would be engineered for our market.

But that was also at a time when the Challenger was tipped to adopt the Alfa Romeo Giorgio platform – the same that underpins the Italian brand’s Giulia sedan. Instead, this 2019 update uses the existing Challenger platform as its base.

While local representatives have so far remained tight-lipped on the model overhaul, they are yet to rule out an Australian debut, with a live business case to introduce the Challenger in our market still thought to be before FCA’s global executives.

“We have nothing to announce at this stage,” says FCA Australia’s Tracie Stoltenburg.

In the meantime, Dodge is having much marketing fun with the fact the Redeye is so closely related to the Demon special-edition, saying the the new Challenger flagship has been “possessed by the Demon”.

“With 840 horsepower, a 9.65s quarter-mile time and Guinness World Record certification that it’s the first production car to lift the wheels at launch, the Dodge Challenger SRT Demon earned its place in the record books,” says Dodge passenger car boss, Steve Beahm.

“The Dodge Brothers would be proud that we’re leveraging the power and performance of this proven engine to bring a Demon-possessed Challenger SRT Hellcat Redeye to an even wider high-performance enthusiast audience.”
 
Both the SRT Hellcat and Hellcat Redeye are available in standard or widebody styles, and while the Redeye can be had only with an eight-speed automatic, the standard Hellcat can be ordered with a manual transmission. Launch control, launch assist and adaptive dampers all arrive as standard, too.

Further down the pecking order, the lesser Dodge Challenger models have been overhauled for 2019, too. And while they lack the headline-stealing numbers of the Hellcat variants, Dodge is quick to point out that, with up to 362kW under their redesigned bonnets, they offer the “most muscle for the dollar in the segment”.

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