Modifying, tuning, tweaking, or whatever you want to call it is core to those of us who play with cars, but there are countless pitfalls. Ultimately, the objective is to make your car better, but sometimes that doesn’t always happen. Over the years, we’ve experienced the best and worst from the aftermarket, and knowing which parts are going to work is the real trick.

With the Mopar brand being in-house, modifying your new Dodge Challenger is easy with a range of parts available. This Challenger R/T we recently tested was fitted with a range of parts from Mopar:

– short-shift kit for the six-speed manual
– full suspension kit and a strut tower brace
– great-sounding exhaust system
– cold-air intake

In total, it’s about $4,300 worth of parts (check with your dealer for labour costs), but the question, however, is whether these parts improve the Challenger. We love great sounding cars and thankfully the Mopar cat-back exhaust is a no brainer. It’s loud and authoritative, perfectly aligned with the Challenger’s vibe.

The cold-air intake doesn’t noticeably improve sound on the intake side, but I suppose hearing a stock intake back to back with this one would indicate a subtle difference. With quick stabs of the throttle, it was definitely audible, but not quite what I’d call an enhancement, but it does look cool under the hood. Knowing the way modern ECUs are locked down, there may not be a net improvement in power output.

Mopar’s short shift kit is an enhancement, too, and while it doesn’t improve outright performance, shifting is much more enjoyable. The $263 fuel filler cap that’s fitted to this car is perhaps not an aesthetic improvement, save for the most diehard Mopar enthusiasts.

Suspension tuning, on the other hand, is a real art and science, especially damping. Shock tuning for a specific application is a long, difficult task that can only be properly engineered by a specialist. For suspension tuning components to be offered by an OEM is a serious thing and, thankfully, Dodge has some very smart dynamics engineers involved with Challenger.

 

Mopar_Challenger_post_1

This Challenger has the full Mopar suspension kit – shocks, springs, bushings, and shock mounts – and on the outside, the lower ride height is obvious and Challenger simply looks great. As the kids say, it’s got great stance, but does it handle better?

Better is a relative term, but this tuned Challenger drives exceptionally well, with great body and wheel control, and the shocks’ damping rates are a fantastic match for the spring rates of the shorter springs. I can’t comment on the bushings and strut tower brace specifically, but even for a big brute of a muscle car, the Challenger turns in with relative precision and is thoroughly enjoyable to steer.

The best thing is that none of these parts void your new car warranty. On the other hand, Mopar offers a 24-month warranty for the cold air intake, but the suspension kit, shifter, and exhaust are sold without a warranty, which is standard operating procedure for many aftermarket parts.

Overall, the selection of Mopar parts added to this Challenger enhance the car. Everything is engineered to work and fit properly. This Challenger looks fantastic and sounds even better than it looks. What’s better is that you tune your Mopar machine to suit your preferences. For me, I’d go for the suspension, exhaust, and shifter, which definitely makes the Challenger greater than the sum of its parts.

2016 Dodge Challenger R/T (tuned with Mopar components)
Base Price: $39,895
As Tested: $48,000 (plus labour for Mopar parts installation, plus $1,795 destination charge)
Notable Options: 6-speed TREMEC manual transmission, $1,000; 20-inch forged wheels, $900; Uconnect infotainment, $700; Mopar suspension kit, $861; Mopar strut tower brace, $408; Mopar cold air intake, $615; Mopar gas cap, $263; Mopar short throw shifter, $193; Mopar cat-back exhaust, $2,020
Drivetrain: 5.7-litre V8, 375 hp, 410 lb-ft, 6-speed manual transmission, rear wheel drive
Performance: Quick enough to entertain; 13.1 litres per 100 km combined officially, but we averaged over 20.
VVUZZ Recommended: A great way to improve the iconic Challenger AND retain your warranty.

 

 

Images courtesy of the author.

Published on Oct 27, 2016