Will Dodge Bring the Challenger Hellcat Manual Back in 2022?
If you’re looking for the antithesis of electrification, the Dodge Challenger Hellcat is a solid contender for the position. Although it’s no longer the top cat in SRT’s stable, it’s still a 717-hp muscle car throwback in the best way possible. Unfortunately, it recently lost one of the ingredients in its old-school recipe: its third pedal. And if you’re looking to row a manual supercharged Dodge Challenger’s gears in the future, know that the situation’s getting complicated.
Dodge hasn’t offered a manual transmission in the Challenger SRT Hellcat since 2021
To maximize performance, Dodge only offers the most extreme Challenger Hellcat models with eight-speed automatics. However, the ‘regular’ version offers a six-speed manual, making it the only Hellcat product with a stick. Or at least, it was the only stick-shift Hellcat.
In December 2021, a Dodge Challenger enthusiast forum member posted about the manual option disappearing from the Hellcat configurator, Road & Track reports. Given the timing, it could’ve been a model-year changeover-related glitch. However, we’re now three months into 2022, and the stick is nowhere in sight.
In addition, it appears that the manual disappearing act happened before December. One of the original forum post’s repliers claims they’ve been waiting on their manual Dodge Challenger Hellcat since August. R&T confirmed as such when it reached out to Dodge. A spokesperson said that the Challenger Hellcat manual “was removed from the configurator late in the 2021 model year.” Furthermore, all manual Hellcat production stopped in November 2021.
There is some good news for stick-shift fans on the horizon, though. But it comes with some worrying news mixed in.
Dodge says the Challenger SRT Hellcat manual needs some calibration before it returns—if it does return
First, the good news. According to Dodge, the Challenger SRT Hellcat manual isn’t 100% dead. However, the automaker needs to do some powertrain calibration before it goes back on sale. As of this writing, there’s no concrete return date. But the Dodge spokesperson claims it’s “a temporary situation,” R&T says.
Admittedly, automakers stopping sales and production of certain cars and/or options seemingly out of the blue isn’t that unusual. An obsolete California law temporarily prevented Porsche from selling manual cars there last year, for example. And Chevrolet had to do something similar with the 2021 Camaro because of high-copper-content brake pads.
That last example was motivated by environmental regulations. And something similar could be behind the manual Dodge Challenger Hellcat’s return.
Dodge told MotorTrend that powertrain calibrations are “a normal part of vehicle production.” However, MT notes that the original Challenger forum thread mentioned emissions regulations as a potential source of delays. These regulations were what forced Ford to retune some of its V8-powered Mustangs for 2022. It’s possible therefore that Dodge is simply having trouble cleaning the stick-shift Challenger Hellcat up. So, when it is clean enough, it’ll come back.
However, these alleged emissions issues could also effectively keep the manual Hellcat from ever coming back. Keep in mind, the current Challenger is dead after 2023. And the supercharged Hellcat Hemi V8 is on its last legs, too. In other words, the stick-shift Challenger Hellcat is a niche version of a product in its twilight years. So, even though Challenger sales are up year-over-year, Dodge might not have a financial incentive to keep this specific model around.
Are other stick-shift Challengers available?
Although the manual Challenger Hellcat’s future is a tad uncertain right now, the other manual Dodge Challengers are still around. Plus, depending on who you ask, they’re arguably just as if not more enjoyable on the road.
If you want to save some significant cash, the cheapest V8-powered Challenger, the R/T, starts at $37,980 before destination. Or, for slightly more, you could get the R/T Scat Pack Widebody, which handles and stops better than the Hellcat. And it’s not like its 4.5-second 0-60 mph time is slow.
So, even if the stick-shift Hellcat doesn’t roar back, Dodge has plenty of other manual muscle cars for you to shift.
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