Size Zero has done its season in the US but thankfully has spared, and will never touch, the likes of the Charger. The Dodge Charger upsizes your drive at great value. Big is beautiful, big is a beast, big is breathtaking!
If I took it for a beast all this while; something to make the list of the meanest and largest predators that trod the earth since 1964; you can’t blame me. The Dodge Charger is a big one, and it’s as menacing as a car can get. So much so that if someone wants to move over to an SUV yet not leave behind the comforts of a sedan, I wonder why would anyone think of the neuter gender of a Crossover? The Dodge Charger should be it. On 20” wheels, with a long way between the bow and the stern, the Charger is more like a battleship on wheels.
Once you enter its reinforced cage, you realize the beast has undergone a course in impeccable etiquette and refinement, with road manners that almost tempts you to call the formidable presence “elegant”. Presence is what the Charger is all about. An intimidating one as it storms down the highway, the Charger is surprisingly silent – like the bulwark that Hugh Jackman is as he minds his ranch beyond the Billabong. The power is felt rather than heard – despite the 5.7 L HEMI V8 engine that works up a 370 bhp storm like a breeze!
Even at high speeds, the braking response is efficient but it doesn’t make its weight felt on the passengers. The dips and bumps on the road are hardly felt, whereas the heavy car has this quirky tendency to sway a bit on an undulating highway, somewhat like a railway carriage along the countryside. Even as it’s no shaky ride, the few who notice it may find it ‘unsettling’.
While its muscular bigness is its trademark appeal, the Charger counterbalances its bulk through a plethora of technologically assisted features to help you dodge any challenge that may crop up. Blindspot Monitoring System, Parking Assist with a Rear Cross Path feature to help you reverse out of parallel parking spots and an extra-wide rear camera make the Charger smooth for its driver and safe for everyone else!
The cabin is largely made of leather – there isn’t any trace of wood in the marque that has come beyond a journey of half a century. The all-black interiors and the Alcantara seats stitched with fabric and felt give the car an essentially sporting luxury disposition.
The Alpine music system is reasonably good, if you don’t expect a scintillating concert out of it, like I did. However, I found the convenience of choosing your song from the on-screen browsing list particularly convenient.
The driver-friendly features in the cabin obliges to keep you comfortable in its rather lofty seats, with convenient adjustment space (automatic in the top of the line) for the steering, the seats and why, even the pedals. At the touch of a button at your seat-side, the brake pedal lifts itself up to suit your leg space. The Alcantara leather seats offer ample cushioning for your lumbar area but there is only heating facility – and no cooling – of the seats.
The interactive screens and their contents open a voluminous book of information. The Driver information screen in front of the steering covers almost every detail regarding your car, from service schedule and tire pressure monitoring to important cues from the navigation system. The multi-function screen on the central console is versatile and easy to use with a touch. This is your seat of knowledge, with faculties ranging from entertainment media to navigation systems.
The navigation system (maps can be easily changed using an SD card insert slot) offers three modes, including a 3-dimensional perspective. I found the icons and classification of the navigator particularly user-friendly with a keypad to tap in your destination address. The system also displays the local speed limit and it pays to check it out once in a while. What I found odd was the colour combination of the navigation system that runs riot amidst the black-dominated interiors of the Charger.
The menacing front grille is a legend. The design lines on the sides, starting like surfboard strokes from the A pillar, run all the way between the muscular front and rear fenders lending a fast car touch. These strokes adorn the hood as well.
The taillights run across the back like a Mexican moustache. Lighting up in billboard red, the 164 LED cluster reminded me of the American Dream lighting up Las Vegas. Thanks to its extra-long design, the boot-space can offer to transport half a dozen stowaways!
The Adaptive Cruise Control did impress me, surprising given the control freak I am! It allows you to take better decisions, as you’ve delegated the task of speed regulation to the machine.
The Charger falls short of no comforting innovation that has come up in recent times. And from the old, it has retained the magnificent charm of macho power.
Stuff that needs getting used to
While the automatically dimming rearview mirrors are a blessing, there is a minor glitch in the Charger’s central mirror – headlights from the cars behind you get diffused by the heater elements on the rear windscreen. Needs getting used to!
Fuel efficiency and value: The charger comes with a huge fuel tank for it guzzles gas like a worthy American large car should. Its 5.7 L engine vaporized nearly 15.5L every 100 km my Drive covered.
Despite being a classic brand with a niche following, what’s amazing is the American spirit of keeping the prices low enough to translate a muscle car into a value proposition! How much ever the metrosexual man evolves, Macho can never go away with the Charger around.
Upside: Imposing presence on road / Silent for its size / Refined cabin comforts and etiquette / Full-fledged on-road and parking support / Excellent buying value
Flipside: Minor swaying felt due to the bigness / Ramp turns demand caution / Wide rear LED lamp elicit mixed reactions / 5.7 L engine can hike up fuel cost
Drive Courtesy: The Chrysler Group, Middle East
Picture Courtesy: Supplied / Facebook: Supplied/Madhu Kunhappan