New York auto show: Yankees roll out the big guns for horsepower orgy

Dodge’s 850hp Challenger Demon is the perfect car for Trump’s America

 

When the big US carmakers start rolling out the full-size V8s with outrageous horsepowers, history tells us that two things will coincide. A Republican in the White House (Nixon then, Trump now) and a shock in oil prices that will kill off this latest iteration of the muscle car (OPEC has to be planning something, right?).

Actually, muscle car seems hardly sufficient to describe the Dodge Challenger Demon, as it was muscular to begin with and has now apparently been chugging creatine powder three meals a day.

Record breaker

The Demon takes the already-ridiculously-powerful 710bhp 6.2-litre supercharged V8 engine from the Challenger Hellcat, and cranks it into full-blown insanity for an output of 850bhp. That’s only a Golf 1.5 TSI away from a full Bugatti Veyron power output… Turbo boost is raised to 14.5psi, while there’s also an uprated fuel pump to keep shovelling the dead dinosaurs in at a commensurate rate.

According to the National Hot Rod Association (NHRA – the governing body of drag racing) the Challenger Demon is new Guinness-certified as the fastest production car to reach a quarter-mile from standstill, doing the benchmark sprint in 9.65 seconds. That’s after it takes just 2.5 seconds to hit 100km/h, and a scarcely believable 1.0 second to hit 50km/h from standstill.

The Dodge Challenger SRT Demon takes the already-ridiculously-powerful 710bhp 6.2-litre supercharged V8 engine from the Challenger Hellcat, and cranks it into full-blown insanity for an output of 850bhp. Photograph: Julie Jacobson
The Dodge Challenger SRT Demon takes the already-ridiculously-powerful 710bhp 6.2-litre supercharged V8 engine from the Challenger Hellcat, and cranks it into full-blown insanity for an output of 850bhp. Photograph: Julie Jacobson

To do that, the Demon uses a clever launch control system called CrossBrake, which locks up the transmission to allow the driver to build up engine revs without overwhelming the brakes. Oh, and that massive bonnet air scoop is functional, and the car can even divert the air conditioning to cool the air intake for improved power. And it can run on 100-octane fuel if you like.

After all that, the Demon’s cousin at the New York show seems almost sensible. The Jeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawk is the most performance-focused SUV the famed brand has ever created. It uses the same supercharged V8 engine as the Demon, but here in it’s slightly-more-sane 710hp “Hellcat” output. To get to 0-100km/h takes less than four seconds, and the top speed is just shy of 300km/h.

The Trackhawk gets massive 400mm Brembo front brakes, beefed-up rear axle, Bilstein adaptive dampers for the suspension and 20-inch wheels. Given all that, the chunky bodykit is surprisingly subtle, and you’ll struggle to tell it apart from lesser V8 and diesel-engined models.

AMG fun

Mercedes-Benz decided that it wasn’t going to let Jeep have all the hi-po SUV fun, though, and has launched AMG versions of the GLC and GLC Coupe in New York. Both models come with a 476hp twin-turbo V8 4.0-litre engine, which can be boosted to 510hp for the S version.

Mercedes-Benz launched AMG versions of the GLC and GLC Coupe in New York
Mercedes-Benz launched AMG versions of the GLC and GLC Coupe in New York

The standard model takes 4.0secs to crack 100km/h while the GLC 63 S can do the same sprint in just 3.8secs. As if that wasn’t enough, both GLC and GLC Coupe will get the striking “Panamericana” radiator grille lifted from the AMG GT sports car. Sales won’t start till 2018, so you have plenty of time to save up the necessary circa-€120,000 that one will cost.

Genesis Korean-style

Hyundai meanwhile is pushing the luxury button for its SUV concept, the GV80. It’s not actually a Hyundai at all, but designed for Hyundai’s Genesis luxury brand, which should arrive on Irish shores in the next couple of years. Those hoping for a GV80 shouldn’t hold their breath though – it uses an ultra-high tech hydrogen fuel cell drivetrain (Hyundai has been one of the world leaders in fuel cell tech for some time now), has floorboards instead of carpets (although disappointingly Hyundai doesn’t say if they’re solid or semi-solid), and a massive 22-inch curved dashboard display.

The styling, which does seem to be rather influenced by what Ford is doing with its Lincoln luxury brand, will make it to production though, so expect to see a Genesis-badged SUV with similar looks in short order.

Speaking of Lincoln, the Ford-owned brand introduced its new, massive, luxurious, Navigator SUV at the show. It won’t mean much in an Irish context, but it could be a lynchpin for a revival of this oft-troubled brand and you’ll likely see plenty of these dropping rich persons off to Van Cleef & Arpels next time you’re in New York.

At a more realistic level, Subaru introduced a heavily restyled Crosstrek crossover (better known as the XV here) which should help its cause, not least because it comes with a much higher quality interior, and options such as Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity.

Subaru will have to work hard to bring down the too-high Irish price for the model if it wants sales to increase here, though. There was a facelifted version of the Outback too, and a new large seven-seat SUV called the Ascent which won’t be coming here.

Nissan’s X-Trail with tank tracks instead of wheels at the New York auto show
Nissan’s X-Trail with tank tracks instead of wheels at the New York auto show

Nissan’s luxury brand Infiniti, still in a will-they-won’t-they conundrum as far as the Irish market is concerned, showed off the QX80 “Monograph” – a super-luxury SUV concept that unfortunately had a run-in with the ugly stick, looking as if some early-2000s Ssangyong stylists were let loose on a Nissan Patrol and left unsupervised. We rather preferred the X-Trail concept done up to look like a Star Wars X-Wing spaceship, not to mention the other X-Trail (called Rogue in the US market) with tank tracks instead of wheels.

Elsewhere, Buick showed off its Opel-Insignia-based Regal and Regal Touring X – both models will be built in Opel’s German plants and it is an arrangement that General Motors has said it wants to see continuing post-Opel’s sale to PSA Peugeot Citroen. Honda launched a coupe version of the new Civic in SI form (a car which Honda’s Irish importer has said they’d love to get their hands on), while Audi launched its new Audi Sport brand, which includes existing high-performance models such as the R8 and RS6, and which will gain an additional 24 models over the next two years.

Lexus unveiled the F-Sport version of the new LS, which comes with the same hybrid drivetrain as the standard model, but which is the first overtly-sporting version of its big saloon
Lexus unveiled the F-Sport version of the new LS, which comes with the same hybrid drivetrain as the standard model, but which is the first overtly-sporting version of its big saloon

Volkswagen continued its American mea culpa efforts by introducing its longest warranty ever – six years’ cover for the new US-market Atlas SUV. Lexus unveiled the F-Sport version of the new LS, which comes with the same hybrid drivetrain as the standard model, but which is the first overtly-sporting version of its big saloon.

For all the massive V8 engines and hulking SUVs though, there was a corner of the New York show that was a little more outward looking. The Toyota Prius Plugin was awarded the World Green Car Of The Year, with Jack Hollis, Toyota’s North American vice president saying, “It is a great honour to see the Prius Prime named World Green Car. For global automakers like Toyota, this award is a testament to our focus on developing products that both stir the emotions and meet the mobility needs of our customers in all corners of the world.”

It was a nice reminder that there’s a world outside Trump land.