2013 SRT Viper
The Viper has always been a legendary machine. The problem was, it was legendary for being overly dangerous and scary to drive. Never was there a problem with the Viper's brutish looks, but with its tacky interior and lack of comfort, the car was always deemed unlivable. That is, until now.
The birth of the Viper stems back to the Detroit Auto Show in 1989 where it appeared as a concept. Following the fantastic response received from the public, the Dodge division of Chrysler pushed to make the Viper a reality. Team Viper, a group of 85 engineers, began development that same year. In May 1990, Chrysler chairman Lee Lacocca granted the team official approval to create the vehicle and in January 1992 the first retail shipments began. The Viper was born.
2013 is the fifth generation of the Viper. The original iterations proved incredibly difficult to drive, particularly on high-speed bends where the car produced lift making the back of the car dangerously unstable.
By the fourth generation (2010 Viper) the issue had been vastly improved. But without traction control, stability control and practically any other creature comfort you can imagine, it still remained a machine for the highly skilled, serious enthusiast.
SRT assured things would be different for 2013. A tamer, more livable Viper was promised with an interior that wouldn't fill you with shame. And while all that sounds perfect, concerns bubbled about whether the Viper would lose the magic that made it so mythical in the first place.
Can you really achieve a compromise without compromising?
Yes you can. The new Viper is wild, raw and unleashed, just like the old Viper, but rather than frightening you to death, it now evokes pure unrivaled adrenaline.
The 2013 Viper is completely redesigned with a more modern, yet ruthless exterior. The 8.4-liter V10 engine produces more power. The chassis is lighter, stiffer and an abundance of tweaks designed to stabilize its notoriously unsanitary handling have been implemented. It's now better balanced. The interior is in a new hemisphere.
With the 2013 redesign, the Viper has finally become a car you could imagine driving on a daily basis.
The 2013 SRT Viper arrives in two trim levels: SRT and GTS. Both come with same 8.4-liter V10 engine, producing 640-horsepower and 600 pound-feet of torque (both up 40 from the last generation Viper). Both models come standard with the one-day SRT Track Experience.
Viper SRT ($97,395) is well equipped with the latest Uconnect system, navigation with 8.4-inch screen, nine-speaker audio system, Brembo four-piston brakes, Sabelt leather seating and (for the first time on a Viper) electronic stability control.
Viper GTS ($120,395) boasts additional interior leather, a unique front hood with fewer air scoops and split six-spoke forged aluminum Venom wheels, dual-mode Bilstein DampTronic Select shock, four-mode electronic stability control, 6-way power electric seats, 12-speaker audio system and the Grand Touring Package, which includes rear backup camera, floor mats, upgraded Uconnect and Sirius XM. (All prices are MSRP excluding $1,995 destination charge.)
Options include six exterior color choices on the SRT with the GTS model receiving an expanded color palette containing the seven-step Stryker Red Tri-Coast Pearl finish ($14,600) and premium Nappa leather and Alcantara ($3,000). Two body stripe configurations are offered: SRT features tapered stripes starting at the hood and finishing at the rear hatch ($4,500); GTS offers wide stripes running the entire length from front to rear fascia ($5,000). A 18-speaker Harman Kardon premium audio system is available for SRT ($2,995) and GTS ($1,000).
Option packages include Interior Carbon Fiber Accents Group ($3,400), Exterior Carbon Fiber Package ($5,100), Advanced Aerodynamic Package ($4,800) with carbon front splitter/rear spoiler, SRT Grand Touring Package ($2,500), GTS Laguna Interior Package with premium leather upgrades, door panels, instrument panel, Alcantara headliner ($7,500), and SRT Track Package ($3,500) with StopTech vented rotors, lightweight track wheel, Pirelli P Zero Corse tires. A Launch Edition Package ($15,500) is available for the first 150 GTS models that incorporates classic Blue Viper coloring with white stripes, Rattler wheels, StopTech rotors, Stryker hood badge, Mopar dust covers, Laguna Package, 18-speaker Harman Kardon audio system and Stryker logo on the steering wheel.
