2015 Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat vs 2015 Tesla Model S P85D
American Badass - Pitting the World's Quickest Sedan Against the World's Fastest
Life here at Motor Trend isn't always gazing out the window into Laguna Seca's Turn 1 at 130 mph from inside a 500-plus-horsepower sports car. But even if our lives are (mostly) like that, we still get a truckload of mail each month telling us exactly where and how deep we stepped in it. Here's an example, courtesy of Florida's Bob Marks, "RE: The Big Test minivans, by Christian Seabaugh. YOU BLEW IT -- again!! … WRONG decision!!!"
We're going to let you in on a little secret, Bob (and the many readers who often feel the same way). Sometimes we don't even agree with each other.
Case in point: That very same Christian Seabaugh thinks that the 707-horsepower Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat is the most badass American sedan ever built. It's a 204-mph sleeper with an air-raid siren bolted to its supercharged, 6.2-liter V-8. What could be better?
Jonny Lieberman has an idea. He's of the belief that the technological tour de force that is the 2015 Tesla Model S P85D is the best and baddest American sports sedan. With an electric motor mounted at each axle, a way low center of gravity, and 687 lb-ft of torque available at 0 rpm, Jonny thinks the D is Sam Jackson's wallet.
"The Tesla is stealth. No one expects it to hit 60 quicker than the Hellcat."
After a manure storm of emails back and forth, neither mind was changed. The idea was even floated that we could declare this competition a tie, something we just don't do. So an idea was hatched: a completely untraditional comparison test between the four-door Hellcat and Tesla's über sedan. In addition to the normal miles and miles of Malibu back roads, California's coastal highways, and way too much time on the dragstrip, Christian and Jonny would seek to convince the other via a good old-fashioned debate.
What could be more American than that? Think of this as the Lincoln-Douglas debate carried out by two men with the mental age of 12 but with impossibly low stakes. Or would that be Biden-Palin?
Put another way, we're pulling back the curtain and letting you into our decision-making process. This should provide you with more than adequate fodder for your next round of letter writing and subscription cancelling. Enjoy!
Jonny: Let’s start with this. You have to be part caveman -- not that there’s anything wrong with that—to prefer the Hellcat over the Tesla.
Christian: Cavemen discovered fire and cooking meat. That’s more than the granola-chewing hippies that drive a Model S can say.
Jonny: Granola-chewing hippies don't buy $130K hyper sedans. Their parents do.
Christian: The Charger Hellcat has so much going for it. Let's start with raw curb appeal. The Hellcat's dripping with it. And I know for a fact that I'm not the only one who feels that way.
Jonny: I bet policemen like it just fine.
Christian: In fact, they do! Just this morning on my way in, a cop pulled up next to me at a light. He rolled down the window and hollered over: "Hey man, rev it! It's OK! I'm a cop!" So I obliged. Then he said, "When the light turns green, open her up -- I'll hold traffic back!" So naturally I did. After a bit of a smoke show and a run up to 60 mph, he flew on by, flashed his lights in approval and gave me a thumbs up. That would have never happened in the Tesla.
Jonny: Exactly right. The Tesla is stealth. No one expects a car that can go solo in the car pool lane because of its world-class efficiency to hit 60 mph in 3.2 seconds. Let me state that again: 3.2 seconds! Which, by the way, is half a second quicker than the Charger Hellcat's 3.7-second limp to 60 mph.
Christian: Har har. Actually, I'd argue the Charger is pretty stealthy, too. I mean, aside from the big and badass (ahem) hood scoop and the SRT and Hellcat badges, it looks like any ol' Charger that you can rent from Enterprise. Besides, once you're on the move, the Hellcat will smoke the Tesla. It'll accelerate from 45-65 mph in 1.5 seconds. It took longer for you to read that than it took the Hellcat to pass a car on the freeway. The Tesla needs an extra 0.2 second to do the same thing. That's practically an eternity! And let's not even get started on top speed.
Jonny: Oh yeah, top speed, the world's most meaningless metric. Sure, in fantasy land and the comments section the Dodge can hit 204 mph. In the real world that will never happen. There's no track, let alone road, straight, long, and clear enough. Speaking of the real world, this here double-motored electric car runs the quarter mile in 11.7 seconds. It takes your 707-horsepower brute 11.8 seconds to do the same. That's slower, in case you're wondering.
