Push button. Honk twice. Two flashes. Two seconds later, the eight-cylinder naturally aspirated engine wakes up and makes every 40-meter yacht jealous with its deep-bass roar. Whether from a restaurant or the kitchen window at home, rarely has a deserted car caused such astonished looks as when the engine is started by a supposedly ghostly hand. The remote start, as it’s known in Dodge, is just one of the reasons why we fell head over heels in love with this car. But will our love for the Dodge Challenger SRT 392 last over the long-term test distance of 45,000 kilometers?
Premiere in the long-term test
November 21, 2018, 1 p.m. – the muscle car rolls out of the GeigerCars showroom in Munich and becomes a team member of the sport auto squad. This makes the Challenger the first US car ever to undergo the sport auto endurance test. And that’s not the only reason why the US displacement hero is a very special long-term test car.
Normally, we obtain our endurance test vehicles directly from the respective manufacturers. But the European bases of all the U.S. automakers were unwilling to hand over a test car for an endurance test because their European test fleets are extremely manageable. GeigerCars sells around 900 American cars per year. Surely there must be a large-volume V8 in there for sport auto? No problem. Thank you, Karl Geiger, for the uncomplicated acceptance!
Mileage at pickup? Only 66 kilometers! Not only the fact that we are buying the Challenger endurance test car from one of the largest importers of US vehicles in Germany, but also its low mileage reveals that this is not an endurance test vehicle specially prepared by the manufacturer. With its low mileage at the start of the endurance test, this subject definitely passes for a virgin new vehicle.
Why is this special? Most manufacturers hand over test vehicles that have a mileage of around 2,500 kilometers at the start of the endurance test. Many make sure in advance that the endurance test vehicles are well run in before they are trodden on by hot-blooded editorial gas feet. There is no special preparation hoopla for the Challenger in the paint scheme with the martial name Destroyer Grey. “At 2,000 kilometers, please come by for the first oil change,” GeigerCars boss Geiger only asks in advance.
Divine V8 sound
Hemi V8 with 6.4 liters of displacement: Thanks to cylinder deactivation, the V8 can also be driven quite economically. Of course, the thirst is greater when the top speed is explored.
Before we start throwing pros and cons around, let’s give a brief introduction to the Challenger. Although: Actually, it’s enough if we introduce its epicenter. Besides its looks reminiscent of the first Challenger generation from 1970, the main reason to buy a Challenger SRT 392 is its powerplant. More precisely: the Hemi V8 with 6.4 liters of displacement. Behind the number 392, which the Yank proudly wears on its flanks, is the American displacement specification in cui (cubic inches).
First entry in the logbook? “Fuck e-mobility! Great engine! The V8 is simply fun!” wrote our longtime sport auto graphic artist, now retired. Straightforward statement meets straightforward automobile. Whether young or old cranked behind the wheel, everyone without exception paid homage to the 492-hp naturally aspirated eight-cylinder engine. “Divine V8 sound,” “awesome V8 bass,” “glorious engine” – the declarations of love for the blubbering, rumbling and hammering of the 6.4-liter unit, which seems anachronistic and almost nostalgic in this day and age, run like a thread through the logbook.
Whether in terms of sound, power or torque, nowhere else do you pay so little for so much engine. In the USA the Challenger SRT 392 was sold for the bargain price of 38,995 US dollars – at GeigerCars one would have had to shell out 56,900 euros in the year of the endurance test start. For it one does not have to worry then also any longer about the import modalities and the change for the German registration (modification of the rear lights on yellow turn signals, side lighting remove, installation headlight cleaning system in front). And even 56,900 euros are still a cream offer compared to the European displacement competition.
Biturbo, hybrid, or all-electric – the Challenger fights modern concepts with all its might and also dispelled prejudices in our endurance test. Certainly, there are more fuel-efficient cars on our planet, but the Dodge is not the drunkard many people think it is. Different colleagues drove the U.S. buddy several times with the minimum consumption of 10.1 liters of fuel per 100 kilometers determined in the endurance test. The prerequisite for the low thirst: stroking the gas pedal. Then the eight-cylinder engine switches to four-cylinder mode with a now restrained voice.
Shortly before the end of the endurance test, the ignition key was handed over to a young dynamic editor, nicknamed Hellboy in editorial circles. Baggy hoodie, grin from ear to ear, shining eyes – someone was really hot for the Challenger. And we immediately had the right task for him: drive to maximum consumption!
The “hell boy” delivered reliably. 24.3 liters per 100 – determined over 209 kilometers, most of which were driven with great enthusiasm along the winding roads of the Swabian Alb. “Oh, that’s not so much. There’s a lot more to it,” the driver replied afterwards in his delightful Eifel singsong, which always sounds like an invitation to a beer.
All in all, the Challenger is not the kind of car that constantly challenges you to get up to speed. The muscle car from the modern era is not addictive for fast driving, but addictive for leisurely cruising. Compared to the German competition around the BMW M4 and Mercedes-AMG C 63, its driving precision is reminiscent of the “slightly blurred Polaroid in the rain” sung about by “Bosse”.
No wonder! Current model year and facelift or not – the SRT 392 belongs to the third Challenger generation, which was introduced in 2008. This means that it is still based on the LC platform, which has its origins in the Daimler-Chrysler LX platform, which in turn uses components from the Mercedes W 211 series. W 211? That’s right, the E-Class built from 2002 to 2009.