The last few weeks have given readers with lots of information on the Mustang and Camaro pony cars, and this release of information has Challenger owner and fans curious as to what’s next for their beloved vehicle.
The last few weeks in the automotive world have given American automotive fans a lot to mull over. We’ve learned more and more about the Chevrolet Alpha platform and what could be in store for the future of their LT engine line (including knowledge that the next-generation Camaro SS will almost certainly feature the Corvette’s 450+ HP LT1 Engine). We’ve found out that the next-generation Mustang will start with an EcoBoost 4 cylinder engine, and feature V6 and V8 variations with HP numbers comparable to their current line. We also know that the next-gen Mustang will feature independent rear suspension, and now, we’ve been told that it will shave “a minimum of 400 pounds” off of its curb weight. We know that the Camaro will also be lighter.
What do we know about the Challenger? Not very much. We’re aware that a Hellcat V8, with 600+HP capabilities, is being designed right now. We know that there will be a next-generation Challenger. But, that’s it really. So, then, to remain competitive in this difficult market, what must the next-generation Challenger accomplish?
The obvious answer comes in the form of weight savings. But, what else?
The next-generation Challenger will have to be lighter. At 3834 pounds the Challenger is the heaviest of the three current generation vehicles by a fair bit. Even if it were to shave 400 pounds from its current weight, it would barely clock in below the slim Mustang–with it’s 3495 curb weight. So, for the next generation the Challenger will have to go on a severe diet. Cutting weight by working with a smaller chassis and lightweight materials will help the vehicle in a number of ways. The lower curb weight will make the Challenger more nimble. It will also result in better EPA fuel efficiency numbers at all vehicle trim levels. It’s also going to be a necessity to remain competitive. With the weight of the Challenger its largest knock at current, it’s going to have to work on that.
So, how much weight is the Challenger going to have to lose? By moving to the Alpha platform for the ATS, Cadillac was able to shave more than 400 pounds from the predecessor CTS’s weight. We have to assume–since the CTS and Camaro share chassis construction, and the next-generation Camaro will share platforms with the ATS–that similar weight savings are in store for that vehicle. 400 pounds lot will put the Mustang at 3100 pound curb weight, and the Camaro at 3300. The Challenger is going to have to come close. A 3400 pound Dodge Challenger, while still the heaviest of the three, will handle infinitely better than its current iteration. It’s going to have to reach numbers like that.
What else is the Challenger going to have to do? Offering a Hellcat V8 is a big first step. The Challenger has lagged behind its competitors’ HP numbers for its entire life. A newer Pentastar V6 would be a fantastic starting point. They’ll almost certainly want to avoid going the 4 cylinder route of the Mustang, as, while that’s good for European markets, it has potential to decimate the vehicle’s image Stateside.
Improving the handling will also be key. The handling for the Challenger has been much maligned, in large part because of its weight. Moving to a smaller and lighter chassis will help with that issue, but, something more needs to be done. The higher end Camaros will be offering Magnetic Ride Suspension systems which, and take my word on this one, are an absolute dream for the person behind the wheel. Fiat has similar suspension systems at their disposal thanks to their ownership stakes in Ferrari, Maserati, and Alfa Romeo. They’ll be well suited to source a technologically superior suspension system, akin to the MRS, for the higher end Challengers. A Hellcat powered 600+ HP Challenger with lighter chassis, more aggressive stance, and European supercar suspension could be the sort of vehicle that would change the game entirely.
Lastly, Dodge needs to continue doing what they’ve done better than their competitors for the next-generation: true, muscle car styling. The Challenger has been the undeniable beauty queen of this generation. The Camaro and, less so the Mustang, are very nice looking cars, but nothing can compete with the powerful appearance and build of the Challenger. Its looks have only become more appreciated with time, even, and its rising sales numbers–while its competitors are dropping–are indicative of this. With the Mustang moving to a more European look, a la their Evos concept, and the Camaro likely to follow that same route–we’re expecting something similar to their Code 130R prototype as well–Challenger has a chance to truly set themselves far apart. An aggressive, classically styled Challenger–that doesn’t try to be some Euro-American sports hybrid–will have true appeal to American buyers, and that, undoubtedly, is Challenger’s secret to success moving forward.