The Beast Is Unleashed: The ’18 Dodge Challenger SRT Demon Finally Revealed

After what could have been considered the longest, most drawn out social media campaign ever to accompany the launch of a car, months of teaser videos and hundreds of swirling rumors, the unveiling of the anticipated and hotly debated 2018 Dodge Challenger SRT Demon at the New York Auto Show was almost as maddening. The reveal consisted of flames, fireworks, burnouts and a full power launch but only after so much talking. But, the message behind the Demon was clear; to build a car unlike anything ever offered by an OEM before, make it ridiculously fast and make it street legal.

“Everyone builds a factory drag car. It’s a non-VIN package car; you buy it from the parts department. The Challenger Drag Pak was available to people in the know, but it was a purpose-built race car with a $100,000 price tag, low production volume, and it needed a trailer to get to the track. What if we did that, but put a VIN plate on it, a factory warranty, and it was purpose-built as a drag car?” says Tim Kuniskis, Head of Passenger Cars – Dodge, SRT, Chrysler and Fiat, FCA North America. He continued to say, “With the Demon, our goal was to build a car that would tattoo the Dodge logo into the subconscious of the general market, beyond even our loyal enthusiasts. To do so, we had to set records that have never been set before, do more than has ever been done before, and go beyond even the legendary Hellcat. The result: an 840-horsepower, 9-second muscle car unlike anything that has ever come before it.”

Under the hood of the Demon sits a bright red, supercharged 6.2L Demon HEMI. The supercharger on top is similar to the one you’d find on the Hellcat but it’s been increased to 2.7L, which bumps up boost pressure to 14.5 psi from 11.6 on the Hellcat. For the Demon, the engine got a complete overhaul with 25 major component upgrades from the Hellcat engine, including the previously mentioned supercharger, strengthened pistons and rods, valve train, lubrication system and fuel injection system. These upgrades also allowed the engineers to bump the rpm limit from 6,200 to 6,500 rpm respectively. To keep the engine fed well, the fuel system was totally overhauled to a new set-up consisting of two dual-stage fuel pumps, larger injectors and larger fuel lines.

A major key with the Demon’s performance success is the air intake. The engineers wanted to make sure the car was fed plenty of air at all times so they gave the Demon three different air intake points. The first is the very obvious Air-Grabber hood which features the largest functional hood scoop on any production car; measuring in at 45.2 square inches. The Air-Grabber hood is sealed to the air box, which is also fed from the driver-side Air-Catcher headlamp and an additional inlet near the wheel liner. When you combine these air sources together, they give the Demon an air-flow rate of 1,150 cubic feet per minute. That’s an 18 percent increase over the Hellcat!

The next new feature on the Demon’s performance check list is the SRT Power Chiller system. This state of the art system is truly the first on any production car. It diverts the air-conditioning refrigerant from the Demon’s interior to a chiller unit mounted by the low-temperature circuit coolant pump. Charge air coolant, after being cooled by ambient air passing through a low-temperature radiator at the front of the vehicle, flows through the chiller unit, where it is further cooled. The chilled coolant then flows to the heat exchangers in the supercharger.

When the engine is shut down between races, the After-Run Chiller keeps the engine cooling fan and low-temperature circuit coolant pump running to lower the supercharger/charge air cooler temperature, helping minimize heat soak effects which have been a pretty common problem in the past; especially in high temperature areas. The driver can track the supercharger coolant temperature on the 8.4-inch Uconnect touchscreen in the instrument panel and know in real time when the supercharger is at the optimum temperature. Thanks to the joint efforts of the air inlet, Power Chiller and After-Run Chiller systems; air intake temperatures have been proven to be up to 45 degrees Fahrenheit cooler!

To release the total beast in the Demon, you need to get yourself one of the previously shown “Demon Crates”. Inside you’ll find a ton of Direct Connection Performance Parts including a new powertrain control module calibrated for 100 high-octane unleaded fuel and a new switch bank for the center stack that includes a high-octane button. The “Demon Crate” will be available to buyers of the Demon and is customized with the buyer’s name, VIN and serial number. We’ve been told it can be ordered by phone and will be delivered straight to your house. The total to purchase the crate is $1.00 and can only be ordered using a coupon that comes in the glovebox. Yes, you read that right; one dollar. The “Demon Crate” also contains:

• Conical performance air filter
• Passenger mirror block-off plate
• Narrow, front-runner drag wheels
• Demon-branded track tools:
• Hydraulic floor jack with carrying bag
• Cordless impact wrench with charger
• Torque wrench with extension and socket
• Tire pressure gauge
• Fender cover
• Tool bag
• Foam case that fits into the SRT Demon trunk and securely holds the front runner wheels and track tools

From the factory, the Demon is configured for 91-octane premium unleaded pump gasoline but the switch to 100-octane gives you the full performance that the car is capable of. Like to the Hellcat, the Demon comes with two key fobs. The black fob limits engine output to 500 horsepower. The red key fob unlocks the engine’s full output of 808 horsepower and 717 ft. lbs. of torque using the 91 octane. With either key fob, the driver can activate Eco and Valet Modes. Yes, this beast of a car even has Eco Mode. This mode revises the transmission shift schedule to include second-gear starts where Valet Mode limits the engine to 4,000 rpm and reduces torque output. The use of 100-octane with the optional Direct Connection powertrain controller boosts engine output to 840 horsepower at 6,300 rpm and 770 ft. lbs of torque at 4,500 rpm.