Safety features include advanced multi-stage front air bags with Occupant Clarification System, ABS, child seat anchoring with passenger airbag switch, electronic stability control, traction control, individual tire-pressure monitoring, six point seat belt restraint system provisions and security alarms.
The Viper has always been the plasticized pin-up Playboy model of vehicles. It is striking and attention grabbing, making no effort to conform to a more traditionally elegant demeanor. The new model is no exception. And that's a good thing. It's freshened, modernized and yet unmistakably Viper.
The lower front grille is redesigned as an evolution of the traditional Viper low profile cooling configuration and carries a refined V-shape structure. LED running lights and turn signals mesh with the bi-xenon projector headlamps.
The Viper maintains the preposterously long hood, now carbon-fiber. The SRT model has six air scoops, three on each side of the hood, plus the scoop directly on the nose. The GTS has just two large scoops either side of the nose scoop. The jury is out as to which one looks better, but for my money, the GTS looks a touch cleaner and meaner.
The double bubble roof configuration returns but is optimized to allow more headroom for helmeted drivers. It is also now made of carbon fiber to aid in shedding weight. The doors are super-formed aluminum to produce additional weight savings and the door handles are integrated to help achieve a 0.369 drag coefficient level.
The cabin appears extremely rearward as it always has with a Viper and the side-exhaust system remains. The standard five-spoke wheels on the SRT and six-spoke on the GTS look plain, but the optional lightweight wheels in the Track Package appear far more menacing. A cap-less fuel filler is on every Viper.
The deck lid is now carbon fiber and the taillights contain 50 LEDs that integrate with the turn signal. The horizontal lamps appear dark until the LED elements fire. The new dual-element rear diffuser was a design that took weeks to formulate in the wind tunnel to ensure maximum downforce was produced. The rear spoiler is an integrated lip at the back of the deck lid, again, helping to create downforce and keep the rear of the car planted to the asphalt.
The $14,600 Stryker Red paint finish sounds incredibly expensive, and it is, but it is also stunning. It is a seven-step paint job that glistens like a concept car from an auto show. In fact, it is the very paint job that the new Viper debuted with at the New York Auto Show and response was so great SRT decided to offer it as an option. Apparently early orders have already shown a strong take rate.
When stepping into the new Viper you would be forgiven for momentarily believing you have accidentally hopped into the neighbor's BMW, instead. The old Viper's interior seemed like an afterthought. As if time had run out and an it'll do approach was taken. SRT vowed to change this for 2013.
Almost every nook and cranny is lined with leather. The optional Laguna Package adds more of it and utilizes a far softer, more expensive material. Standard high-performance racing seats from Sabelt provide a lot of support, but I did feel it rubbed slightly under my left arm. Still, the snugness was appreciated, especially when taking the Viper to the racetrack.
Seating positions are 20mm lower to allow for more headroom and seat travel is extended by 90mm. Seat height can also be adjusted by 40mm (manually on the SRT, electrically on the GTS). More space has been added by extending the floor pan and bulkhead, allowing for 90mm more legroom.
The instrument cluster is odd, and looks a little cheap. It mixes a computerized rpm display with an analog speedometer. The digital part looks tacky and it is confusing why you would blend both a digital and analog cluster, rather than pick a theme and stick with it throughout.
The non-telescopic steering wheel (it does have tilt) is the same size as the old Viper but feels more sturdy and pleasing to touch. Pedals adjust electronically fore and aft to make up for the steering wheels lack of movement. A dead pedal is also now offered so you have a place to rest your left leg when not in use. The car is fired by a push button and the traditional 6-speed manual shifter sits in a comfortable, easily accessible location.
The 8.4-inch Uconnect screen comes standard on all models and is nicely intuitive and offers an abundance of features. Climate is adjusted by the touchscreen and voice activation, text message reading, Bing and other goodies are available at your fingertips. Plus there are pages of performance content such as quarter mile and 0-60 times, G-loads, steering angle and about every other parameter you could ever need.
