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Monstrous new SRT (Dodge) Viper at New York Motor Show

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April 16, 2012

The original Viper was an outrageous and unsubtle statement of muscle-car intent, but this...

The original Viper was an outrageous and unsubtle statement of muscle-car intent, but this seventh incarnation is a much-refined beast

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After a period when financial crisis threatened the very existence of Chrysler’s SRT performance brand, the company came back to the New York Motor Show with a fitting flagship, the brand-new Dodge... sorry - SRT Viper and Viper GTS. The original Viper was an outrageous and unsubtle statement of muscle-car intent that unfortunately was unable to hide its uncouth truck-based roots. A loud and powerful beast that featured a comically small cockpit, no particular interest in going around corners and the torsional stiffness of a blancmange. The statement of intent remains but this seventh incarnation is a much-refined beast.

The defining elements remain of course - the front-mid mounted 8 liter V10, the side-mounted exhausts, the massive front wheel-arch vents and the rear-biased cockpit - but the design is much sleeker and more coherent with an Italian flair to the front fascia and integration of the snake-eye headlight clusters. The Viper was always a striking vision but the latest version is almost pretty ... almost.

If the design of the exterior is an improvement, the quality of the interior is a revelation. Ergonomics have advanced significantly with increased legroom, increased seat travel and, for the first time, seat height adjustment. Standard high-performance racing seats from Sabelt, Ferrari’s seat-maker, feature a lightweight Kevlar/fiberglass shell and generous bolsters, and in the GTS virtually all surface are beautifully trimmed in stitched leather. There’s even a built-in cubby hole for your iPad.

Standard high-performance racing seats from Sabelt, Ferrari’s seat-maker, feature a lightw...

These days any car with race pretensions must feature a trick dashboard. Designed specifically for the 2013 SRT Viper, a new 7-inch, full-color, customizable instrument cluster display uses a full-time analog tachometer readout in the center. Drivers have a wide range of custom and personal options such as an additional digital speedometer readout just below the tachometer.

The vehicle information is communicated with icons and controlled through a four-way steering-wheel control. The driver can configure the screens to display the information they desire, mixing and matching information. A range of Harman Kardon surround-sound systems with up to 18 speakers complete the cockpit entertainment. Hours of fun and distraction await.

The 2013 SRT Viper full-color display

None of this effort would be worth it if performance wasn’t up to snuff and great strides have been made here also. The mighty aluminium 8.4 liter hand-built V-10 engine has been breathed on. Improvements for 2013 include a new lightweight composite intake manifold, high-strength forged pistons, sodium-filled exhaust valves, new catalysts to reduce back pressure and an aluminum flywheel that reduces reciprocating losses. 25 pounds (11 kg) has been shaved from the fully dressed engine.

Preliminary performance ratings for the SRT-engineered V-10 Viper are 640 horsepower (460 kW) and 600 lb.-ft. (814 Nm) of torque - the most torque of any naturally aspirated engine available.

The Tremec six-speed manual transmission has been improved with a shorter throw shifter, closer gear ratios and a final drive ratio that has been shortened to 3.55 from 3.07. Top speed is now achieved through 6th gear with maximum engine speed (redline) at 6,200 rpm.

Power is nothing without chassis control - an area in which the Viper has been traditionally weak. Starting with a stiffer structure that provides 50 percent more torsional rigidity, the chassis of the 2013 SRT Viper benefits from a number enhancements learned through racing efforts with Viper GTS-R and Competition Coupe models.

The 2013 SRT Viper engine bay

Major updates include the addition of an aluminum "X" brace under the hood that ties the suspension pickup points to the magnesium cowl super casting and contributes to improved torsional rigidity and stiffness. A new aluminum impact beam at the front of the car contributes to overall mass savings and improved weight distribution while providing excellent crash-worthiness.

Structurally, many areas of the chassis were reworked to take advantage of new materials, reduce thickness in some areas and reshape components for more structural rigidity in others. The result is an overall weight savings of approximately 100 pounds (45 kg). At the rear, the suspension has been re-engineered with the toe link moved forward of the axle for better tow control and dynamic stability.

A new, driver selectable two-mode suspension system, featuring Bilstein DampTronic Select shock absorbers with both street and track settings, is standard on GTS models.