With the Demon pumping out its full 840 horsepower and running the 18×4.5 skinny front tire and wheel set-up, it ran an NHRA-certified 9.65 seconds @ 140 mph pulling 1.8 g forces. To add to the impressiveness, it also pounded out a 0-30 mph in 1.0 second flat, 0-60 mph in 2.3 seconds and 0-100 mph in 5.1 seconds. That is crazy fast! In this configuration, the Demon broke a Guinness World Record, pulling the front wheels off the ground for 2.92 feet; the first ever done by a production car. Dodge says while running the 91-octane and the OE-equipped Nitto P315/40R18 drag radials on all four corners, the Demon will go 9.90 and still pull the front wheels off the ground. In Eco-Mode, it still ran an 11.59! Unfortunately, as quickly as the NHRA certified the 9.65 pass, they pulled out the rule book and banned the Demon from their tracks. With passes that quick, a lot of certification is needed to legally run the car on the track so any Demon buyers that want to run their car on the track, we recommend you do your homework and read the NHRA rule book to make it happen.

Besides the upgrades to the engine and computer system, the engineers at Dodge and SRT had to overhaul pretty much everything else on the car. Backing the HEMI is the TorqueFlite 8HP90 eight-speed automatic transmission. While it’s a well proven transmission in the Hellcat, it needed significant changes for duty in the Demon. Internal changes included an upgraded torque converter and added TransBrake. Using the steering wheel paddle shifters as a launch trigger, the TransBrake locks the transmission output shaft to hold the car in place before a standing start. This lets the driver increase engine speed up to 2,350 rpm without overpowering the brakes, resulting in quicker power delivery and up to 15 percent more torque at launch.

Driver-oriented step-by-step instructions are displayed on the instrument cluster to guide the driver through the staging process and help them keep their focus on the Christmas Tree. The TransBrake also preloads the driveline with torque, leading to full engine torque delivery at the rear wheels 150 milliseconds after the shift paddle is released. That results in faster acceleration at launch, faster 60-foot times and an improvement of more than a tenth of a second in quarter-mile times, which can be an entire car length. Another feature the team added was Torque Reserve. Working in conjunction with the TransBrake, the Torque Reserve becomes active once engine speed passes 950 rpm.

Once it passes that mark, it closes the bypass valve and prefills the supercharger with more than 8 psi of boost at launch and up to 120 percent more engine torque. Drivers can also select line lock, which engages the front brakes to hold the Demon stationary but leaves the rear wheels free for a burnout to heat up and clean the rear tires. The system will also let the driver perform a controlled rolling burnout and works for up to 400 rear wheel revolutions.

With this much power trying to get to the ground, you usually have traction problems. The SRT engineers worked very hard to eliminate problems such as wheel hop and just simply blowing the tires off. Employing the use of the Demon’s “Launch Assist”, the wheel speed sensors watch for signs that the tires are slipping or sticking. If slip is detected, the Demon’s control module momentarily reduces engine torque to maximize traction almost instantly; without the driver having to do anything.

To make sure nothing would get broken during those hard launches, the engineers beefed up the entire drive line as well. They upgraded the prop shaft, rear differential housing and rear half shafts to name a few of the items. The gears in the rear end have been swapped out to 3:09 versus the automatic Hellcat’s 2:62. The Bilstein Adaptive Damping shocks have been tuned for drag racing; shifting as much weight as possible on the rear tires at launch for maximum traction. Softer springs and softer and lighter hollow sway bars are also used. When Drag Mode is activated on the dash, the front Bilstein shocks are set for firm compression and soft rebound damping, while the rear Bilstein shocks are set for firm compression and firm rebound damping. That configuration is maintained as long as the car runs at wide open throttle. When the driver backs off the gas pedal, the system switches to firm compression and firm rebound front and rear for improved handling.

Any drag racer will tell you weight means a lot. It’s common practice to strip as much extra weight out as possible to gain every fraction of a second that you can. In pursuit for every tenth of a second, engineers looked to cut as much weight as possible in the Demon. The result was cutting out more than 200 pounds work of stuff; leaving the Demon weighing in at 4,250 pounds.

