Car News

Fiat Chrysler NZ wants Dodge Challenger Hellcat

The Dodge Challenger Hellcat won’t make it to Australia, not officially anyway, but Fiat Chrysler New Zealand is investigating how it can get its hand on the 527kw/881Nm beast.

FIAT CHRYSLER AUSTRALIA might have ruled out bringing the left-hand drive only Hellcat-powered Dodge Charger and Challenger to Australia, but its New Zealand counterpart is investigating how to bring the two-door Challenger Hellcat to the land of the long white cloud.

According to Richard Bosselman (Yahoo Autos Editor and Practical Motoring contributor) excitement about the Hellcat engine has triggered investigation into how to achieve delivery to Kiwi customers. With suggestions the Challenger could make it to New Zealand in 2015.

Taking the car is not just a matter of FCNZ picking up the phone and placing an order. As much as left- hookers are okay here, Fiat Chrysler still has to agree we’re appropriate.

“I don’t think we can get the Charger because it is a four-door,” explained FCNZ product planner Lance Bennett. “I don’t think it meets that low volume stipulation. It has to be a two-door, not produced in right hand drive and be a significant collectors’ car. The Challenger fits that bill.”

“We are certainly investigating the possibility and have made inquiry. We think it can be done, we think we might qualify.”
Bennett does not know how many Challengers might be available to FCNZ and says it is unlikely any cars will get here before the end of this year. He says it is unlikely the product will become available as a showroom choice. Rather, FCNZ will probably only deliver on an indent basis.

It stands to reason that this would also be high performance at a budget price. But Bennett is loath to go there for now.

He recognizes that the ultimate Challenger looks relatively inexpensive with a start out tag on its home market of just $US61,000. However he warns about simply taking those domestic market stickers and converting them into NZ dollars. It’s not that easy.

“You have to be cautious of making straight conversions. But I’m really hoping we can get some good pricing on it. Once we know we have access to production we can start to look at price.“

The favourable currency condition actually conceivably makes life harder for FCNZ; central to the low volume allowance is a quota allocation, he adds. “I’ve heard that with the currency being as it is, there are not that many permits available. It’s getting quite tough to get them for the remainder of this year … but by the time we get this all under way it will be early next year any way.”

Even if just a handful of Hellcat Challengers turn up, FCNZ can safely assume the source will not be dry. Dodge’s parent has assured that reports that this engine’s production will be limited to a low volume are not true.

The engine is paired with an eight-speed automatic transmission and sends all that power to the rear wheels fitted with 9.5-inch wide Pirelli P Zero tyres wrapped around 20-inch forged alloy wheels. Hellcats have super-sized brakes – Brembo discs measuring 390mm on the front and grabbed by six- piston calipers – and other performance upgrades include adaptive suspension that can be altered between road and track settings.

Here in Australia a handful of local importers have expressed an interest in bringing in a few cars once they go on-sale, suggesting once converted the Challenger Hellcat will cost buyers around $180,000.


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Isaac Bober

Isaac Bober