It may seem an anachronistic vehicle in these times but the effort that Chrysler/STR have put into improving the iconic Viper is impressive. One can’t help but root for the success of the hand-built beast from Detroit.

Race versions will once again be competing at this year’s Le Mans 24 hour.

About the Author
Vincent Rice Vincent Rice has been an audio-visual design consultant for almost 30 years including six years with Warner Brothers Cinemas. He has designed several large retail installations in London and a dozen major nightclubs across the world from Belfast to Brno to Beruit. An accomplished musician and 3D computer graphics artist, Vince also writes for AV Magazine in the U.K. and the Loudscreen digital signage blog.   All articles by Vincent Rice
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18 Comments

This car is ridiculous. Its at least 20 years too late. No one in their right mind will buy an 8 litre sports car other than retired fat plumbers. They certainly won't have an Apple product (if they do Apple should take it off them as it will damage their brand). Now if it was a 3 litre 6 cylinder bi turbo, it might have a chance. Who approves this nonesense at these companies? They are like kids when you say 'don't do that' and they go and straight away do it again... bizarre.

Sydneysider
16th April, 2012 @ 06:26 pm PDT

for speed I find my Son's daily driver 2002 rsx type s Acura modded with a LSD (yes me installed) and computer mods to allow a 9,500 rpm shift point with headers and no cat to be more than adequate, this 8 litre monstrosity is a dinosaur from a GONE ERA on a road course the 2.0 litre Acura RSX would spank the penis impaired Viper driver or the decades old tech from twin turbo 2.7 Audi v-6. good luck correcting me, , I have a road for you to try, as in try to keep up. Regards, Bill

Bill Bennett
16th April, 2012 @ 09:09 pm PDT

You guys say why .. when the blokes at Chrysler are saying why not ... they have gone from being bankript to back in the black largely on the backs of cars like these, the rubicon jeeps etc .. nieche marketing .. .and come on 810 Nm of torque .. that just screams drift any corner you like.

I love a high tech turbo .. but there is something about a big block as well ...

Guy Robertson
16th April, 2012 @ 09:27 pm PDT

@Sydney & Bill

Look at the 2010 viper acr Nurburg ring time & 24 hours @ Le Mans 3year in a row win streak Then talk about performance!

Gee whiz
17th April, 2012 @ 12:20 am PDT

Hmmm my first words, "Oooo that is pretty".... that is a good looking car.

Lovely paint job etc..

See if FUEL was totally unlimited, and there were NO environmental damage from extracting it, refining it, and using it - and it was like 10c a gallon.

And there were trans-state and national highways, that had more or less no speed limits...

And I had shit loads of money - I'd have one.

Not sure how long I'd end up living....

As much as force fed little 2 liter engines have going for them... there is something inherently wonderful about a HUGE hard running monster blue printed V8 engine... just idling at 100mph.

Kind of like comparing a steak sandwich to rice crackers.

Mr Stiffy
17th April, 2012 @ 04:10 am PDT

the dash and steering wheel are VERY audi R8.

@Gee whiz

the vipers driven round the ring are specially set up by a team of dozens of professional engineers, specifically for the Nurburgring. The car you'd buy in a dealership would have little to do with the 'ring car.

It would have even less to do with a Le Mans racing car, which cost $500,000 and are almost completely stripped and rebuilt with bespoke components

mommus
17th April, 2012 @ 04:28 am PDT

Love everyone's opinions. However keep in mind that not everyone lives in Australia or the UK. There are PLENTY of people in the US and other places that will jump on that car..because they can, because they have tons of open road to travel on as well and because frankly, they prefer a big block noise to the pussy whine of a turbo

Rocky Stefano
17th April, 2012 @ 06:06 am PDT

Apparently none of you have owned or driven a Viper. It's pure adrenalin, especially in the 90's. If you were an experienced driver, they handled great. They were difficult to drive on the street for newbies due to the overly stiff suspension and massive breaks without anti-lock. Bumpy roads were a handling problem but you know that going in. However, on a track, they were pure magic. It was a no-compromise car with emphasis on track. It didn't need any help on a track to pretty much dust anything on the planet at half the cost of any other SuperCar. It was a kit car with more torque than the rear tires could cope with. It still is an American icon that every man or boy looks at with awe.