Christian: Actually that's not slower -- that's less quick. The P85D traps at 113.7 mph. The Hellcat's moving at 124.3 mph. You and I both know the Hellcat would smoke the Tesla at any distance longer than a quarter mile.
Jonny: Smoke being the operative word when it comes to the Hellcat. See, the Model S P85D is all about efficiency, traction plus torque, 687 lb-ft of it. The Dodge might make 650 lb-ft of torque, but it can't put that twist down. The under-tired Hellcat just sits and spins, making wasteful noise and smoke. You can't even launch the thing hard in first gear.
Christian: Yeah, well, true -- but I prefer to think of smoke and noise as a nice added feature. It's comforting to know that a smoke screen is just a tap of the throttle away, even in the 505-hp Eco mode. I disagree that the Model S P85D is all about efficiency. If the Tesla really were all about efficiency, it wouldn't have less range than every other 85 kW-hr Tesla that's come before it. It also wouldn't have eaten into said range at such a frightening rate during our drive loops. How much range did you go through over 40 miles again the other day?
Jonny: I don't want to talk about it. But the Tesla Superchargers sure seem to be getting better, huh?
Christian: Dude. You used 84 miles of range in 46 miles. That's terrible. You undid the hour and 15 minutes we spent at the Supercharger in about 30 minutes.
Jonny: No comment.
Christian: My (and I say "my" because I'm never giving it back) Charger -- the car you call inefficient -- only used 34 miles of range according to the trip computer over the same distance at the same speed.
Jonny: But how much money did it cost you to fill the Hellcat back up? The thing about Tesla's Superchargers is they are 100 percent free of charge. In fact, compared to other new cars on the road, the P85D will save you $4,500 in gasoline bills over five years. Over the same time frame the Hellcat will set you back $5,500.
Christian: That'd be a great point if the Tesla wasn't $64,000 more than the Charger Hellcat. It would take you more than 30 years of driving the Tesla -- per the EPA -- until your electric car finally earned back its price premium. As for how much it costs to fill the Hellcat back up -- only about $45 bucks. Fuel is cheap! Let it rain dinosaur juice!
Jonny: That's the epitome of shortsighted thinking. Gasoline could cost $5 a gallon tomorrow. Or $7. Buy a Tesla, and who cares what oil costs? You'll never have to think about gasoline again. Which is the kind of freedom some people will happily pay double for.
Christian: Freedom. Funny. According to the EPA, I can go anywhere within 296 miles, fill up again in a couple minutes, and continue on my way. You're limited to a good deal less than the indicated 253 miles in the P85D -- and you'd better hope you can find an empty Supercharger waiting when you get there because otherwise you're stuck waiting to recharge.
Jonny: That's actually a pretty good point. The electric infrastructure -- specifically Tesla's network of Superchargers and long-rumored battery swap stations -- just is not there yet. But as every single Tesla owner will tell you, it's quite rare that you hop in a car and just start driving. More often you plan out long trips, and figuring out where you're going to charge your Tesla becomes as second-nature as figuring out where you're going to eat lunch. The Model S' range is a non-issue 364 days a year.
Christian: True. However, we Americans are all about doing things just because we can. Case(s) in point: the moon shot, the Super Bowl, deep-fried Snickers, deep-fried butter, and a 707-horsepower V-8 in a family sedan. Some people actually value the freedom of just getting in a car and going without having to think about why. I can't even begin to count how many times I've done that. In college I once drove 3 hours for free pancakes instead of going to Spanish. I likely couldn't have, and more importantly wouldn't have, done that in the Tesla. And although there's no getting around the fact that the Charger's fuel economy is suboptimal (13/22/16 mpg city/highway/combined EPA), you do really get a lot for what you pay.
"Once you're on the move, the Hellcat will smoke the Tesla."
