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New muscle: the 2024 Dodge Charger Daytona is the first electric muscle car

Updated: Jul 6

2024 Dodge Charger Daytona

The 2024 Dodge Charger saloon and the Daytona coupé bring electric power to the tried and tested muscle car formula. Ken Pearson tells you everything you need to know.

Shortly after fawning over the forbidden fruit that is the Lucid Air at the Geneva Motor Show, Dodge have unveiled some even more enticing new metal that is highly unlikely to come to our shores. It’s been no secret that the Dodge Challenger and Charger would be losing their V8 hearts as the previous generation bowed out - the seemingly endless special editions and send off models like the 840 bhp drag strip-optimised Demon made that very clear and ensured that the engine synonymous with the American muscle car would not be quietly exiting the stage.

So if I told you that the replacements can be driven silently and the only time that fossils are burned to power them is at the other end of the power grid when they’re plugged in to charge, you may think that the recipe for a muscle car has been totally thrown away…except it hasn’t, at least I don’t think so but we’ll come back to that later.

2024 Dodge Charger Daytona

2024 Dodge Charger Daytona - Power & Performance

The Charger twins make use of parent company Stellantis’s new STLA platform which is designed for larger cars and will soon form the basis of new models from other group brands like Alfa Romeo. The platform is designed to take both electric and petrol power but for the first year of production the Daytona coupé will be electric only.

The 93.9 kWh capacity battery feeds two electric motors for all-wheel drive, can rapid charge from 20-80% in 28 minutes at up to 183 kW DC and return between 260 and 317 miles of driving range on a full charge. These stats are useful, but the more interesting ones are all about the performance.

Two performance levels are available at launch with the standard R/T version developing 496 bhp and the Scat Pack churning out 670 hp. The R/T will go from 0-60 mph in 4.7 seconds and complete a quarter mile run in 13.1 seconds and reach a top speed of 137 mph.

2024 Dodge Charger Daytona

2024 Dodge Charger Daytona

The more powerful Scat Pack takes just 3.3 seconds to reach 60 mph and 11.5 seconds to pass the timing board at the end of the drag strip. The quicker version is slightly slower though, with its top speed being 134 mph. However, it will not take long to get there and it’s more than quick enough when you’re doing it! My experience with high-performance EVs tells me that anything less than 4 seconds to 60 when peak torque comes at 1 rpm from the powertrain is nothing short of ferocious and can cause unscheduled internal organ rearrangement to occur.

Performance and enjoying what the new powertrain can do has clearly been at the top of the agenda for the Dodge team as the Daytona brings the Direct Connection Stage options - essentially an overboost feature - to the model as standard for 2024. Stage 1 boosts output by 40 bhp and is standard on the R/T whilst the Stage 2 adds 80 additional horses as standard with the Scat Pack. This “Power Shot” overboost feature can be activated for up to 15 seconds and requires a 30 second delay between activations. Unlike some electric max power boost modes, the Daytona can use this whether the battery is reading 100% or 1% state of charge.

2024 Dodge Charger Daytona

2024 Dodge Charger Daytona - Chassis and Handling

Getting down the road that quickly requires a good amount of grip so the Daytona bucks the EV trend of low rolling resistance tyres and slightly narrower widths in favour of 275 section tyres as standard. The optional Track Pack adds Goodyear Eagle F1 Supercar tyres which measure in at 305 mm wide at the front and 325 mm at the rear. This includes 20” wheels which, again, saps efficiency and outright range but I don’t think that was ever the key priority for any muscle car.

Straight line performance and heavy-hitting acceleration is important but Dodge have also worked to make the new Daytona take the corners well too. The multi-link front suspension features forged aluminium components and the rear gets an independent suspension setup which is “designed with an eye toward performance” which sounds to me as though a playful nature has been engineered in.

The Scat Pack Daytona can be optioned with dual-valve semi-active suspension with three times more body accelerometers, four times more wheel hub accelerometers and four times more ride height sensors than the Charger had, which can allow for better damping in normal driving but more customisation of the setup and response depending on the driving mode.

2024 Dodge Charger Daytona

2024 Dodge Charger Daytona

Speaking of which, the Daytona has up to five driving modes with Auto, Eco, Wet/Snow, Sport and Track and Drag all able to modify how the powertrain responds to the driver’s inputs. In normal driving, the front motor can switch off to provide greater efficiency and range but with the Scat Pack-exclusive Donut Mode activated, traction control is deactivated too in order to shred tyres and leave an unmistakable mark on the tarmac below.

The Drift Mode softens the front dampers and firms up the rears to let oversteer come into play whilst the traction control has been specifically programmed not to throw up fault codes or spoil the fun when it detects the wheels spinning at different speeds. There’s even a dedicated Race Prep setting which can quickly preheat the battery for a drag strip run, or cool it before a circuit session to allow for more time on track before the battery gets too hot.

2024 Dodge Charger Daytona

2024 Dodge Charger Daytona - Soundtrack Solutions

By all accounts, it seems that the new breed of muscle car will still offer the performance of its predecessors, just in a different way. Whilst the sound of two cylinder banks will be gone and the car can be driven silently, it doesn’t always have to be. In development is what Dodge are calling the Fratzonic Exhaust which features external speakers that sit within a chamber that is designed to amplify and shape the noise coming from them, much like the exhaust on any performance car does.

There has been a lot of debate about whether EVs should have sound generators or not (although they are mandatory at low speeds in the UK and have been for a few years now) and reaction to the first sound profile presented by the Charger Daytona SRT EV Concept was mixed, so Dodge have gone back to the mixing desk and come up with around 100 sounds so far. Whilst they are undecided on the exact pitch and notes for the Daytona to make, they have stated that it will be as loud as a Challenger Hellcat.

