From 0-100km/h in 2.3 seconds
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Fiat Chrysler’s Dodge brand is laying claim to the fastest production car in the US, deposing electric carmaker Tesla Motors with a freaky-fast 626kW petrol burner.
Dodge used explosions, burnouts and a small drag strip to roll out the car just ahead of the New York International Auto Show press days.
The company even brought in Fast and Furious star Vin Diesel for effect.
The Italian-American carmaker says itsDemon Challenger can go from 0-100km/h in 2.3 seconds. That beats the Tesla Model S P100D sedan, which hits 100 in 2.5 seconds.
The street-legal Demon can also hit 225km/h while running a quarter mile in 9.65 seconds, about two seconds faster than a typical muscle car.
It’s available in the US in the northern autumn.
“Horsepower is creeping up on every single car across the board,” said Tim Kuniskis, head of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles’ street and racing technology unit.
“A lot of it is due to the fact that we have the technology that allows you to have the power now and not have any downside — such as poor handling or reliability problems.”
2018 Dodge Challenger SRT Demon. Photo / Supplied
The horsepower craze has risen so high some experts are proclaiming a new “golden age of muscle cars” that far outpace the first generation from the 1960s.
Back then, muscle cars had little other than power. Drivers had to be skilled because the cars handled and braked poorly, says Randy Dye, owner of the Dodge dealership in Daytona Beach.
“The brakes were just a little bit better than Fred Flintstone (the cartoon character from the caveman era) who halted his car with bare feet,” says Dye.
The new generation has sophisticated suspension and performance tyres for better handling, and the brakes are beefed up, making the cars easier for the average person to use.
“You don’t have to be a Nascar driver or Formula 1 driver or IndyCar driver,” Dye says.
Even the base versions of many cars have a lot of oomph. The base Charger with a 3.6-litre V6 has almost 223kW.
The 2018 Dodge Challenger SRT Demon. Photo / Supplied
Car enthusiasts say the first golden age ended when new pollution controls were required in the early 1970s, and horsepower dropped until recently.
The Demon relies a lot on supercharging technology to get its crazy horsepower. Its air conditioner cools air entering the engine, letting the car inhale more petrol for added power.
It can be equipped with a button on the dashboard to run on high-octane fuel for faster acceleration.
Judging from what’s being unveiled in New York, it’s almost certain the horsepower race will continue as people keep seeking more power.
But it could be limited by concerns about reliability, Kuniskis said. And someday it may get too extreme.
“Can the average person ever take advantage of that 700 horsepower?” he asked. “Maybe not. But it’s there.”