Let's hope for a litter of Hellcat kitties
Spend a few minutes with Chrysler Group’s new monster power plant -- the 707-hp, 6.2-liter supercharged Hemi V-8 -- and you will be left, as I was, with one overriding question:
What else can you put it in?
Not to say that it’s out of place in the 2015 SRT Challenger. It’s not. It absolutely belongs there and fits like a glove. But very few automakers that want to stay in business build engines for one single model, and I don’t think Chrysler will do so, either.
As I see it, there are four natural future uses for the Hellcat: one for each of the automaker’s four core brands.
I don’t know whether Chrysler will agree, but Hellcat-powered versions of the Jeep Grand Cherokee, Chrysler 300, Dodge Charger and Ram pickup make perfect sense to me.
I don’t think it will make its way into the Viper, mostly because -- as it sits today -- it won’t fit. But Viper is scheduled for a refresh in 2015, and while Hellcat may not make it into the snake, maybe its supercharger will.
At its core, the Hellcat engine is a testament to Chrysler re-embracing its heritage as an engineering company.
Based on the 6.4-liter Hemi block, the 707-hp Hellcat engine operates at peak pressures of 110 bar, or about 1,600 pounds per square inch, according to its chief engineer. With each firing, the pistons withstand 21,600 pounds of force.
The Hellcat engine.
Photo credit: LARRY P. VELLEQUETTE
At full power, the engine’s screaming supercharger sucks in enough air to completely empty a 130-square-foot office in one minute.
In addition to an engineering achievement, the Hellcat is also one more thing: a defiant raised fist to the notion that fuel economy standards will one day strip away the power and the passion of the automobile and turn them all into gutless blobs.
Chrysler’s future plans for Hellcat -- beyond what appears to be a natural extension from the Challenger to an SRT Charger -- weren’t completely laid out in the company’s May 6 presentation of its five-year business plan. And Dodge brand head Tim Kuniskis, who also heads SRT, now that it’s been folded back into Dodge, was notably mum about where the engine might go next.
Its biggest potential might be in an American super sedan. A refreshed Chrysler 300 powered by the Hellcat would deliver an American luxury sedan that would be a truly worthy rival to the Cadillac CTS-V, Mercedes AMG, Audi R and BMW M. Who wouldn’t like a Hellcat-powered Chrysler 300?
And a Hellcat-powered Ram Power Wagon might leave the Ford Raptor clawing for air.
As for a Hellcat-powered Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT? With its 470-hp 6.4-liter Hemi, it’s already an insanely powered SUV. So why not add another 237 hp just for fun?
The government’s corporate average fuel economy rules and simple economics will probably keep the Hellcat from roaming too far and wide. But I still think there’s plenty of potential for a whole litter of Hellcat kitties to play across Chrysler’s lineup.
You can reach Larry P. Vellequette at email@example.com.