By now you’ve heard that the Viper sports car has been reincarnated; this time wearing SRT badging rather than Dodge. Early reports are that this is a kinder and gentler Viper, to which die hards respond, “Say it isn’t so!” Well has the snake truly been charmed? Well we’ll be the judge of that. And, we here at our favorite road course to find out!
Yes, the 2013 SRT Viper may no longer be a Dodge, but no matter what you call it, the only place to really experience a Viper is at the track, and while we’ve applied rubber to just about every major road course in the country, it’s our annual winter trek to Savannah’s two-mile Roebling Road Raceway that we look forward to the most.
We’ve driven every previous generation Viper here and they didn’t as much slither through these 9 high speed turns as pulverize them into submission. Well, is this new Viper indeed a kinder and gentler reptile?
Well, yes and no. It certainly felt a lot more unwavering on our initial laps and it had no problem holding a line. But, it’s not exactly sedate either, there’s still plenty of naughtiness to go around.
It really all depends on what traction control mode you’re operating with… …wait, traction what? Yes, the new Viper has an electronic nanny. I guess it was inevitable. But, you can totally disable it for the true Viper experience. And if you plan on taking in lots of track days, we’d suggest stepping up to the GTS, as it offers additional modes for the Stability Control and a 2-mode suspension system with Bilstein DampTronic Select shock absorbers.
The suspension design is thoroughly revised and lightened with a wider front track and stiffer frame to support it. We immediately noticed a much improved eagerness to turn in; though steering with the throttle is still where the fun’s at! You can further the insanity by opting for the SRT Track Package which shaves weight further and increases grip with race compound Pirelli P Zero Corsa tires on ultra-lightweight wheels, 18’s in the front, 19’s in the rear.
There’s still a nasty amount of power, but it does feel better mannered than before. And there’s still 8.4-liters worth of V10 under the hood, although it’s also gotten lighter as well as stronger. Horsepower is up to 640, with torque coming in at 600 lb-ft. It’s one of our all-time favorite rhythm sections and we’re glad to hear it rocking out once again. Transmission remains Tremec 6-speed manual only, but it likewise is improved, working far more smoothly than before.
Combined, they spring the Viper to 60 in just 3.5-seconds! And things have gotten a lot easier off the line thanks to standard Launch Control. Once you get rolling though, it’s down the quarter mile with a smile and a prayer as you struggle for traction on the way to hitting 128 miles-per-hour in 11.5-seconds. The brakes, which didn’t feel that impressive on the street, came alive at the track and showed no signs of fading.
If you spent any time in previous Vipers, unless you were on the track, the experience just wasn’t that pleasant. Jarring is a good word. Well that’s no longer the case. The new Viper is much more enjoyable to drive than before, though never use the word soft. You’ll definitely want to spend more time behind the wheel. So, you may want to keep a lawyer on retainer just in case.
And realizing that people who want to shell out six figures for a car with a barebones interior are few, Chrysler made the biggest changes of all inside the new Viper’s cabin. There’s more sound-deadening, nicer leather, and a much better audio system. Plus cruise control, available touch screen navigation, and even 14.7 cubic-ft. of cargo space to store your extra testosterone under the rear hatch.
Exterior design is a modern version of the original, a little more serious and a little less cartoonish, with every scoop and vent having a real purpose. Here too weight reduction was a goal, thanks to aluminum and even some carbon fiber body panels.
With all of those upgrades, an upgrade in price was expected, but we still think the Viper is well worth its $99,390 price tag. Jump to the GTS for just $23,000 more.
Quite simply, the 2013 SRT Viper delivers, and we want one bad. That’s why it a Drivers’ Choice Dream Machine. Indeed, it’s now refined interior and huge improvement in everyday livability might be just be what it takes to convince your spouse on buying one too. We mean it when we say Best! Viper! Ever!
Torque: 600 lb-ft.
0-60 mph: 3.5 seconds
1/4 mile: 11.5 seconds @ 128 mph