2013 SRT Viper Coupe - FROM $
The 2013 SRT Viper sheds its Dodge name, but very little of its edge.
What's New for 2013
The 2013 SRT Viper will be an all-new model.
All you have to say is "Viper" and people will know what you're talking about. That this iconic sports car, with its single-minded approach to performance and styling from Planet Testosterone, came from the plebeian Dodge brand seemed pretty much irrelevant. For 2013, this pesky aspect has been done away with -- this time, the Viper is reborn under its own SRT brand.
The last Dodge Viper bowed out in the 2010 model year. Performance was never the car's problem -- the ACR version was arguably the most capable production sports car you could buy for racetrack duty -- but a lack of refinement slowed sales as buyers gravitated to the more well-rounded Corvette, Nissan GT-R and Porsche 911. Speculation ran wild about an eventual return.
At the 2012 New York Auto Show, the 2013 SRT Viper became official. In some ways, it's less radical than many predicted. Under the hood is an updated version of the car's iconic V10. It still has 8.4 liters of displacement, but it now generates 640 horsepower and 600 pound-feet of torque. That's 40 hp more than the former engine, extracted through the use of lighter-weight engine materials and components. Power is sent to the rear wheels through the only available transmission: a six-speed manual.
More notable is this number: 3,297. That's the Viper's curb weight when equipped with the optional Track Pack. Standard models will tip the scales at 3,354 pounds, or roughly 30 percent less than the previous Viper. Thank a multitude of carbon-fiber and aluminum body panels for the bulk of the weight reduction, although the engine has been slimmed down by 28 pounds as well. The Viper's all-new frame is said to be 50 percent stiffer than before and it rides on a set of specially developed Pirelli tires.
There will be two versions this time around ? a more aggressive, stripped-down base model and a loaded GTS. The GTS will get unique wheels, two-mode adjustable suspension, a slightly different hood and leather interior trim. Both models are roomier and more comfortable inside than before, with higher-quality interior materials and the availability of Chrysler's latest touchscreen audio and navigation systems. The new Viper even offers Bluetooth and a USB interface.
Also for the first time, the Viper comes with standard launch control and stability control, both of which can be fully turned off.
In our initial drive, we found the new Viper trustworthy and communicative enough to deserve a guest spot with Dr. Phil. Steering feel and feedback are better than in previous Vipers, and its motions through corner bumps and sharp transitions are more progressive and predictable. But don't think the Snake has grown docile; even when active, the traction and stability control systems still allow plenty of sideways action.
It's hard to imagine a more brazen move than launching a $100,000 car powered by a massive 10-cylinder engine into the current social and political landscape, especially from a company helped to its feet by American taxpayers. Then again, the Viper has never been about concession. It's always been about more, plenty more, and then an extra serving right up to the edge.
The 2013 SRT Viper goes on sale in December. Check back for a full Viper review with additional specs, driving impressions and buying advice as it becomes available.