Is GM Preparing to Take On the Dodge Hellcat?
In its first year on sale, Dodge’s Hellcat twins have been a runaway success. The supercharged 707 horsepower Challenger and Charger have proven so popular that the company can’t meet demand for 2015, the company is likely to launch a Hellcat-ified Jeep Grand Cherokee (known as the Trackhawk) in 2017, and lately, it seems like even the compact Jeep Renegade will get a Hellcat version. But with this formula working so well for parent company Fiat Chrysler, a response from any of its competitors has been notably absent. But all that may change very soon, because General Motors looks like they’re ready to get into the Hellcat-slaying business – albeit on a very, very limited scale.
Part of what made the Hellcats such a shock is their unmatched combination of power and value. The Tesla P90D, and the Cadillac CTS-V come within striking distance of the 204 mile per hour Charger sedan (the faster of the two), but the Tesla is the only one that can outgun the Hellcats on power – and both cars cost thousands more. But if anyone can really beat FCA at the horsepower-per-dollar game, it’s GM, which all but invented the muscle car formula, and hates not being the first to think of an idea.
The likeliest candidate GM has for a Hellcat-style makeover would be the Chevrolet SS, with its 6.2 liter V8 driving 415 horsepower through the rear wheels, and a row-your-own gearbox. In a way, that’s what’s going to happen – except the car won’t be a Chevy, we won’t be getting it here, and there’s a very good chance we probably never will. Sources inside GM say the SS, better known as the Holden Commodore in its native country Australia, will be receiving the 650 horsepower LS9 V8 from the last-generation Corvette ZR-1, and unfortunately, it doesn’t look like Holden is interested in exporting any.
If anyone loves straight-line speed and horsepower as much as we Americans do, it’s the Australians. Holden has been offering its own unique brand of muscle cars Down Under for decades. It’s gotten so good at it, that parent company GM has noticed all the way from Detroit, and has been importing Holdens on the sly for a decade now. Remember the 6.0 liter Pontiac GTO of 2004-’06? Nothing more than a Holden Monaro VZ. The Pontiac G8, the brilliant last gasp from that once-proud brand? a Holden Commodore. In fact, GM liked the Commodore so much that after it killed Pontiac, they kept importing the car, badged as the police-only Chevrolet Caprice PPV, and later, the Chevy SS.
So Holden gets speed, and sometimes we get Holdens, but it doesn’t look like we’ll be getting this one. As Road & Track points out, this hot Holden is most likely less of a true Hellcat slayer, and more of a way for GM to deplete its supply of LS9 engines. It’s been an orphan since the ZR-1 left production, and despite GM trying to sell crate engines for $26,000 apiece, there are still quite a few to go around. The task of shoehorning that big V8 into the cars will fall to HSV, Holden’s tuning arm, and when all is said and done Drive Australia predicts that a Commodore with the LS9 mill and carbon ceramic brakes from the ZR-1 would likely drive prices up around $100,000. Powerful or not, that’s a hefty price tag for a Chevy.
So we probably won’t see GM’s first attempt at a Hellcat killer. But that doesn’t mean that we couldn’t see something similar within the next few years. Since going on sale as a 2014 model, the enthusiast-oriented Chevy SS has sold in shockingly limited numbers, but with sales numbers surprisingly up, and the car returning for 2016, an even hotter version doesn’t seem to be out of the realm of possibility. And while we might have to wait a while, this is all okay. Let Holden work out the kinks in the Outback, watch the price of horsepower continue to fall, and before we know it, the streets will be crawling with 700+ horsepower super sedans. Hey, we can dream, right?
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