ONE SCALDED CAT: A thirsty, noisy, devilishy fun muscle car coupe, Dodge’s outrageous Challenger SRT Hellcat claws for traction at each imprudent poke of the accelerator

With a yowling supercharged Hemi V-8, the Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat makes its presence known aurally before it’s ever seen.

Just ask the neighbors.

Even at its deep, throbbing idle, the Hellcat’s 6.5-liter, 707-horsepower beast of a V-8 engine can vibrate windows and frighten pets.

This is a high-performance car that requires a cautious approach and a driver’s full attention. Driven reasonably, the Hellcat is a perfectly fine day-to-day sport coupe. But really, who’s going to fork over $70K to putter to and from work?

No, this is a vehicle designed to be driven hard. And the best place to do that is at the track – or at least a lonesome rural two-lane – where the ‘Cat’s potential can be fully appreciated and explored.

As awesome as it is, the engine is just one aspect of the car’s performance portfolio. A heavy-duty eight-speed automatic transmission delivers that prodigious power to the rear wheels through a locking differential, while snapping off shifts in milliseconds.

The chassis has also received a thorough upgrade, with an SRT-tuned Bilstein 3-mode competition suspension system with driver-configurable drive modes: Street, Sport and Track.

To match the thrust, there are oversized Brembo brakes all around. Given the car’s potential (Dodge claims a 199 mph top speed), and weight (4,493 pounds), those brakes have their work cut out for them, and they fully meet the challenge.

Under way, the communicative steering has just the right amount of heft to help keep the ‘Cat on course. At low-speed parking lot maneuvers, though, the big coupe can be a bit of a handful, exacerbated by its rather wide turning radius and limited rearward visibility.

Inside, you’ll find excellent leather-clad sport buckets and an up-to-date, screen-controlled infotainment system. Dual climate controls keep things comfy, but require some off-the-road eye time to adjust.

At interstate speeds, the Dodge delivers a surprisingly docile ride, the exhaust roar calms down, and the 18-speaker Harmon Kardon audio system provides excellent sounds, making a very pleasant road trip companion. Until you get the itch to punch the accelerator again, just because, well, there’s 707 horsepower lurking under your right foot.

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