The computers in all modern automobiles monitor our vehicles' inner workings, and now Dodge is putting its microprocessors to work for the benefit of muscle-car enthusiasts. The 2013 Challenger SRT's in-car apps, called Performance Pages, can look deep into the car's driving data and pull out information about 0-60 acceleration, braking distances, G-force loading, and more.
The apps yield fascinating data, so we recently used the Challenger SRT to teach some kids at a local high school a thing or two about physics. See? Maybe doing burnouts and driving donuts can have practical applications after all.
The Performance Pages apps are available through the instrument cluster. Other performance cars that offer track apps include the Ford Mustang, whose selection resembles the Challenger's but adds a stoplight countdown for a 0-60 test. The BMW M Laptimer is a smartphone app that syncs with the car, and can show your exact speed around corners, where you pushed the throttle and backed off, how many G-Forces you pulled, and even lap times.
Cars' internal computers have gathered the data used by these apps for many years, and mechanics and racers have tapped into this information for just about as long. But Dodge's SRT Performance Pages are an example of a more mainstream use of the data, and we expect to see more apps, revealing more secrets, in the very near future.
Here's how to squeal tires in the name of science (with permission from the school where we did our testing, of course): Take a parking lot that runs about a football field in length and ends in a grassy knoll (not that grassy knoll). Spread liberally with orange traffic cones. Arrange students carefully behind the growling car and its 6.4-liter, V-8 engine. Then fire up the apps and drive.
Going 0-60 for educational purposes
To use the Performance Pages, I pressed the menu button on the steering wheel, then the up arrow to find the Performance Features section. I pressed up to see the first 0-60 test. Accessing these tools could not be any easier--you can punch them up quickly and start racing. (On the Charger and the Chrysler 300, the exact same tools are available in the touchscreen. They look better, but they're easier to use on the cluster.)
I started with a 0-60 acceleration test. My friends placed cones down a corridor in the lot.
The 0-60 test uses the same sensors that look for tire spin and control the antilock braking system, so it knows when you are at zero. To start the test, I came to a complete stop in front of the first cone. The cluster said "Ready," and I shifted into first and took off. The tire sensors measure tire speed and distance until you hit 60 mph.
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