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A Comparison that doesn't make sense: Dodge Challenger R/T vs FR-S

I am debating a car purchase, and have narrowed it down (I think) to:

  1. Camaro
  2. Challenger
  3. Toybaru (Probably the FR-S)
  4. WRX

In a desperate attempt to make a choice or at least feel at rest I tried to test drive all four today:

There were not any Camaros to drive, the one yellow 2 SS had keys MIA.

The WRX were out of stock (although I talked them into a rain check for a test drive, supposedly they don't let people test drive new 2015 WRX except in special circumstance...?)


I did drive a 2015 Challenger RT and a 2015 FR-s

First I drove the FR-s. It has been on the list for a long time:

Impressions: It is tiny. The seating position is pretty much fixed and the back seat is a joke at best. It is low to the ground and feels even lower. Oddly, my Civic Si is actually lower on it's 18" wheels and lowered springs than the "rare edition" I looked at, but the FR-s felt like sitting on a picnic blanket, if you had to scoot over to a picnic blanket.


Once I was in the FR-s I was under whelmed for a minute. The wheel felt good, the seats good, the ignition was just like starting any vehicle. I was shown how to pull the little trinket on the shifter to reach reverse (I think all 6 speeds should work like this!) and we were off as I was told how to get to the "little private track".

On the way there I adjust to the very sharp manual transmission and was enjoying the ride. Softer than my Si, but better composed. The exhaust was good enough at this point. Once we hit the track though, holy crap! I hit the Ss and the wide curves and held a good line and the car just begged to go faster, doing 80 around sharp curves it just felt right.

When it was all over, it took every ounce of will power not to yell "take my money!" but I moved on. After of course the salesman thanked me for giving him a fun test drive.

The Challenger (SRT I was told, but I think it was an R/T) was a very different experience. First the things that I was expecting: A push start button that would change my life and a crummy interior.


The push start button was... eh, how do I saw: "A scam". I felt disoriented and out of step with this car. In fact, if it reminded me of any car I have owned it would be my 79 Ford Granada, but bigger.

Illustration for article titled A Comparison that doesnt make sense: Dodge Challenger R/T vs FR-S

The parking brake was under the steering wheel, I sat beneath the hood and gauging my position on quick turns felt a bit like a gamble. I loved the drive though, in a weird way. When you shift at the right RPM the exhaust gurgles something fierce, but the rev limiter seems to come far too soon. Where this car excelled was the freeway. I kept glancing down and realizing I was doing 80, 80 felt like 50 in this thing and 50 felt like 40. If I wanted a freeway bruiser, this is it. But I went back to "the track" and the thing just wasn't at home. The stretches where the FR-s felt at home doing 80 felt sketchy at 40 in this. The car just had far to much roll and tossing the wheel back and forth on a straight away reminded me a little too much of that Granada. Even casual cruising there were a couple of times where the feedback from the wheel confused my hands.

As far as materials on the Challenger: No problems for me. Maybe 2015 fixed the issues, or maybe this just really is something I don't care about. Sure the wheel was too large, and the gauges weren't sexy but it was exactly what I would want from a muscle car, functional and it felt well constructed even if the materials weren't great.


So the winner? Considering price and fun the FR-s won by a mile. And to me, even if the FR-s and the Challenger SRT cost exactly the same I would choose the FR-s every time. It was just unholy fun, from the smooth acceleration and great exhaust note at WOT. Will it beat the SRT on a drag strip, not a chance in hell. But the pistol grip shifter on the 6 speed in the Challenger won't ever put the same grin on my face that the FR-s did.

So, what did I miss Oppo?

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