How the weight was lost:
• 58 pounds: Removed front passenger seat and belt
• 55 pounds: Removed rear seat, restraints and floor mats
• 24 pounds: Removed 16 audio speakers, amplifier and associated wiring
• 20 pounds: Removed trunk deck cover trim, carpeting, spare tire cover
• 19 pounds: Used smaller, hollow sway bars
• 18 pounds: Removed mastic, body deadeners, insulators and foam
• 16 pounds: Used lightweight all-aluminum four-piston brake caliper and smaller, 360-mm two-piece rotor
• 16 pounds: Switched to lightweight wheels and open-end lug nuts
• 4 pounds: Switched to manual tilt/telescope steering column
• 2 pounds: Removed park sensors and module

The Demon is equipped with a set of four standard Nitto NT05R street-legal, drag-race tires, a first for any factory-production car. The 315/40R18 tires were specifically designed and developed exclusively for the Demon, with a new compound and specific tire sidewall construction featuring the Demon head logo on the sidewall. The tires are mounted on lightweight 11×18 inch wheels on all four corners as well. The idea behind putting full-size tires at all four corners was to give drag racers an extra set of rear tires when the front tires are replaced with narrow front-runners at the track. To allow clearance for the wide wheels and tires, Dodge did another first with the Demon; they added wide-body fender flares. The wide body flares were designed to boost the Demon’s menacing stance, while making room for the wider tires. The fender flares add 3.5 inches to the Demon’s overall width.

Inside the cabin is where the magic truly happens. As mentioned, both the front passenger seat and rear seat, along with those seat belts are deleted in the car’s standard configuration. Staring the driver straight in the face is a flat-bottom SRT Performance steering wheel wrapped in Alcantara with paddle shifters. The SRT white-face gauges include a 200-mph speedometer and a custom carbon fiber instrument panel badge with “Demon” script is located on the passenger side vent and signifies the build sequence number. Standard cloth seats include Ballistic II inserts with silver embroidered Demon head logo in the seat backs.

An optional Laguna Leather Package includes leather covered seats and trim with embossed Demon head logo. If you want your Demon to have some added creature comforts, you do have the option to add back the front passenger seat, rear seats and trunk carpeting kit for $1.00 each; just like the Crate. Other options include the Harman Kardon 19-speaker, 900-watt audio system, power sunroof, heated and ventilated leather front seats and heated steering wheel. A new four-point harness bar, available through Speedlogix, is available for use at the track but it hasn’t been stated if that will help with the previously mentioned NHRA issues though.

Like every other SRT product, the Demon comes standard with the SRT Performance Pages displayed on the Uconnect 8.4-inch touchscreen. Performance Pages give the driver real-time data, including a graphic display of engine horsepower and torque with gear changes plotted; supercharger coolant temperature; timers for reaction time, 0-60 miles per hour (mph), 0-100 mph, eighth-mile and quarter-mile elapsed time and vehicle speed; instantaneous and peak longitudinal and lateral g-forces; and gauge readouts for engine oil temperature and pressure, coolant temperature, transmission fluid temperature, intake air temperature, air-fuel ratio; intercooler coolant temperature, boost pressure and battery voltage. If there is anything you want to know about what your car is doing at any time; this is the place to look. Performance Pages also includes rpm-adjustable launch control and by-individual-gear-adjustable shift light displayed in the instrument cluster. A new data recorder feature lets you build an archive of data to help optimize the car for the track.

Each 2018 Dodge Challenger SRT Demon buyer receives a unique, customized, leather-bound owner’s Track Tech Manual. In addition to standard vehicle information, it covers all the vehicles’ performance enhancements, includes detailed information about the Challenger SRT Demon’s drag-strip optimized performance technologies and pages for logging track runs. The custom information package also includes a copy of the vehicle build sheet.

The 2018 Dodge Challenger SRT Demon will be available 14 exterior colors: B5 Blue, Billet Silver, Destroyer Grey, F8 Green, Go Mango, Granite Crystal, Indigo Blue, Maximum Steel, Octane Red, Pitch Black, Plum Crazy, TorRed, White Knuckle and Yellow Jacket. Every color is available with a painted Satin Black hood, roof or trunk lid. The Demon comes with the standard FCA warranty of three-year/36,000-mile bumper to bumper coverage and five-year/60,000-mile limited powertrain coverage. This warranty fully covers track use; even while running the 100-octane. We would like to note though that it does not cover aftermarket engine tuning or other add-ons like nitrous. What other production car do you know that runs in the 9 second bracket with a full factory backed warranty?

Production of the 2018 Challenger SRT Demon begins later this summer, with production being rather limited. We’ve been told it will be built for the 2018 model year only, and only 3,000 vehicles for the United States and 300 vehicles for Canada will be available. Prior to the order banks opening, each dealer will be told how many they will be getting to avoid the issues had with the Hellcat allocation program when they first came out. Deliveries to Dodge dealers will begin this fall.

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The Air/Fuel Ratio gauge is one of many performance information screens on the 2018 Dodge Challenger SRT DemonâÂÂs 7-inch instrument cluster screen, which is centered between the exclusive SRT white face gauges.

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Cody Krueger

Car Feature Editor – Since the age of 4, Cody has been obsessed with everything Mopar. On Christmas of 1998, Cody's parents gave him a rusty '69 Charger shell that his father saved from a field. Cody's garage still features that '69 Charger as well as the additions of a '71 Charger R/T, '71 Super Bee, '73 Duster, '08 Challenger SRT8 and a '13 Ram 3500. Cody can truly and proudly say that he is a true Mopar nut in love with all types of Mopars!

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