Jonny: But look at what you get when you pull the trigger on this Tesla: air suspension, autopilot, geo-fencing -- that's where the car behaves a certain way depending on where you are. For instance, you need to raise the car up to clear the supermarket driveway. The Tesla knows where you are and does it automatically every time you're near the supermarket. Besides that, the car is continuously updated via the cloud. This car's running version 6.1 of Tesla's software. Rumor has it that a future update will rejigger the flux capacitor (or whatever) and will improve on the P85D's already world-best sedan acceleration times. Did I mention Insane mode? The P85D actually has an acceleration mode called Insane. I'd love to shake the hand of the lawyer that thumbs-upped that one.
Christian: Granted, the Tesla's tech is cool. Autopilot is awesome when it's working properly, and the P85D's computing ability is amazing when you look at where cars were only five years ago. But beneath the tech and the Easter eggs (like James Bond mode, where the screen's Tesla image is replaced by 007's Lotus submarine), what you really have is a very fancy computer. You're just along for the ride, and I get the sense that the Tesla would be happier if it were doing the driving instead of you. I've experienced Insane mode. Yes, it is pull-your-face-back quick, but what about the rest of the driving experience? The Charger Hellcat is Insane mode.
Jonny: True. The Tesla is freaky quick. But man, the Hellcat's almost as quick. And the big blue Dodge makes some of the best noises on planet Earth while creating clouds of gorgeous, juvenile smoke. Can I be honest with you?
Christian: That's the normal way liars preface their stories, but go right on ahead.
Jonny: Look, I was one of the 11 judges that unanimously voted the Model S our 2013 Car of the Year, and that was before the monster power P85D showed up. I never thought we'd see another American sedan that's a bigger badass than the Tesla, but I think this is it.
Christian: Benedict Arnold!
Jonny: Don't get me wrong, I love the P85D, but it comes down to this: The Tesla is like the absolute greatest vegetarian meal on the planet, cooked for you by Thomas Keller himself. Not only does it taste tremendous, but it's also great for you. The Charger Hellcat, on the other hand, is a great big steak. With a martini. And creamed spinach. And french fries. And another martini. And a cigar. And cheesecake. Dropping the pretense of this back and forth, the Dodge is the one I want to eat.
Christian: That settles it then -- the Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat is the ultimate American Badass.
Jonny: Call it a 51 to 49 victory, but yes. Mark this one down as a win for Dodge.
Project: Badass The Badasses That Couldn't Make It
Although it took a brawl for Jonny and I to settle the American badass debate, we did agree that the Charger Hellcat and the Model S P85D are the most badass sedans in the world. That said, there were a handful of other high-power sedans from around the globe that we considered inviting along -- not to mention some potential badasses waiting in the wings.
Badasses from Faraway LandsAmerica makes both the quickest and fastest (and thus most badass) sedans in the world, but a handful of high-po four-doors with foreign passports come close to matching our American badasses.
2015 Audi RS7: 560 hp/516 lb-ft of torque, 0-60 mph in 3.2 seconds, 190 mph top speed
2015 BMW M5: 575 hp/500 lb-ft of torque, 0-60 mph in 3.7 seconds, 190 mph top speed
2015 Jaguar XFR-S: 550 hp/502 lb-ft of torque, 0-60 mph in 4.4 seconds*, 186 mph top speed
2015 Jaguar XJR: 550 hp/502 lb-ft of torque, 0-60 mph in 3.8 seconds, 174 mph top speed
2015 Mercedes-AMG E63 S: 577 hp/590 lb-ft of torque, 0-60 mph in 3.4 seconds, 186 mph top speed
2015 Porsche Panamera Turbo S: 570 hp/590 lb-ft of torque, 0-60 mph in 3.6 seconds*, 192 mph top speed
Potential BadassesNone of those super sedans are quite as badass as the 707-hp Hellcat or 691-hp P85D, but a handful of potential badasses may have what it takes to tackle the Dodge and Tesla.
