A head-turning beast

If anyone tells you that a 50 year old shouldn't be driving a Challenger, then firstly I'm not quite 50, and secondly quite frankly they have no idea what they are talking about; everyone should be driving one!  I'm not one to use superlatives that often, but the Dodge Challenger SRT8 is brilliant and undeniably one of the most exhilarating and exciting drives I have had in a very long time.

Before I go into detail, let me just give you a few figures to whet your taste buds. It has a V8 6.4L 392-cubic-inch engine, the biggest engine on the island, which sounds unbelievably gorgeous and delivers a thumping 470 horsepower (350 kW) and 470 lb·ft (640 N·m) of torque. It goes from 0-100kph in about 4.7 seconds. It's top speed, well let's just say that there are very few cars on the island whose speedometer registers 300kph – that's 187 mph for us Brits, which means at full pelt you can cover the length of Bahrain in just under six minutes. Aside from my local pizza delivery man, there are very few vehicles on the road faster that the Challenger SRT8. All this power is linked to a high-performance suspension with rear stabilizer bar, performance-tuned steering, antilock 4-wheel disc performance brakes, and whopping 245/45ZR 20-inch performance tires.


Oh, and it turns heads like you would not believe.

The first car that carried the Challenger name was the two-door limited edition 1959 Dodge Silver Challenger a six-cylinder or V8 model available, unsurprisingly, in silver paint only. However it wasn't until 1970 that the first generation Challenger went into production as a direct rival to the Ford Mustang, the original pony car so called because of the Mustang's galloping pony logo. This, the third, and current generation of Challenger was introduced in 2008 as a rival to the evolved fifth generation Ford Mustang and the reintroduced fifth generation Chevrolet Camaro. However it wasn't until late 2009 that the Challenger first made its way via dealership to this tiny island, mainly to directly compete with the popular Mustang. There were of course Challengers here in Bahrain prior to 2009, but independently imported which made Warranties invalid and spare parts almost impossible to find. Behbehani Motors brought in the first few via their dealership in Sitra, all of which almost immediately sold out, and they have not looked back. Challenger Bahrain is a success.

So when Sam Yacoub the Brand Manager at Behbehani Brothers called and said I could test drive one I was standing salivating in the showroom before he had time to hang up. I'll be honest though, I am a bit biased as I have always loved the Challenger, I love the look of the car; it's classic and timeless and completely captures what this style of raw motoring is all about. It's a muscle car through and through, if you want refinement and luxury and to blend in and to be anonymous then the Challenger is definitely not the car for you, instead go for something... err German, but if you want to stand out and to turn heads and to make a statement and to be different then this is just about as good as it gets. A friend quite rightly I think compared a Challenger driver to a Harley rider – it's a lifestyle choice and so much more that just driving a car.

I had a magnificent few hours with the Challenger. I didn't care that there were not many buttons to press, gadgets and gizmos, who wants them anyway? The seats were big and comfortable which for me was important, and the dash simple and easy to use and with the 5-speed AutoStick meant I could concentrate on driving this beautiful beast. The sound system was brilliant too, with a USB port for you to download all your favourite sounds onto the 30GB hard drive, iPod Control with Audio Jack and CD/DVD and Bluetooth Streaming Audio. I definitely turned a few confused heads when I pulled up outside a café in Adlyia with Beethoven at full blast.


At around 20k BD, or just under 400 BD a month this is undoubtedly one of the fastest, most powerful and fun cars you can buy for the money. All I need now is to find an employer that provides Challengers as a company car.


The Dodge Challenger SRT8 available from Behbehani Brothers, Sitra.






1st Published in Gulf Weekly, 2012

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