First introduced under the Dodge brand for the 1992 model year, the Viper was always intended for purists… in other words, those interested primarily in great buckets of torque, track-capable performance; and willing to overlook (or even celebrate) a lack of refinement and creature comforts. The 2013 SRT Viper, it is no longer a Dodge, brings a host of improvements in comfort and refinement along with improved performance and little apparent lack of track-readiness. As one small example, this is the first Viper to even offer cruise control.
2013 SRT Viper First Drive
2013 SRT Viper First Drive
2013 SRT Viper: Under the Hood
It is difficult to keep an unbiased opinion when driving a car like the new SRT Viper for the first time. 640 horsepower and 600 lb-ft of torque from an 8.4 L V10 do tend to warp one’s senses, after all. This in an increase of 40 hp and 40 lb-ft over the previous model. Thanks to new advanced materials, weight is also down about 100 lbs from the previous generation to 3,354 lbs. An optional track pack can reduce this even further to 3,297. This puts the Viper in some pretty heady company. When compared on a pound per horsepower basis the Viper is beaten by only the Bugatti Veyron and the Ferrari F12. It bests the Lamborghini Aventador and the Corvette ZR-1 in the same measure.
Chrysler’s new parent, Fiat, knows a lot about crafting low-production vehicles since they also own Ferrari and Maserati. The interior of the new Viper really shows this newfound corporate expertise. The previous models were more obviously crafted to a cost. This new interior takes advantage of small-batch manufacturing and parts acquisition to great effect. For example, the seats aren’t shared with a Ferrari but they do come from the same manufacturer. The dashboard materials are a true step up and the latest entertainment technology from other Chrysler products have found their way here as well, though customized for Viper duty. Digital TFT instruments are shared with the higher-level Dodge Dart but one would never know… the new digital instruments can have all sorts of customized displays and can show all sorts of information in new ways.
2013 SRT Viper First Drive: Exterior
The exterior of the Viper at first doesn’t appear to stray far from the shape we’ve come to know and appreciate over the years. It’s in the details that one begins to notice the model’s newfound vigor, or, um, venom. Headlights, air intake and exhaust outlets, the clamshell hood, and the long hood shape all work together to create a car with serious presence and a lot of personality. The new headlights with LED markers create a menacing look that follows the snake-theme well. The return to side-exiting exhaust pipes allow a bit of a return to the car’s first generation
The company is also proud to point out that the car was designed in Michigan and will be built in Detroit.
2013 SRT Viper: The Drive
We recently drove the car in Monterey, California, at Mazda Raceway at Laguna Seca. It has been a while since this driver was behind the wheel of a Viper, but he came away quite impressed. The performance certainly was no surprise, but the ease with which it was attainable was. This snake wasn’t looking to bite back. We never came close to exceeding the car’s limits, both because of a lack of skill and because they are so incredibly high. Traction control allowed full throttle out of corners with no fear of a loss of grip. We didn’t try the launch control (now available for the first time on the Viper) but it comes along with four different levels of traction control and the latest performance tech that buyers of super cars in the six-figure range expect.
2013 SRT Viper: Pricing
2013 SRT Viper pricing will start at $99,390 including a destination charge. Relative to the few other vehicles in the same performance neighborhood, that actually looks like a bit of a bargain.
The interior, likewise, won’t be a cause for complaints about value for the dollar. Unlike previous Vipers, this one needs to make no excuses. We drove a base viper with the track pack and were impressed. Buyers looking for more luxury can opt for the higher-spec SRT Viper GTS, starting at $122,390 with destination, it adds more luxurious interior trimmings and a two-mode active suspension.
Our experience with the new SRT Viper was limited to time on the track, but we came away impressed. It offered performance far beyond our ability to use but in more experienced hands could give cars costing much more performance anxiety. The improved interior refinement, comfort, and updated technology should also make the new Viper a more usable street car as well.