After much secrecy and intrigue the 2018 Dodge SRT Demon is finally unwrapped for all to see. We first picked up the scent in 2014, when rumors of an all-out drag car called “ADR” surfaced. Then in January 2017, we got confirmation that something was afoot. The Dodge PR machine began leaking weekly teasers of a strange and wonderful new performance car called Demon. Animated short videos on Dodge’s IfYouKnowYouKnow.com website gave clues into the car’s purpose and capability, with increasing specificity as the car’s official debut loomed. We quickly learned that the Dodge Demon would be unlike any car ever produced. It would be more powerful, faster, and possessed of a unique skillset that made it the most capable quarter-mile production car ever.
Incredibly, in stock trim the SRT8 Demon can pull both wheels off the ground at launch. That fact alone is so cool, Dodge invited the Guinness Book Of World Records to document the feat as the first factory car ever to do a wheelie. (A length of 2.92 feet in fact.) In the process, the Demon generates 1.8g of acceleration, another record for a production car. At the same test session, Dodge engineers went for yet another record: fastest production car in a quarter mile. With the Demon’s optional race fuel programming (for 100-plus octane unleaded fuel) and optional lightweight front racing wheels, it runs the quarter mile in 9.650 seconds at over 140 mph. Even with all four of its standard Nitto NT05R 315/40R18 drag radials bolted up, the Demon is good for 9.90s at over 130 mph. This kind of performance from a street-legal vehicle was unthinkable a year ago, let alone back in the ’60s. The Demon is so quick, at the same test session the NHRA banned it from competition for infractions of Section 4 in the rule book.
Fortunately, the Demon is not banned for use on the street. All of the Demon’s 808 HP and 717 lb-ft of torque is legal in all 50 states. There will be plenty of them to go around too (production begins late this summer) as Dodge will be building 3,000 of them for the United States and 300 for Canada. Dodge states the Demon’s 0-60mph performance as 2.3 seconds, which at first looks like a misprint, until you realize the kind of acceleration you need to pull off high nines in street dress. Sounds about right—just make sure you eat your Wheaties in the morning so you don’t pass out from the g force!
Under The Hood
There’s a ton of hardcore engineering that went into the Demon to get those numbers, much of it under the hood. A new Air-Grabber induction system includes the largest functional hood scoop (45.2 square inches) of any production car ever. The Air-Grabber hood is sealed to the air box, which is also fed from the driver-side Air-Catcher headlamp and an inlet near the wheel liner. Combined, those sources give the Demon’s 6.2L V8 Hemi an air-flow rate of 1,150 cubic feet per minute, or 18 percent greater than the Hellcat.
A larger 2.7-liter supercharger moves more air, thanks to an increase in boost pressure to 14.5 psi (up from the Hellcat’s 11.6 psi). Max engine speed is also raised from 6,200 (in the Hellcat) to 6,500 rpm. Improving on the Hellcat is a first-ever production car Power Chiller liquid-to-air intercooler chiller system and After-Run Chiller that keeps cooling the supercharger after the engine is shut off. Buyers who opt for the Demon Crate (more on this later) get a specially tuned PCM allowing the Demon to run on 100-plus high-octane unleaded fuel or 91 octane on demand. Power surges to 840 HP and 770 lb-ft on the race tune and Demon now comes with two dual-stage fuel pumps to support that. In addition, the Demon’s Hemi includes a high-speed valvetrain, strengthened connecting rods and pistons, and an improved lubrication system. The upgrades enable the engine to sustain higher output and pressures while meeting stringent durability requirements. We’re told that the Demon Hemi only retains about 50 percent of the Hellcat’s internals, but if past experience is any indication, most of these changes would be minor tweaks (stuff like larger injectors), not huge departures from existing engineering or architecture.
3, 2, 1… Launch!
Getting the Demon to launch hard, launch reliably, and launch consistently time after time, a whole new bag of tricks was employed. For the first time ever (you better get used to that phrase) Dodge turned to age-old racer technology and built a trans brake right into the beefcake TorqueFlight 8HP90 eight-speed automatic—the only trans available in the Demon. Internal changes to the trans include an upgraded torque converter that delivers an 18 percent increase in torque multiplication. Also, the stall speed is increased 11 percent and the lockup speed is increased. The trans brake—recast in corporate-speak as TransBrake—locks the transmission output shaft to hold the car in place before a standing start. It does this by engaging clutches A, B, and C while delivering power to clutches D and E when the trans is in First gear. Locking these clutch sets together lets the driver increase engine speed up to 2,350 rpm without overpowering the brakes, resulting in quicker power delivery and up to 15 percent more torque at launch. Steering wheel paddle shifters trigger the trans brake, improving reaction time by 30 percent compared to a foot-brake launch. The system enables delivery of initial torque to the flywheel as soon as 20 milliseconds after launch.