2016 Cadillac CTS-V: 640 hp/630 lb-ft of torque, 0-60 mph in 3.7 seconds*, 200 mph top speed
2016 Lexus GS F: 467 hp/389 lb-ft of torque, 0-60 mph in 4.3 seconds*, 170 mph top speed*
201? Infiniti Q50 Eau Rouge: 560 hp/443 lb-ft of torque, 0-60 mph in 3.3 seconds*, 185 mph top speed*
|2015 Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat||2015 Tesla Model S P85D|
|DRIVETRAIN LAYOUT||Front-engine, RWD||Front- and rear-motor, AWD|
|ENGINE TYPE||Supercharged 90-deg V-8, iron block/alum heads||AC induction electric motor|
|VALVETRAIN||OHV, 2 valves/cyl||-|
|DISPLACEMENT||376.2 cu in/6,166cc||-|
|BATTERY TYPE||-||85 kW-hr lithium-ion|
|POWER (SAE NET)||707 hp @ 6,000 rpm*||221 (front)/470 (rear)/691 (comb) hp|
|TORQUE (SAE NET)||650 lb-ft @ 4,800 rpm*||244 (front)/443 (rear)/687 (comb) lb-ft|
|WEIGHT TO POWER||6.5 lb/hp||7.2 lb/hp|
|TRANSMISSION||8-speed automatic||1-speed automatic|
|SUSPENSION, FRONT; REAR||Control arms, coil springs, adj shocks, anti-roll bar; multilink, coil springs, adj shocks, anti-roll bar||Control arms, air springs, anti-roll bar; multilink, air springs, anti-roll bar|
|BRAKES, F; R||15.4-in vented, slotted disc; 13.8-in vented, slotted disc, ABS||14.0-in vented disc; 14.4-in vented disc, ABS|
|WHEELS||9.5 x 20.0-in, forged aluminum||8.5 x 21.0-in, cast aluminum|
|TIRES, F; R||275/40R20 106Y Pirelli P Zero||245/35R21 96Y; 265/35R21 101Y Michelin Pilot Sport PS2|
|WHEELBASE||120.4 in||116.5 in|
|TRACK, F/R||64.0/63.7 in||65.4/66.9 in|
|LENGTH x WIDTH x HEIGHT||200.8 x 75.0 x 58.3 in||196.0 x 77.3 x 56.5 in|
|TURNING CIRCLE||38.5 ft||37.0 ft|
|CURB WEIGHT||4,562 lb||4,944 lb|
|WEIGHT DIST, F/R||57/43%||50/50%|
|HEADROOM, F/R||38.6/36.6 in||38.8/35.3 in|
|LEGROOM, F/R||41.8/40.1 in||42.7/35.4 in|
|SHOULDER ROOM, F/R||59.5/57.9 in||57.7/55.0 in|
|CARGO VOLUME**||16.5 cu ft||2.5 (fr), 26.3 (rr) cu ft|
|ACCELERATION TO MPH|
|0-30||1.7 sec||1.1 sec|
|PASSING, 45-65 MPH||1.5||1.7|
|QUARTER MILE||11.8 sec @ 124.3 mph||11.7 sec @ 113.7 mph|
|BRAKING, 60-0 MPH||104 ft||104 ft|
|LATERAL ACCELERATION||0.94 g (avg)||0.90 g (avg)|
|MT FIGURE EIGHT||24.5 sec @ 0.91 g (avg)||25.2 sec @ 0.79 g (avg)|
|TOP-GEAR REVS @ 60 MPH||1,250 rpm||7,300 (fr); 7,200 (rr) rpm|
|PRICE AS TESTED||$69,670||$132,820|
|AIRBAGS||Dual front, front side, f/r curtain, driver knee||Dual front, front side, f/r curtain, front knee|
|BASIC WARRANTY||3 yrs/36,000 miles||4 yrs/50,000 miles|
|POWERTRAIN WARRANTY||5 yrs/100,000 miles||4 yrs/50,000 miles|
|ROADSIDE ASSISTANCE||5 yrs/100,000 miles||4 yrs/50,000 miles|
|FUEL CAPACITY||18.5 gal||-|
|EPA CITY/HWY/COMB ECON||13/22/16 mpg||89/98/93 mpg-e|
|ENERGY CONS, CITY/HWY||259/153 kW-hrs/100 miles||38/34 kW-hrs/100 miles (gas equiv)|
|CO2 EMISSIONS, COMB||1.22 lb/mile||0.00 lb/mile (at vehicle)|
|REAL MPG CITY/HWY/COMB||15.1/21.9/17.6 mpg||-|
|RECOMMENDED FUEL||Unleaded premium||220-volt electricity|
|*SAE Certified **Cargo volume is computed differently for sedans and hatchbacks, so these figures are not directly comparable.|