Bi-Turbo Baritones & Hemi Vocals at Circuit of the Americas 

When I first saw Dodge’s new ad for the Brotherhood of Muscle (with Vin Diesel), I had a negative reaction. First impressions made it look like Mopar would now be the frat boy, nationally agreed-upon fleet machine. Which annoyed me, but only because I’m a true admirer of Mopars. It was the first time in my life that I felt like a hipster, that whole I liked them before they were cool moment. It’s no secret that FCA is putting a higher octane spin on an old formula: Make them loud, make them brightly colored, keep them under six figures and prepare for backorders. And that – of course – is a huge improvement from cartoon horns and 90-day warranties into some truly impressive cars that can do more than just burnouts.

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At this year’s 2017 Texas Auto Roundup, hosted by the Texas Auto Writers Association, I had a golden ticket opportunity to test out FCA’s finest, back to back! And do it on a Formula One track! The opp(s) included, but were not limited to:

  • 2017 Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat
  • 2017 Dodge Charger SRT Daytona
  • 2017 Dodge Challenger T/A 392
  • 2017 Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio

I’m 24, can’t legally rent a car from a company I used to work for, but here I am jumping in and out of these cars like Speed Racer. The journalist in me wanted to put aside all Vanishing Point, Christine, Bullitt fantasies and remain unbiased. However, the car guy in me wanted to know if all the trash talk on the forums were real. Are they too heavy? All flash and noise used to make tire smoke?

2017 Dodge Challenger T/A 392, the Green Machine 

The sun was still rising when I lined up the Challenger T/A to exit pit lane onto the Circuit of the Americas race track. Waiting for the cars ahead to clear gave me time to check the dashboard, making sure the driver settings were okay. Everything on sport mode? Good. Into manual so I could use the paddle shifters. Good. Wait for the signal…okay, punch it!

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Read the Full first impression review of the T/A as well as performance and trim levels here!

2017 Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat & Daytona, the Power Twins 

Choosing a Mopar is starting to feel like going to an ice cream store. So many colorful options, and each one makes a great noise. The Daytona is basically a visual trim package. You get the cool throwback “Daytona” decals paying tribute to the 200mph winged warriors of 1970, and upgraded Daytona embroidered leather seats. And then there’s a 485 horsepower Hemi V8 with 8-speeds of baritone to play with.

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The Hellcat? Well if you haven’t heard by now then you either don’t care or you’re too young to read this, so I’ll save you the 707 horsepower speech, skipping to how they felt on the track.

They felt like pro wrestlers. They are the only things that make figurative sense when trying to compare these vehicles to something non-automotive you might (or might not…) know.

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The Mopar products are so big, yet move with such grace. Once you get a feel for how the Charger SRT accelerates you’ll find how responsive the steering is for its size and weight. I had no trouble controlling these cars under hard braking going into turns at COTA.

I felt comfortable taking sharp turns at highway speeds because I knew I was not going to get body roll. The Hellcat and Daytona are poised in keeping their paws on the track. Of course, if you want to cut loose just put your foot in it and brace for the G-force.

2017 Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio, the Italian Baritone  

This car actually won Texas Car of the Year at the 2017 Auto Roundup. Really. Which means that most, if not all, the journalists giggled the first time they accelerated from 0-60 in the 2017 Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio. The steering in the Alfa is feather light, with the precision of a surgeon’s hand. The bi-turbo V6 jump scares you off the line, just as brutal and exciting as its American cousins, and just as loud. With a 0-60 time of 3.8 seconds and 505 horsepower it’s not surprising this thing gets compared to a BMW M3.

How to Sum Up These Cars 

The best way to summarize just how cool these cars are, beyond facts and figures, was something I noticed at the event. Every time any of these cars launched off the line the whole place stopped for a moment to listen, no needed smiles or facial expressions required. It was just a split moment of distraction followed by admiration. That is the level of cool with which these machines speak.

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Read more articles, stories, and reviews here!

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