If you are a wanna-be-racer with no actual experience and think that a 2.0 liter anything is going to be as exhilarating as driving the viper, then you just don't get it. No amount of discussion is going to change your mind, it's guy thing.

rconaway
17th April, 2012 @ 09:26 am PDT

Crap!

No DOHC;

No double clutch;

No straight injection;

No recovery system;

CRAP!

Mateus Kampus
17th April, 2012 @ 11:34 am PDT

I don't even own a car anymore. Prefer my bikes. But rconaway is spot on, it's a guy thing.

John Alexander
17th April, 2012 @ 01:11 pm PDT

It is truly wonderful to see how opposite people can be.

If I had the cash would I buy one? Your darn right I wouldn't!

My tastes lie elsewhere. Not a 2.0 Litre Turbo (though I can appreciate the technology) but certainly would love to have several cars out their with V-12s or V-8s and 3-6 litres.

I appreciate the Viper for what it is. There isn't much else like it on the planet and I love to hear the rumble.

If you like them and can afford them, good on you. If you don't like them, don't buy them.

BTW, I know the 2014 Formula One engines are going to be marvels at 1.6 litres with a single turbo but I would still rather go back to the 3.0 V-10!

Finally, I am not a car wizard but I think the double clutch only applies to automatic gearboxes and I think this one is manual!??

Dr. Veritas
17th April, 2012 @ 02:37 pm PDT

I LOVE that they still make cars like this! Back in the early 2000's I rented one of these and took it on a road trip and was rewarded with almost 29 MPG at a steady 75MPH. (I know I was driving it wrong!) I think it's amazing you can get nearly 30 MPG out of an 8 liter V10 and go almost 200 MPH if you had the room to run it out? You know this car must do at least that good and it's really a beautiful car!

mrhuckfin
17th April, 2012 @ 05:47 pm PDT

the vipers driven round the ring are specially set up by a team of dozens of professional engineers, specifically for the Nurburgring. The car you'd buy in a dealership would have little to do with the 'ring car.

It would have even less to do with a Le Mans racing car, which cost $500,000 and are almost completely stripped and rebuilt with bespoke components

mommus - April 17, 2012 @ 04:28 am PDT

NOT true, those cars were right off a dealers lot (add a race seat and belts for safety)and the suspension settings were right out of the track ready book supplied to each and every customer that buys one. There were 8 guys that went over for this and they only got 3 rain free laps to crush the record. Now GM and most other "contenders" spend months over at the Ring tuning for the best lap and they still can't get it done. Get your facts straight.

mj25
18th April, 2012 @ 09:08 am PDT

Line up 10 little small motor,rice burners, and switch all the name plates around. NO one would even notice. They ALL look the same, drive the same, and sound the same. The average person sees one and thinks some kid took a base model, entry level econo box, and added some cheap fiberglass body flares, an aftermarket muffler, and wheels. At the very least, you notice a Viper. Everyone notices a Viper. The look, the sound, it is different. How many rice burners would it take to add up to 600 foot pounds of torque?

Most of the fast little rice rockets HAVE to be modded and prodded to get real performance out of them. The novelty of a 5 minute slide session wore off a long time ago. Take one of those little boy toys, and try to make it last running flat out for 24 hours, or set records at the Ring. Not going to happen.

I pray to God, there will always be at least one auto manufacturer willing to market huge, fire breathing 8,10, and 12 cylinder beasts. It means they get it.

Jack Livingston
21st April, 2012 @ 07:13 am PDT

obvious fiat hands on.those italian designers leave the pack laps behind.

Cowfy Kaufman
21st April, 2012 @ 08:04 pm PDT

Alfa redid the Viper first http://www.carspeedo.com/2011/04/zagato-turns-dodge-viper-into-an-alfa-romeo/

Luddite
23rd April, 2012 @ 11:41 am PDT

FINALLY WE HAVE A TRUE FERRARI BEATING SUPERCAR AGAIN. THANK YOU SERGIO MARCHIONNE.

Erlord Ofthe Afterscape
22nd November, 2012 @ 10:30 am PST

Damn I hate whingy eco-emo's. I'd have this car in a heartbeat. I'd have a 20 year old one in a heartbeat. If I could afford one I would own one. And I'd smile the whole time.

Tony Smale
22nd November, 2012 @ 11:10 am PST
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