I have sampled a few EV soundtracks from smart, BMW and Mercedes-AMG so far and I’m of the opinion that a sound generator is very useful when pressing on in an EV; when I was first getting to grips with hustling electric cars along B-roads, the audible indicator of my speed from a high-revving V6 that I was used to was gone so I would often arrive at corners 10 mph quicker than I wanted to be. Driving the AMG EQE 53 at length with the sound generator switched on made it a lot easier to quantify my speed when approaching corners, and the change in pitch, tone and volume when accelerating, coasting or braking is only helpful in my mind.

2024 Dodge Charger Daytona

2024 Dodge Charger Daytona - Styling & Interior

Whilst this new model may not sound like a traditional muscle car, there is no doubt whatsoever that it looks like one. I don’t think anyone can be in any doubt of the intentions of this car at first glance; the minimalist front end that harks back to the original model from 1966 features what appears to be a full-width upper grille which contains the headlights at the outer edges, but this is in fact an air channel to pass air over the bonnet and towards one of the most impressive power domes that I’ve seen on a car in recent years. The dropping doors that covered the bulbs on the original sadly do not feature, but unusually for a modern car the lights themselves are not the defining characteristic of the front end styling.

The design is subtly detailed to my eyes with sharp creases above the front wheel arches but a very clean side profile. The roofline does the talking with its thick and angled C-pillar meeting the shoulder that rises and flares out over the rear wheels before coming to the short boot lid, complete with a NASCAR-style ducktail spoiler and full-width double-rectangular tail lights. It looks quite elegant in silver and rather menacing when painted black. In short, it tells you that it is powerful before telling you anything else about itself.

2024 Dodge Charger Daytona

If the exterior is minimalist retro, the interior is minimalist modern but again with a clear focus on the driver; naturally, the displays are digital with the instrument cluster coming in 10.25” or 16” sizes, and the central infotainment display is 12.3” is angled towards the driver to make it easy to interact with the display whether stationary or on the move. The flat top and flat bottom steering wheel houses infotainment and vehicle controls, the Power Shot button and paddles for adjusting the energy recovery settings - something that I also find can provide a good level of driver involvement as well as being useful for rapidly changing how the regenerative braking functions.

The cabin gets a wraparound design with trim elements that begin on the door cards rising up and heading to the other side of the cabin via the dashboard. My favourite interior detail has to be the DAYTONA badge that sits on the trim at the base of the windscreen, separated by a gap to the rest of the dashboard.

Another highlight is the pistol-grip gear shifter with its angled design which sits just ahead of the car’s start button and the electronic handbrake. All Daytona's are four seaters with a folding rear bench offering up to 1,000 litres of luggage space (with the rear seats flat) and an additional 42 litre front storage area which will be useful for stowing charging cables.

2024 Dodge Charger Daytona

2024 Dodge Charger Daytona

2024 Dodge Charger Daytona - Petrol Variant Coming, But No V8

Even though the car is only a few days old, Dodge has already addressed the obvious question of “When is the range-topper coming?” And the answer is quite soon. In the works is a Daytona Banshee which will switch the 400 volt electrical architecture for an 800 volt system and bring new motors with a two-speed transmission. It is estimated to produce over 800 bhp and will certainly be among the quickest accelerating muscle cars on sale when it arrives sometime in 2025.

The new Dodge Charger Daytona has the looks and the stats of a true muscle car, but if the powertrain doesn’t quite add up for you then the inherent flexibility of the new STLA platform has you covered. Coming next year are a pair of biturbo straight-six engined models called the SIXPACK. I’m not making that up - try and find me a better name for a car variant, I dare you! Piston powered Daytona's will be available with a 420 or 550 bhp output and will drive all four wheels via an 8-speed automatic transmission.

Dodge have also confirmed that there will be no manual option for the new generation Daytona. However, there is also the option of two more doors in the form of the Charger saloon. The two models are almost identically styled with the only major difference being the number of doors - this seems to have been a deliberate decision by Dodge to make the two models look so similar so that the same style can be obtained regardless of how much practicality is required.

2024 Dodge Charger Daytona

It could be argued that the removal of the V8 engine and its replacement with a 6-cylinder engine which plays second fiddle to the electric performance options is the antithesis of what the muscle car should be. However, at their very core, muscle cars are about strong looks and even stronger performance.

I’m sure that some argued against the introduction of superchargers and smaller-engined variants with four or six-cylinder powertrains in the past, but as far as straight-line acceleration is concerned, there are not many road-legal cars that can get off the line and down the quarter mile strip as quickly as something with electric power. Does it throw away the muscle car rulebook? In terms of powertrains, it certainly does but the styling leaves no doubt that this is designed to be a muscle car first and foremost.

The Dodge Charger Daytona begins production in mid-2024, but as I mentioned at the beginning of this article, it is another enticing piece of forbidden fruit as there are no plans for it to officially come to the UK. In fact, this year marks the 14th anniversary of the brand leaving this market! That said, I’m sure that lots of other manufacturers will be watching the Daytona closely and using it as a yardstick to see how well retro-styled performance EVs go down, apart from Ford who recently stated that they will always be building V8-powered Mustangs.

The formula is changing, but with the new Dodge Charger Daytona, it looks like the muscle car of the future will still be able to deliver the performance thrills that the nameplate and category has always been renowned for.

2024 Dodge Charger Daytona


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