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Charger SRT8 Super Bee: Core model packs power, pares price
The Super Bee core model has all the power of the Dodge Charger SRT8 without the pricey option packages.

Remember dog-dish hubcaps? Those “no-frills” nut covers were common on muscle cars of the ‘60s, including the Dodge Super Bee.

And when you saw those on a Super Bee — or a GTX or a Plymouth Road Runner or Dodge Challenger — you knew the driver was serious about speed.

He or she was saving weight for a quicker quarter mile — or the next stoplight drag race.

The 2013 Dodge Charger SRT8 Super Bee is no “stripper,” but it is a core performance model of the brand. Dodge says it is reaching its “core” enthusiast, but really it means less content to save a few dollars. Pricy features were pared back to lighten the MSRP while not softening the punch.

The Super Bee has all the power of the Charger SRT8 — a 470-horsepower, 6.4-liter Hemi and five-speed automatic. But instead of the big, leather sport seats — with those steep side bolsters — the Super Bee has Z-stripe cloth seats with silver striping and stitching. The cloth seats are plenty grippy for performance driving.

Pricing starts at $42,770, which is $2,720 less than the full-dress Charger SRT8. But the test car, with options and $1,000 gas-guzzler tax, came to $44,215.

The Super Bee is no “radio delete” model. Standard equipment includes: Smart key locking and push-button ignition, 4.3-inch touchscreen display with Bluetooth streaming audio, dual-zone air conditioning, SRT leather steering wheel, 20-inch performance tires, six-way power driver’s seat and aluminum lithographic accents

There’s also a hive of Super Bee graphics, including on the black grille, a dash plaque and a color digitized Bee that hovers a bit in the center gauge on start-up.

What it doesn’t have: A rearview camera (always useful) and the big 8.4-inch media screen and Uconnect system, which is totally cool for its ability to read and send texts, a navigation system and more.

It’s also missing the three-mode adaptive damping system, which includes a “Track” setting. But it does have standard Launch Control, to help “maximize straight-line acceleration,” Dodge says.

The Super Bee does get the active exhaust system (2.75-inch pipes) with healthy 4-inch round tips. And there are SRT disc brakes with 14.2-inch vented and slotted front rotors with four-piston black Brembo calipers. And 13.8-inch vented and slotted rear rotors with four-piston black calipers. The full SRT8 has the same brake system but with red Brembo calipers.

Also standard are Bilstein shock absorbers and stabilizer bars front and rear.

Last year’s Super Bee was available only in yellow or black paint. The 2013 comes in Bright White, Pitch Black and TorRed with black interiors.

Snobs will sniff at the five-speed transmission, but the AutoStick rolls through the gears without hesitation. Soon, the eight-speed will be the standard shifter.

The Super Bee can be optioned with steering wheel paddle shifters for $295.

There is power with a conscience, sort of: The big hemi has fuel economy ratings of 14 mpg city, 23 highway and 17 mpg combined. Helping stretch the premium-unleaded is Fuel Saver Technology that switches between eight and four cylinders when possible.

Whatever the mileage, it’s good enough for an enthusiast not to fret over filling up with the good stuff.

Owners of any Chrysler Group SRT vehicle receive one day of professional driving instruction as part of the SRT Track Experience. It is a smart way to ease owners into the power and ability of the car. The sessions are held throughout the year at selected tracks. Info:

The SRT treatment is wicked to the core. The Charger SRT8 suspension was tweaked this year and the ride is more settled now. There’s something so old-school American about how this car is just butt-kicking fun. It is felt with every start of the Hemi, every dive into a corner and every wave of Mopar appreciators.