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The good, bad and the downright ugly

The Dodge Challenger R/T is seen at a preview on March 19, 2008 at the New York International Auto Show.

Surrounded by hybrid and fuel cell cars of every type and size the stars of the annual Big Apple motorfest remain the muscle cars.

Dodge was right at the top of the power band with its revival of the classic Challenger Coupe, a modern rendition of one of the 1960s leading muscle cars.

“Our all-new 2009 Dodge Challenger is a modern-day muscle machine representing the best from the past and present,” said Mike Accavitti, Dodge Brand and SRT Global Marketing director.

“Thirty-five years after the debut of the original, we are bringing Dodge Challenger back — and loading it with the essential hardware, styling and technology that is desired by today's buyer.”

The Challenger is the first coupe to be produced off Chrysler's 300C and Charger rear-wheel drive platforms — themselves donated by Mercedes-Benz from the previous generation E-Class sedan.

While Chrysler Australia has shown an interest in getting the Dodge powerpacks, there is no indication which, if any, of the three models to go on sale in North America.

At the top of the Challenger family tree will be the SRT8, with an exclusive 317kW 6.1-litre Hemi V8 mated either to a six-speed manual transmission or a five-speed automatic.

With 569Nm of torque, the SRT8 will manage 0-100km/h in less than five seconds.

Mid-range shoppers can still enjoy the Hemi V8 experience with the 5.7-litre in the R/T producing 276kW and 540Nm coupled to the five-speed auto and 280kW and 548Nm with the new six-speed manual — good enough to launch the car to the 100km/h mark in under six seconds.

If it's looks rather than outright muscle you seek, then the 3.5-litre V6 (186kW and 339Nm) in the SE model could be the answer.

Throughout the development of the Challenger the design team stayed true to the concept revealed at the 2006 North American International Auto Show in Detroit, refining and modernising elements from the original Challenger.

“Our designers wanted to capture the mind's-eye view of what people today remember about the Dodge Challenger from 35 years ago,” said Trevor Creed, senior vice-president design. “Their challenge was to excite today's customer by capturing the emotion of the original Challenger, while offering today's comfort and performance.”

On the exterior, the long, raised performance hood with scoops and recessed grille with round dual headlamps are reminiscent of the original Dodge Challenger.

The bold A-line, or character line, that runs from stem to stern gives the all-new 2009 Dodge Challenger an instantly recognisable muscle-car profile. Retro dual rectangular exhaust outlets complete the look from the rear.

Inside the car the trapezoidal theme of the door-panel cove and gauge cluster, dark headliner and slanted shifter console are inspired by the original Challenger.

The modern car offers class-leading rear seat space for a two-door coupe.

Meanwhile, Holden did its part to keep General Motors revved up, with a pair of 6.0-litre Commodores transformed into a couple of go fast Pontiacs.

A restyled SS Ute will become Pontiac's new segment-busting sport truck while an even warmer version of the Commodore SS will be launched as the performance star in the G8 range.

Less muscle car than finely toned athlete, Hyundai's Genesis Coupe completed its journey from concept to production car.

The purpose-built rear-wheel drive sport coupe — featuring two performance-focused engines — a 158kW 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder and an all-aluminium, 228kW DOHC 3.8-litre V6 engine — is a replacement for the rather aged Tiburon Coupe.

The Genesis Coupe is Hyundai's most dynamic performance car ever.

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