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Dodge has raised the muscle car bar yet again. The 2023 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat Demon 170 boasts 1,025 horsepower, which can launch it to 60 mph in just 1.66 seconds and through the 1/4-mile in just 8.91. In addition to supercar-like acceleration, it features red leather interior and a limited run that won’t exceed 3,300 vehicles. Has Dodge finally reached supercar status? What about hypercar status? Here’s why the latest Dodge Demon may need its own market segment. But first, some definitions.

What defines a supercar?

A supercar has long referred to any manufacturer’s top-of-the-line sports car (beginning with the 1920 6.7-liter Bentley). While some American automakers referred to their 1970s muscle cars as supercars, the term has since come to mean production vehicles that accelerate, handle, and brake nearly as well as race cars. Automotive enthusiasts often have differing opinions on which cars fit into this category.

Promo photo of a SRT Dodge Demon parked in a garage, a red Challenger behind it.
2023 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat Demon 170 | Stellantis

What defines a hypercar?

As the label “supercar” became more popular, many automotive journalists and marketing departments have begun to use the phrase “hypercar” to differentiate the top 1% of performance vehicles. So while some might call the Audi R8 a supercar, only a limited edition, such as the Lotus Evija, would be called a hypercar.

Bird's-eye view of the Demon 170 supercar sitting on the tarmac at a drag strip.
2023 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat Demon 170 | Stellantis

One defining attribute of a hypercar is its price–according to Howards Motor Group. Vehicles such as the $3 million+ Bugatti Chiron signal that neither the automaker nor the owner is concerned with the bottom line. Both can afford to pursue perfection in the form of the most capable and luxurious vehicle possible. Just like the supercar category, individual definitions of what a hypercar will vary.

Enthusiasts decide which vehicles are supercars or hypercars

The red leather seats custom made for the Dodge Demon 170.
2023 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat Demon 170 | Stellantis

At the end of the day, both supercar and hypercar are arbitrary labels, even slang terms even. It is not up to automakers to slap a hypercar label on any vehicle they want to sell more of. So I asked the internet what category the 2023 Dodge SRT Hellcat Demon 170 fits into by posting a poll to Twitter:

The answers were illuminating. My poll earned 129 votes. Of respondents, 7.8% say the latest Demon is a hyper car. Twice as many, 15.5%, would classify it as a super car. The vast majority: 76.7%, call it a muscle car.

The majority of folks on Twitter seem to agree that the Demon 170 never wanted to be a super car. Here’s what they had to say:

It does one thing in a manner that is legitimately “super”, while a tue ‘supercar’ is not only fast in a 1/4 mile, but around corners, top speed, and generally represents the leading edge of design, technology, and sometimes luxury. So no. But Dodge and Demon owners don’t care.

Twitter user @TheBadEgg3

Hyper muscle, I would call the C8 a supercar before I call an SRT one outside of the Viper.

Twitter user @Thecarhoarder

No it’s just a drag built muscle car. I love my demons and hellcats but I can’t imagine it can do much with that 1025 ona windy road like a hypercar could

Twitter user @AYOCali_

super/hypercars to me often denote skill in grip racing or homologation for a race series. id say this is a car we need a new word for! maybe supermuscle(?)

Twitter user @dunderheadg00d

Can’t be a hypercar as those have no concern towards cost. This shares too many parts. It’s not a supercar as it’s not designed for handling at speed. It’s absolutely a muscle car. RWD, big engine, big power, built to accelerate hard from a standstill.

Twitter user @ReverendDexter

Other choice descriptors included: “The last of the old school muscle cars.” (@M3guuu), “A sledgehammer on wheels.” (@jffxns), and the double entendre “A hype car.” (@CarCounsel).

So is the Dodge Demon 170 a supercar or a hypercar?

The internet has spoken: even the 1,025-horsepower Dodge Demon has all four tires firmly planted in muscle car territory. Chrysler Corporation is certainly capable of building a supercar: take for example the Dodge Viper or the Chrysler ME Four-Twelve mid-engine concept. A future Dodge supercar may even share a chassis with its Maserati cousins.

The SRT Demon 170 does a wheelie as it launches at a drag strip, a crowd visible in the background.
2023 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat Demon 170 | Stellantis

When Dodge’s SRT division set out to design its final last-call Challenger, it did not try to build a car that could corner like a supercar. It wisely doubled down on what made the supercharged SRT Hellcat special: straight-line speed. The resulting Demon 170 is one of the quickest drag racers ever built in a Detroit factory. It could aptly be called a “Super Muscle Car,” in the same category as Shelby or Hennessy limited editions. But Dodge was obviously not trying to build a super car.

You can join the conversation by commenting on the poll on my Twitter.

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