Long-time readers of this site (thanks, both of you) will recall the Ace of Base series of posts, natterings in which we ruminated on the state of a particular model and its entry-level trim. Thanks to a myriad of reasons, we’re morphing this concept into a new product for your eyeballs called The Right Spec. This time around, we’ll be teasing out what we think is the best spec of a given vehicle – we hope it generates some comments. Knowing you, the BnB, it surely will.
Also, I’d be remiss not to thank Tim for inviting me to scribe these digital words; my byline has popped up on TTAC for the better part of a decade, attached to no fewer than 875 posts in that amount of time, including 118 of those infernal commerce items that keep the lights on around here. Thanks for enduring those necessities, by the way.
All of which brings us neatly to our first stab at The Right Spec. Horsepower is an intoxicating drug, one generally taken in large and sometimes frightening doses by gearheads around the planet. When the almighty Hellcat variants started popping out of Detroit, there was plenty of ink spilled about them and the novelty of buying a 700+ horsepower machine with a factory warranty right off the showroom floor. These are glorious times.
But $59,570 (the base sticker price of a 2021 Challenger SRT Hellcat) is a lot of money, to say nothing of the $80,170 being charged for the psychotic Challenger Super Stock. Surely there’s a better spec – the right spec – somewhere in the mix?
We’ll direct your attention to the $40,645 R/T Scat Pack. While the supercharged 6.2L Hellcat engine gets all the press, the 392 Hemi V8 makes all the right sounds and cranks out a not-inconsiderable 485 horsepower. It’s paired as standard with a 6-speed manual transmission, which is an option one should select with great haste. Lest you think I’m blindly advocating to save the manuals, this is the same transmission equipped in my own V8 Challenger lurking in the garage.
Dodge is one of the few manufacturers on this planet with the stones to offer interesting paint choices, and it chooses to name them accordingly. As a bonus, none of them are extra-charge items on the R/T Scat. Your author will select the TorRed shown here because he is an irritating extrovert, though even muted tones have awesome names like Smoke Show and White Knuckle.
The $2,595 Shaker package is a tasty option, permitting the 392 to push a snorkel through Challenger’s hood like a rising submarine. There’s always an argument amongst Mopar types as to whether this feature actually improves performance but there’s no denying its cool factor – especially when paired with a manual transmission. Watching the scoop twitch with throttle inputs and gear changes is a visual treat that never gets old.
Skip items like navigation, extra stereo speakers, and upgraded seats on a Challenger. In terms of the latter, Dodge installs Barcaloungers no matter what upholstery you select, meaning it’s just as well to stick with the base houndstooth. The so-called Technology Group is a similar waste of money on a manual-equipped car, though the $1,295 Driver Convenience Group is worth it for the blind spot monitoring since over-the-shoulder visibility is equal to that of a tank.
Even without any of those options, the R/T Scat Pack represents a car priced at about 2/3rds of a Hellcat but providing way more than 2/3rds of the fun. We’re calling it The Right Spec. What’s your take?
Please note the prices listed here are in American dollars and currently accurate for base prices exclusive of any fees, taxes, or rebates. Your dealer may (and should) sell for less. Keep your foot down, bone up on available rebates, and bargain hard.