In concert with the trans brake, the Demon’s Drag Mode Launch Assist uses wheel speed sensors to watch for driveline-damaging wheel hop at launch and in milliseconds modifies the engine torque to regain full grip and then continue accelerating the car down the track. If you look at accompanying video footage of the Demon launching, you can visibly see where the PCM reins in wheelspin—a nifty trick that will produce faster e.t.s and may even save the car from heading toward the wall.
Equally nifty is something Dodge calls Torque Reserve. This acts like an electronic boost controller in a turbo car and becomes active once engine speed passes 950 rpm. The old trick in a footbraked turbo Grand National was to pump up the brake on the line and build as much boost as you could before launching. In the Demon, Torque Reserve closes the bypass valve, prefilling the supercharger with boost, while the PCM manages fuel flow to cylinders and manages spark advance or retard to balance engine rpm and torque.
With the trans brake and Torque Reserve active, the SRT Demon has more than 8 psi of boost at launch and up to 120 percent more engine torque than without Torque Reserve. The trans brake also preloads the driveline with torque, leading to full engine torque delivery at the rear wheels 150 milliseconds after the shift paddle is released. That results in faster acceleration at launch, faster 60-foot times, and an improvement of more than a tenth of a second in quarter-mile times, which computes to an entire car length at the finish line.
Beefing Up The Rear
Traveling down the powertrain to the rear of the Demon, we see hardware that shares a lot in common with Hellcat, but with important incremental improvements. An upgraded prop shaft offers a 15 percent increase in torque capacity through the use of high-strength steel. The shaft tube thickness increases by 20 percent and the stub shafts are heat treated for enhanced durability. Demon’s rear differential housing has 30 percent more torque capacity than Hellcat and is made from heat-treated A383 aluminum alloy. A new material for the gear set has higher fatigue strength, with a deeper case hardening depth and a two-step shot-peening manufacturing process to increase compressive residual stress.
The Demon’s rear half shafts—some of the most problematic pieces of hardware for Hellcat drag racers—are larger in diameter. Demon uses a high-strength, low-alloy steel half shaft with 41 splines (up from the Hellcat’s 38), which deliver a 20-percent increase in torque capacity. Eight-ball joints handle more torque, while reducing operating temperatures by more than 86 degrees Fahrenheit.
First-Ever Factory Drag Radials
All this powertrain upgrading is done for one mission: to put power to the ground. Making that happen is the job of Nitto’s 315/40R18 NT-05R Drag Radials—the first drag radials of any description to be put on a factory street-legal machine. The Nittos are mounted on lightweight 11×18-inch “Hole Shot” wheels which look absolutely bitchin. The NT-05R is a tire we are quite familiar with, and although this particular size is unique to the Demon, we expect its performance to be top-shelf. Dodge aggressively moved to a taller sidewall and a wider track on the Demon (the Hellcat was 275/40R20). This was done to gain more adhesion and better sidewall compliance, and combined with Nitto’s take-no-prisoners compound, provide more than twice the grip of the Hellcat. Surrounding these meats are wide-body fender flairs which help protect the paint and passersby from thrown rock chips. (Wider tires and fender flairs add 3.5 inches to the Challenger’s overall width.) These fender flairs are needed 110 percent, and even though it gives the Demon a road-race Trans Am look, the unintended consequence is that the racer now has an extra pair of slicks—provided the optional “pie-cutters” are loaded in the trunk.
Tires, however, are only part of the transfer of power. To give those Nittos a fighting chance to pull down those nine-second timeslips, you need good suspension. Scratch that. You need great suspension. Here, Dodge combined the best of mechanical and electronic tuning to deliver maximum launch grip while still maintaining directional control. Bilstein Adaptive Damping shocks have been tuned for drag racing, shifting as much weight as possible on the rear tires at launch for maximum traction. The weight transfer improves rear tire grip by 11 percent. Mechanically, weight shift in the Demon is aided by softening up some key suspension components. Those changes, compared with the Hellcat, include softer springs (35 percent lower rate front/28 percent lower rate rear), and softer, lighter, hollow swaybars (75 percent lower rate front/44 percent lower rate rear). When “Drag Mode” is activated, the front shocks are set for firm compression and soft rebound damping—like an old-school 90/10 shock—while the rear shocks are set for firm compression and firm rebound damping. That configuration is maintained as long as the car runs at wide open throttle. When the driver backs off the gas, the system switches to firm compression and firm rebound (front and rear) for improved handling. On the subject of Drag Mode, the traction control system is disabled to enable the rear wheels to spin for a burnout, but the electronic stability control system remains engaged to help the driver with straight-line performance.
