Thanks to everyone who replied, this is exactly what I was hoping for (a nice mix of opinions and experiences)
First off if you don't get the ZF8 you'll be missing a big piece of what the hellcat is best at doing...living with a cat means becoming best friends with your favorite gas station and insurance company, the rest is "just push start"
I do have some friends who own powerful cars (a couple of vettes, a camaro here and there and a spot of 'stang) who've said similar things. Folks who otherwise love the stick, but for their purpose bought rocket-mobiles want max performance all the time. So I get the 8spd is an awesome experience (even the reviewers have nothing but great things to say). I think, when it gets to that point, I'll have to test drive both and see where the heart goes. For this kind of car, the pull towards the manual is strong (with the complete understanding that I may sacrifice some of that "max performance") but I'll let the experience do the talking
Get the Hellcat. You bought a R/T and was still itching for a Hellcat. Getting anything in between, you'll still long for the Hellcat and just spend more money trying to correct it. The heart wants what it wants...
I bought a cheap base R/T to see if I could live with a Challenger. It was a lot easier for me to dive into a mid twenties-something thousand car for a year or two (and get out if it didn't work out) then going with a new 392 or HC (or even a used one, which would be twice the investment). So the first phase is more or less going as planned
If I had bought the SXT, I'd have some buyer remorse...
Now that I know I can live with "Challenger" as a car, I feel a lot more comfortable taking that next step.
Like several have stated, don't drive one if you're really not ready to buy one. It will ruin you! Lol
They will cost more to own, so if your budget just isn't there for a HC, no sense walking around with a self induced limp. No sense in that.
When I had my '10 R/TC, I stayed away from driving a 392 car, as I knew that I would want that power.
When my '10 got totalled, I knew that I wanted another Challenger, so it was between a Scat Pack or a HC.
I weighed the purchase cost, and ownership cost of both, along with the fact that I would be retiring in the near future. For me, the most sensible pick was the SP.
Sensible to me meant being able to maintain ownership for the long term. Too many folks jump on a particular car, and then in a year or two say, "I really don't need or can't afford this toy "
I didn't test drive either car, I ordered a SP with the options that I wanted. It was the right move for me. Totally happy with it, and now that I'm retired, I drive It or I don't. It was an affordable toy that I can keep for as long as I want.
Don't know the OP's life situation, but just suggesting to go into this with clear head, and not just an emmotional purchase.
Emotions are good, but can bite you later, or sometimes sooner on a purchase like this.
Best of luck on your choice.
Yes... I know not even to look at anything with a for sale sign, I've blocked it from carmax and autotrader, google has been instructed to redirect any request to 1980 used pintos in rust... lol.
In all seriousness, I don't intend to test drive until I'm actually ready to buy something. That's how I did it with my Challenger last year (had been in the market for over year prior).
- That's some very sound advice, truly. One of the reasons I started this thread was to get the thinking aligned. It was easy to plunk down some cash for a baby R/T, but a used HC (or a new SRT) get's into more serious money that's harder to walk away from easily. I do see this as a toy (in a way) but one that still costs a lot of money
I want to be happy (as happy as is possible) but not to the point of ruination