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Motoring: New car with classic muscle power

Nauman Farooq | Interrobang | Sports | August 27th, 2007

In today's world, all we seem to hear about on a daily basis is how we are destroying the planet. We hear about CO2 levels being on a record high in the last century, but I question, did we have accurate testing equipment a 100 years ago to know exactly what CO2 levels were in 1907? Plus did you know a cow emits more CO2 in a day than a modern Range Rover does in 200 km or driving?

So if you ask me, cows need to get fitted with catalytic converters.

Then after the environmental debate we get the news of daily gas price hikes. This is a real pain and I want the government to step in and put a freeze on gas prices. As for the pirates who run OPEC, I wish the curse of a million wasps to infest their pants.

The gas prices these days are ridiculous and that makes it harder and harder to enjoy cars like this, the Dodge Charger SRT8.

This is the meanest, loudest, fastest version of the Charger, which can come with a puny V6, a punchy Hemi V8, or this, the SRT version with a 6.1-litre V8 that develops 425 hp and 420 lb/ft of torque.

This is a massively impressive motor, from the way it just idles softly on a highway cruise, while delivering very impressive fuel economy figures, to the way it bursts down straights on a full throttle run. Hook it up properly and you'll hit 100 km/h from a stop in just five seconds flat, and onto a (limited) top speed of 250 km/h.

Sadly, I did not have access to a runway to verify that figure, but I can certainly tell you, the acceleration numbers are no hoax.

Despite its size, its no ponderous panda either, this big sedan can really handle. With fully independent suspension front and back and a stiff chassis (as stiff as you can expect in this sector) that can go around corners at great speeds. Thanks to a rear-wheel drive only layout, this car is a lot of fun around the corners too. The handling is very predictable and thus allows you to hang the tail out at corners while still keeping things under control because you see, the traction and stability control doesn't fully turn off.

I must advise you to try your heroics on a closed track, like I did, and not on city streets. This is a fun car, but have your fun responsibly.

So as a driving experience it is great, in fact my only complaint is with the gearbox. The unit itself is fine, and this autobox does allow you to play with the gears using the AutoStick feature. But, when downshifting, it does not blip the throttle like in some recent cars, and I think Dodge should offer this car with a proper manual gearbox, so the enthusiasts can enjoy it to the fullest.

Otherwise there is plenty more about this car you can enjoy, like its looks for a start. You can have this SRT8 performance in the Chrysler 300C and the Dodge Magnum too, but the Charger easily looks the best. My test car, in metallic black looked like Darth Vader's family car, and I loved it.

I also loved its hugging seats, which ensure you don't slide around in the car as you take corners. Plus they are very comfortable, so you'll never feel tired, even after a long trip.

The suspension set up is quite amazing, because while they do the job beautifully around a track, you expect them to jar your teeth out of place on regular roads. Not so, this car rides very softly on the highway, so it is the perfect highway car. Like I mentioned before, on the highway it just sips gas. I averaged 12-litres/100 km on a long highway trip, which is amazing for a car with this much power. But in city use only, your economy number will easily rise to 19-litres/100 km.

So it can be a bit hard on your wallet, but you know what, I just don't care. I am glad Dodge makes a car like this and you should go out and buy one before environmentalists and gas prices put cars like this into extinction.

Its not overly expensive either, with prices starting at $46,105, it is a bargain compared to its performance competitors from Europe. Sure it might not be as refined as a BMW M3 or as savagely precise as an Audi RS4, but the Charger is a lot cheaper and does have charms of its own, like being a true muscle car. Can't wait for the Dodge Challenger coupe next year.
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