Of special note is the Demon’s unique rear suspension knuckle, which reduces negative camber by 0.5 degrees. This “stands up” the tire and increases the size of the tire contact patch at full squat. We’ll wait while the Hellcat racers out their make a note to order this part from their local dealership.
Power Chiller & After-Run Chiller
Circling back to the Demon’s innovative Power Chiller, here’s a trick ripped right out of every 5-liter Mustang and Buick Grand National racer’s book of tricks. Decades ago, we proved that icing down the intake manifold on a 5-liter Ford or a Buick Turbo was worth a tenth at a minimum, sometimes two tenths. The track workers hated us because we dripped water everywhere and left ice bags in the pits. That eventually evolved into sophisticated air-to-water intercoolers attached to big blowers or turbos. What Dodge did with the Demon is hijack the car’s air conditioning system for use as a pre-cooler—just like we did 20 years ago with ice bags. The Power Chiller diverts the air-conditioning refrigerant from the SRT Demon’s interior to a chiller unit mounted by the low-temperature circuit coolant pump. Charge air coolant, after being cooled by ambient air passing through a low-temperature radiator at the front of the vehicle, flows through the chiller unit, where it is further cooled. The chilled coolant then flows to the heat exchangers in the supercharger.
Every run down the drag strip generates heat, which normally builds up as heat soak. With the Demon’s After-Run Chiller, which kicks in once the engine is shut down after a run, a racer can get ready in a hurry for the next run without waiting. The After-Run Chiller keeps the engine cooling fan and low-temperature circuit coolant pump running to lower the supercharger/charge air cooler temperature, helping the Demon minimize heat soak. The driver can track the supercharger coolant temperature on the 8.4-inch Uconnect touchscreen in the instrument panel, and know in real time when the supercharger is at the optimum temperature for another run. The impact of the SRT Power Chiller and After-Run Chiller, combined, lowers intake air temperature by up to 45 degrees Fahrenheit. As we’ve known for years, that kind of temperature swing is huge, and on cars with far less output (think early-’90s era LT1 F-body) could account for as much as two tenths in the quarter mile. This process, in fact, was used successfully by your author to set an IHRA Pure Stock record back in 1994.
Every good racer knows that weight reduction is just as good as more power—even better in fact. Dodge has sharpened their pencils in equipping the SRT Demon, trimming more than 200 lbs. from the Challenger platform. True to its mission, the Demon deletes both the front passenger seat and rear seat in standard trim, along with their corresponding seat belts. We can’t verify it, but we’d guess that the record e.t. of 9.650 was set with all of the weight-loss program in place. We mention this because quite a bit of that weight reduction is reliant on the end-user’s ability to exercise restraint while ordering. (Buyers have the option to add back the front passenger seat, rear seats, and trunk carpeting kit for $1 each.) Checking the box for such luxuries as a rear seat, stereo, and a passenger seat will negate 70 percent of that weight savings (front seat and belt: 58 lbs. Rear seat and belts: 55 lbs. Stereo system: 24 lbs.) which will likely put your off-the-showroom-floor e.t. back into the 10-second range.
When Dodge drag tested the Demon on its 9.650 run, it was also wearing a lightweight pair of front skinnies, which are only available with SRT’s optional Demon Crate. The Demon Crate is available to buyers of the Dodge Challenger SRT Demon, and contains components that fully unleash the car’s potential at the drag strip and is fully customized with the buyer’s name, VIN and serial number. Contents of the crate include a performance PCM with high-octane engine calibration, replacement center-stack switch module containing a high-octane button, a conical performance air filter, passenger mirror block-off plate, narrow, front-runner drag wheels, hydraulic floor jack with carrying bag, cordless impact wrench with charger, a torque wrench with extension and socket, tire pressure gauge, fender cover, tool bag, and a foam case that fits into the SRT Demon trunk and securely holds the front runner wheels and track tools. Not part of the Demon Crate is an optional four-point harness by Speedlogix four-point harness bar. Dodge claims it for use at the track, but our intel says it still isn’t legal per section 4 of the NHRA rulebook. (Perhaps it’s a road race or autocross piece?) Dodge says the mounting points for the bar are accessible (we love the cool knock-out access plate with the Demon wheelie depiction!), making it easy for customers to install without cutting or drilling anything. No word yet on pricing for the Demon Crate, the Speedlogix harness bar, or even the Demon itself. We’ll keep you posted on our first-drive impressions as soon as we can get our hands on one!