Hidden in various cubbyholes are maps of the legendary Nordschleife racetrack and Laguna Seca, both crucial development venues for the Viper over the years. It's another level of detail unheard of with a Viper and nicely adds to the experience. Trunk space is also decent, making the car capable of running most daily errands.
Despite a vastly improved interior it is still, unsurprisingly, a little way off the German manufacturers. Still, for what it is intended to be, it's comfortable, functional and plenty sufficient. It is enough to rid the Viper of its ghastly stereotyped interior of old.
Perhaps the most important factor of the new Viper is how it drives. After all, that is the area in which garnered the most substantial criticism in the past. The problem was the 2010 Viper (albeit better) still required the driver to possess Michael Schumacher-like skills. No stability or traction control left the immense power and tricky handling entirely in the driver's hands.
And with more power on tap from the 8.4-liter V10 (640-hp, a 40hp gain over 2010), and the most amount of torque produced by any naturally aspirated sports-car engine in the world (600 lb-ft), it becomes more imperative than ever to tame the handling.
But at the same time, it can't be too tame. It is a Viper, after all.
In an attempt to reach these better numbers, SRT has included an ultra-high flow, lightweight intake manifold, thicker, stronger forged pistons, sodium-filled exhaust valves, new catalysts to ease backpressure and an aluminum flywheel that reduces reciprocated loses. Plus, the engine now weighs around 25 pounds less than the 2010 motor.
Naturally it is fast like a Viper, too. 0-60 mph occurs in the low three-second range. Top speed is an impressive 206 mph and with all this muscle being mated to a Tremec TR6060 6-speed manual gearbox it keeps your pupils wide and grasp tight right the way to its 6200-rpm redline.
Talking of the gearbox, the ratios are shorter than the Viper's old transmission (3.55 from 3.07) and the throw is tighter, too. It really is a precise, crisp instrument, exactly as it should be.
As with most new vehicles, weight saving was a key topic. In all, the new Viper weighs around 100 pounds less than the old car (3,297 pounds for the SRT with Track Package). The carbon fiber hood, roof and deck lid, mixed with the aluminum doors make the body 32-percent lighter. Plus, torsional rigidity has been improved by a massive 50 percent, in part due to the addition of a new aluminum X-brace under the hood.
To combat the dangerous Viper handling traits, the rear suspension has been re-engineered with the toe link moved forward of the axle for better toe control and dynamic stability. The improved stiffness of the chassis allowed engineers to run softer sway bars to increase rear grip, too.
The front track is now wider (62.9 versus 61.7) and with massive 10.5-inch wide front tires (13-inch rears), the front grip has also been improved.
The GTS comes with two-mode Bilstein shocks, which have a Track and a Street setting. The difference is slight, but on a highway it is just enough to provide a slightly suppler ride, a nice feature to have. The SRT model has single-mode Bilsteins with the only setting being Track.
An important feature for the 2013 Viper is the addition of electronic stability control and traction control. The SRT model gives you the option of the system being fully On or fully Off. In the GTS you get a four-mode system that varies from On to Off with two settings in between, Sport and Track, to allow the driver to select the desired amount of intervention based on driving ability. Even with the system fully on it only interferes when absolutely necessary. This in itself provides the desired safety net many customers pleaded for.
Along with the safety net, the changes the SRT engineers made to the 2013 car produce the exact results that were originally promised. The rear of the car has more grip, delivering the driver far more confidence than ever before. They haven't overdone it, however, as understeer is still very minimal, only detectable in the slowest of bends. The total grip level is huge and this makes the new Viper one of the fastest on-track production cars available. It really is that good.
The car is still tail happy on power down but it always feels controllable. You feel like you can push harder and harder and the machine always responds. It never tries to kill you, but fortunately, this snake can still bite.
You can never let your guard down with the 2013 Viper, even when cruising on the street. The engine, while sounding a little underwhelming at initial fire up, still sounds better than the outgoing Viper. Its best auditory quality is its satisfying gurgle when you release the gas pedal. It sounds like a regurgitating anaconda.
