Dodge Demon: Daring the competition to be a little ‘bad’

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The 2018 Dodge Challenger SRT Demon is the quickest purpose-built factory car—period. And what might that purpose be? Simple: Be the quickest production car on a drag strip. In short: Be Bad.

Breaking a 9-second quarter-mile time, outlawed by the NHRA, and holding the longest wheel stand verified by The Guinness Book of World Records, are all accomplishments that justify the ‘bad’ attitude.

I was able to verify all of this, and more, testing the Demon on and off track. When Dodge provides the Demons, as well as the street and the strip, not to mention some naughty 315-width Nitto NT05R street-legal drag radials, you comply and let the badness come out.

It’s amazing how docile 840 horsepower (race gas) or 808 hp (w/93 octane) and 770 lb. ft. of torque can be on the street. This supercharged 6.2-liter V8 is backed by a paddle-shifted, eight-speed automatic – no manual offered.

My test car came with the $1 optional leather passenger seat, air, satellite radio, power windows, sunroof and a host of convenience features that you would not expect on such a purpose-built strip rocket.

On the road, the wide-fender Demon is a car you can take the kids to school in (with optional $1 rear leather seat), grocery shopping or a night out. A three-mode chassis selector offers: Comfort, Sport and Drag modes. The car floats in Comfort, Sport ride is firmer, and Drag mode is for track use. The Drag Mode suspension tune maximizes weight transfer to the rear wheels for better traction. Drag Mode Launch Assist is another suspension goodie and uses wheel speed sensors to catch driveline-twisting wheel hop during launch. In milliseconds it can alter engine torque to regain control.

One I was on the track, I grabbed a helmet, slipped behind the wheel, then tried my hand at performing a correct launch. To do this violent task requires executing a number of steps in the proper sequence or your dead on the line (which happened a few times).

First, I used the touchscreen to engage Line Lock, then I stood on the brake pedal while holding a steering wheel button to lock the front wheels; next, blip the throttle to heat up the rear drag slicks for about six to eight-seconds, then release the steering wheel button.

As you’re doing this, a torque reserve system loads the 2.7-L supercharger with boost and retards spark building maximum power to launch. Dodge indicates this system can help propel the car a tenth of a second faster in the quarter.

At the line, I flick both shift paddles to activate the TransBrake. The TransBrake engages two gears at once, using the gearbox as a brake. Following the performance pages and my professional driver’s instruction, I rev the engine with the brake pedal firmly depressed. I release one shift paddle, then off the brake – and the Demon doesn’t move – this is weird.

The began to have a coiling up feel. I released the second shift paddle and applied ¾-throttle for an instant, which lifts the front wheels and slams me back into my seat with the force of 1.8 Gs. I manage to stay on the throttle to wind up with a 10.9 quarter time (according to the Demon’s on-board telemetry).

In today’s PC world, it’s a major achievement that all the technical, performance and financial challenges were overcome to permit 3,000 examples of the 2018 Dodge Challenger SRT Demon to be built. It’s flat out the fastest, street-legal, factory-warrantied, volume production, daily driver ever built.

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