by Jim Choate — second section added 8/25/08
When I first took the 2008 Dodge Challenger SRT8 out, I had an opportunity for Mr. Foot to meet Mr. Floor. While I expected a great cacophony of noise and spinning tires, I was surprised at how composed the Challenger was on acceleration – I was certainly moving quickly, but without any overt display of “hoonage.”
On the test track, I found myself cruising at 60 mph and 2000 rpm on the tach. The word that popped into my mind here was “effortless” – when you move your foot, the car instantly responded. I scrolled through the “Performance Pages” looking at the 0-60 meter, the G-force meter, and the other information pages.
Some have criticized the Challenger for having an interior similar to the Charger. The concept dash was a nice concept, but the design I felt was perhaps a little too retro. While the interior is not unique, it is very functional, easy to live with, and offers little to distract the driver from his mission of driving the car.
Motoring between the test track and the handling track, I was very pleased with how the SRT-8 moved at “normal” speeds. I've driven some powerful cars where they were fun as long as you were at speed, once you dropped below 40 or so, they ran poorly and weren't fun. Not so in this car. Once on the handling track, I was able to take turns at speeds that I would not have dared do in any of the other vehicles I drove. The electronic nannies did their jobs well, keeping me from getting too stupid or in trouble as I whipped around the track.
As I pulled in to the staging area, my journalist friend was waiting. He explained that he had just driven the new Camaro the day before, and was eager to see how the Challenger stacked up. When I encountered him later between test track and handling track, I could see the smile on his face from a good distance away. He pulled up, giddy as a schoolgirl, and I asked him how he thought it compared to the Camaro.
“This is much better,” he said. “The Camaro is a very nice car, but I like this one a lot better.” I told him that he'll like it even more once he got on the handling track, and then stepped back as he pulled away, still smiling.
by Vincent Nowaczyk
The Challenger's design and price will pull more new customers into the showrooms, and hopefully the sales professionals in all the Dodge dealerships will do everything they can to shed the "CAR SALESMAN" image. This will be the turning point for CDJ dealers, as big as when the minivan was introduced. I am confident that if the quality maintains we will be successful.
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