2006 Dodge Charger SRT8 Review

 by Kevin Corrigan

Dodge appears to be aiming its Charger SRT8 squarely at the 40+ males, guys like me, who still like to believe that they have a little wild streak left in them. After all, anyone younger would have to be truly into classic cars to recall the original as anything more than a cool looking Matchbox toy.

Then, of course, there are the insurance costs. Just mention the SRT logo and you can light up the eyes of the State Farm man as quickly as you can light up the tires on the vehicle.

Yes, the new Dodge Charger is predominately aimed at those who can still remember the original. Yet from a styling standpoint, both old and new share but a few similarities. There's the split rectangular grille, the long hood and the nicely curved roofline. Beyond that, the new vehicle appears little like the original version.

I think that Chrysler, rather than playing the retro-look card, have gone for what I might call "the muscle car feeling". Although this can be felt throughout the entire Charger range, nothing says "muscle car" like their SRT 8 version.

The vehicle might not be exactly a mirror image of the Charger of yesteryear, but it certainly catches the eye. It sits nice and squarely on the road, and from the front, its forward rake and the masculine looking grille make the SRT8 look quite intimidating, to say the least. No, it might not be a perfect re-creation, but it definitely has all the looks of a thoroughbred muscle car.

The large 20 inch rims tend to dominate the side profile of the vehicle, the design of which allows an almost unobstructed view of the massive brake rotors and the bright red Brembo brake calipers. This immediately lets one know that this vehicle is "something a little out of the ordinary".

Stepping inside, I found the interior somewhat plain at first. That is until I remembered the muscle cars of the past, and recalled that they were also rather bland inside. When you think about it, the original muscle cars were designed to be more about "go than show" and were basically designed to be the affordable sports car of the ordinary man on the street.

Now just because the interior is a little on the plain side doesn't mean that it's lacking in features. My test vehicle was loaded with goodies such as a GPS navigation system, heated front seats and a power sunroof. Then, there's the stereo system, and what a system that is, an AM/FM Cass/CD 6-disc MP3 radio, with 11 high performance speakers, a 276 watt Kicker amplifier, and a 200 watt subwoofer.

The dashboard has been well designed, and the instrument binnacle follows along the vehicle's theme, as it has a certain classic look to it. I did, however, find some of the interior plastics a little on the hard side, particularly the lower section of the door panels.

The seats are made of strong leather and have been designed to be quite practical, yet comfortable. The front seats have large side bolsters which hold you firmly in place at all times. There is, however, a slight downside to this as, although the leather is quite tough, it tends to wear on the outside edge. In fact, my tester only had a few thousand kilometers on the clock but was already starting to show signs of wear. The rear seats boast of comfort along with plenty of room. This is something which is not often found in vehicles offering this kind of performance.

Of course, it's always fun to sit in cars like this and go "vroom, vroom". I know, I spent most of the 60's doing just that, but I'm a bit older now. I've got a driving license and they gave me the keys, so let me give you an idea of what it's like to drive.

Think of it this way. Have you ever ridden on a roller coaster, backwards, with your eyes shut, whilst hanging upside down in the seat? If you have, then you might have an inkling of the thrill that this car can deliver. Its 6.1 L Hemi produces 425 screaming horses; it then unleashes them to the rear wheels. If that's not enough for you, they've added a clever little button which turns off the traction control. Wasn't that nice of them!

Then there's the sound of the exhaust, which again harkens back to the old muscle car era. It starts off with a deep throaty rubble, then gets louder and louder as you press the accelerator pedal, until it becomes a full blown roar.

The traction that the Charger SRT8 has is amazing, and the ride qualities are far better than I had expected. Obviously, on country roads, the car tends to follow the camber of the road because of the wide tires and likewise, you do feel the odd pothole through the steering wheel. Yet, the SRT8 handles quite well on most road surfaces and is a credit to the designers in that it suffers very little from squeaks and rattles.

Another great thing about the SRT8 is that it can stop as quickly as it can start. I knew that the braking was going to be good as soon as I saw the name on the brake calipers. After all, Brembo supplies many of the world's top SuperCar manufacturers.

After spending a week in the Charger SRT8, I was suitably impressed with the vehicle. In fact, I truly didn't want to give it back. The car does exactly what I believe Dodge designed it to do. It creates the true feeling of a muscle car from days gone by, yet at the same time, it inspires confidence through the use of modern technology. The Charger SRT8 is basically a blast from the past, whilst also being a true blast into the future.

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Kevin_Corrigan March 25, 2009

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