The Week I Was Irrelevant.
Not that I'm particularly vain, but it was admittedly different, around the fifth time it happened, when I really noticed: I was pretty much invisible, even with newly coiffed hair and makeup.
But that's what the 2012 Dodge Charger SRT8 will do to you.
Sample scenario, chilling in the parking lot scarfing my carryout behind the wheel:
Guy 1, semi circling Charger: "Damn, this my ride!"
Guy 2, standing passenger side: "Uh-huh, bad ain't it?"
Guy 1: "The wife won't let me have one. But once she gets what she wants, I'm gettin' mine."
Actual exchange. I nearly apologized for being there.
But seriously, I understood. I, too, was swept up by this beast, all a-growl with its snarly grille, big sticky wheels and way-aggressive stance. Even the girliest girl, I bet, could concede appreciation.
Now, some mean-looking rides are disappointing poseurs, all swag but no fight. Reminds me of that old blues tune: "You ain't big, you just tall, that's all." Not applicable here though. Completely overhauled in 2011, the Charger for this year added the ultra-brawny SRT8, featuring a more substantial and formidable 6.4-liter HEMI V8, which makes 470 horses and 470 pound-feet of torque. By comparison, the previous powerplant did 425 and 420, respectively.
And what a difference a few digits make. Woot! Such a sweet ol' off-the-mark blast. Belying its heft -- it weighs in at around two tons -- the rear-wheel-drive SRT8 does an Olympics-grade straight line, serenaded by exhaust notes befitting such surge.
Running with the likes of the Ford Taurus SHO and the Cadillac CTS-V, the SRT8 features adaptive dampers with auto and sport modes and an active exhaust system -- both exclusive to this ride. The dampers make for a more varied driving experience, while the exhaust helps save gas. I do wish there were another, more comfortable mode though. After a while, the ride can be a tad stiff, particularly on longish excursions.
But speaking of petrol, when the dash eco lite is on the engine is down to a fuel-sipping four cylinders. Pretty cool stuff, especially with 14 city, 23 highway.
The five-speed automatic transmission can seem somewhat balky and a bit unsure at times, but that's pretty high-level nitpicking. While we're at it, steering seemed a little light. When bouncing along at relatively high speeds on uneven terrain, control seemed an issue, although it likely wasn't. In any case, those big, nicely calibrated disc brakes were comforting compensation. Standard are Electronic Stability Control and all-speed traction control, plus hill start assist.
The interior reminds that this here's a performance ride, what with its sport-leather bucket seats that, again, can be tough to sit in for protracted trips (yes, the seats heat and vent). But it's very attractive and rife with quality touches.
Fifteen-large more than the V6 Charger, the SRT8 comes with an intuitive-use navi system plus slammin' sounds with 900-watt amp. In addition, there's rear-park assist and a rear back up camera, which use an exceptionally lucid LCD screen. Oh, let's not forget the nifty heated and cooled front cupholders.
Options in my loaner included blind spot detection, rain-sensitive wipers, smartbeam headlamps, approach lamps and power sunroof.
All this car for a cool $50,260. Considering how much I'd save on hair and lipstick, I'd say the price is right.