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Red vs black keys: Real-world Hellcat performance

by Patrick Rall on

If you are reading this piece here on, you are probably familiar with the two-key system of the Hellcat Challenger and Charger. The black key limits the output of the supercharged Hemi to “just” 500 horsepower, while the red key unlocks the full 707 horsepower.

Challenger SRT Hellcat power with red and black key

On paper, that difference is easy to comprehend – it is a 207 horsepower drop when switching to the black key, but what does that mean in terms of real world performance?

Fortunately, the owner of a Plum Crazy 2016 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat named Paul put together a video showing his supercharged Mopar muscle car making a series of timed 50-100 runs – first with the red key, and then with the black key.

The video begins with a humorous introduction where Paul explains what he plans to do with his Hellcat Challenger, including a quick look at the supercharged Dodge muscle car firing up when cold – and sounding awesome. After that, he zips off to Mexico where making 50-100 runs is accepted, and that is when the fun begins.

Hellcat acceleration - red vs black key

First, Paul did three runs running wide open, starting in second gear, with times averaging 4.35 seconds. He also tried starting in third, showing that it is considerably quicker to start in second and make the quick shift when you start the run.

Next, Paul made the same three 50-100 tests with the black key and “only” 500 horsepower; the average time was now 5.98 seconds.

This Plum Crazy Hellcat Challenger was just over a second and a half quicker with the red key, when accelerating from 50-100. That doesn’t sound like much, so let’s put it this way: the Hellcat Challenger is about 36% slower with the black key, than in red key mode.   Check out the video for a closer look at this scientific comparison of the Hellcat Challenger with the red key and black key.

Patrick Rall was raised a Mopar boy, spending years racing a Dodge Mirada while working his way through college. After spending a few years post-college in the tax accounting field, Patrick made the jump to the world of journalism and his work has been published in magazines and websites around the world.

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