The SRT model is 50 pounds less than the GTS and on the track the difference is barely noticeable. For hardcore track-goers it is probably the way to go, but for those who can afford the price difference and want the extra comfort, the GTS is definitely the preferred choice.
The most important package of all has to be the Track Package. It saves 57 pounds with its lighter wheels, featherweight StopTech brakes, Sidewinder II wheels and stickier Pirelli P Zero Corsa tires. This is a noticeable gain both aesthetically (with the wheels) and also when cruising around the roads and powering on the racetrack.
The only negative I found with the Viper's handling was the steering. The ratio (16:7:1) is unchanged, but the lighter, stiffer car, with its wider front track makes it extremely twitchy. Even after hours of driving you never truly get used to it.
Fuel economy has not yet been released, but expect it to be similar to the outgoing Viper (13 city, 22 highway, 16 combined). SRT admits that improved fuel economy was not of premium importance for a machine like the Viper.
The new SRT Viper is a more livable, comfortable Viper that still retains its fearsome reputation. It won't try to kill you, but it will leave you tingling with excitement every time you step behind the wheel. Comparisons are sure to be made with the Corvette ZR1, given the similar price tags and aggressive nature of the vehicles, and a clear winner is tough to judge. Whatever your stance, the Viper leaves an impression upon you. It is raw, unleashed driving at its very best. It's not just suitable for pros anymore. It's suitable for everyone.
Alex Lloyd filed this NewCarTestDrive.com report after his test drive of the SRT Viper. Alex won the 2007 Indy Lights Championship and finished fourth in the 2010 Indianapolis 500.
|Model Line Overview|
|Model lineup:||SRT Viper SRT ($97,395) Viper GTS ($120,395)|
|Engines:||640-hp 8.4-liter V10|
|Safety equipment (standard):||multi stage frontal airbags with OCS, ABS, child seat anchoring system with passenger airbag switch, stability control, tire pressure monitoring, head impact protection, six-point restraint belt provisions, security alarm, SRT one-day Track Experience|
|Safety equipment (optional):||rearview camera|
|Assembled in:||Conner Avenue Plant, Detroit|
|Specifications As Tested|
|Model tested (MSPR):||SRT Viper GTS with Track Package ($120,395)|
|Standard equipment:||air conditioning, Nappa leather wrapped console and seats, engine start stop button, 12-speaker Harman Kardon audio system, Uconnect media center 8.4AN, media HUB with USB, SD and auxiliary input, SRT performance pages, 7-inch color instrument cluster, noise vibration harness reduction, auto dimming rearview mirror, Sabelt Nappa leather sport seats with Alcantara inserts, 6-way power seats, rearview camera|
|Options as tested (MSPR):||Track Package|
|Gas guzzler tax:||N/A|
|Price as tested (MSPR):||$123895|
|Horsepower (lb.-ft @ rpm):||640|
|Torque (lb.-ft @ rpm):||600|
|Transmission:||Tremec 6-speed manual|
|EPA fuel economy, city/hwy:||N/A|
|Track, f/r:||62.9/61.0 in.|
|Turning circle:||40.5 ft.|
|Head/hip/leg room, f:||36.62/N.A/42.72 in.|
|Head/hip/leg room, m:||N/A|
|Head/hip/leg room, r:||N/A|
|Cargo volume:||14.6 cu. ft.|
|Ground clearance:||5.0 in.|
|Curb weigth:||3374 lbs.|
|Tires:||295/30ZR18 front, P355/30ZR19 rear|
|Brakes, f/r:||14-inch Brembo calipers, StopTech two-piece slotted rotors|
|Unless otherwise indicated, specifications refer to test vehicle. All prices are manufacturer's suggested retail prices (MSPR) effective as of February 11, 2013.Prices do not include manufacturer's destination and delivery charges. N/A: Information not available or not applicable. Manufacturer Info Sources: - www.drivesrt.com|