Amazing in this day that a 9-second car can come from the factory—let alone with a warranty. Challenger SRT Demon is covered by FCA’s three-year/36,000-mile limited vehicle warranty and five-year/60,000-mile limited powertrain coverage.
The 6.2L Demon Hemi reuses fewer than 50 percent of the Hellcat’s components, making 808 HP and 717 lb-ft of toque via a 2.7-liter supercharger and 14.5 psi of intercooled boost. To make that kind of power, the Demon Hemi needs 1,150 cubic feet of air per minute—handily provided by the Demon’s Air-Grabber hood, a driver-side Air-Catcher headlamp, and a tertiary inlet near the wheel liner.
All customers who buy the new 2018 Dodge Challenger SRT Demon receive one full-day session at Bob Bondurant School of High-performance Driving, but something tells us guys will want to go to the drag strip instead.
The Demon’s cross-glide joint has been improved to an 8-ball design over the older 6-ball unit, increasing torque capacity from 8,000 NM to 9.300 NM and reducing temperature between 30 – 40 degrees.
Want to buy a Demon and take it to the track, but fear your insurance company won’t understand? Dodge has named Hagerty as its official insurance provider of the Dodge Challenger SRT Demon.
The 2018 Dodge SRT Demon will be available in 14 exterior colors: B5 Blue, Billet Silver, Destroyer Grey, F8 Green, Go Mango, Granite Crystal, Indigo Blue, Maximum Steel, Octane Red, Pitch Black, Plum Crazy, TorRed, White Knuckle, and Yellow Jacket. All exterior colors are available with Satin Black hood, roof, and decklid.
The keys to unleashing the SRT Demon’s full performance fury are in the optional Demon Crate: Direct Connection Performance parts include a new powertrain control module calibrated for the high-octane unleaded fuel and a new switch bank for the center stack that includes a high-octane button. Also included: lightweight front runners, jack, electric impact wrench, torque wrench, electric air pump, and tool box—all made by Snap-On.
The 2018 Dodge Challenger SRT Demon is the first-ever, factory-production car designed to run on high-octane unleaded fuel for added performance while in Drag Mode, as shown on the 8.4-inch Uconnect touchscreen.
Similar to the Challenger SRT Hellcat (shown), the SRT Demon comes with two key fobs. The black fob limits engine output to 500 horsepower. The red key fob unlocks the engine’s full output of 808 horsepower and 717 pounds-feet torque. With either key fob, the driver can activate Eco and Valet Modes. Eco Mode limits engine output to 500 horsepower and revises the transmission shift schedule to include second-gear starts. Valet Mode limits the engine to 4,000 rpm and reduces torque output.
The Nitto 315/40R18 NT-05R tires were specifically designed and developed exclusively for the SRT Demon, with a new compound and specific tire sidewall construction. The drag radials give the SRT Demon a 15-percent larger tire contact patch and more than twice the grip of the Challenger SRT Hellcat. The sticky Nittos are mounted on lightweight 11×18-inch “Hole Shot” wheels, with each tire measuring 12.6 inches wide. Putting full-size tires at all four corners gives drag racers an extra set of rear tires when the front tires are replaced with narrow front-runners at the track.
The 2018 Dodge Challenger SRT Demon is the widest Challenger ever and first-ever, factory-production muscle car with wide-body fender flares. The wide body flares are designed to amplify the Challenger SRT Demon’s menacing stance, while making room for wider tires.
Customers have the option of adding seats into the car, as well as adding leather coverings, when ordered. Seating configurations include: driver seat only (premium cloth covered), driver and front passenger seat (premium cloth covered), driver and front passenger seat (Laguna leather and Alcantara suede covered), driver, front passenger and rear seats (Laguna leather and Alcantara suede covered).
Facing the driver is a flat-bottom SRT Performance steering wheel wrapped in Alcantara with paddle shifters. The SRT white-face gauges include a 200mph speedometer and flank the 7-inch TFT cluster display screen. A custom carbon fiber instrument panel badge with “Demon” script is located on the outboard vent and signifies the build sequence number.
A new four-point harness bar, available through Speedlogix, is available for use at the track. (Although it’s been made clear by the NHRA that the bar does not make it NHRA-legal for the 9s.) Mounting points for the bar are accessible, making it easy for customers to install without cutting or drilling anything.
Standard cloth seats include Ballistic II inserts with silver embroidered Demon head logo in the seat backs. An optional Laguna Leather Package includes leather covered seats and trim with embossed Demon head logo.