After two years' hiatus, the Viper returns redesigned for 2013. Look no further than the drivetrain to see what the car is all about: a 640-horsepower, 8.4-liter V-10 that shreds the rear tires through a six-speed manual transmission. There is no automatic option.
The Viper competes with high-performance cars like the Chevrolet Corvette Z06 and ZR1 and the Porsche 911. It comes in base and better-equipped GTS versions.
The Viper carries a similar profile to its predecessor, but its body is made out of lighter materials, with carbon fiber making up the roof for the first time. Chrysler says body stiffness improves 50 percent, and the base Viper's weight drops to 3,354 pounds. It lightens to 3,297 with an SRT Track Package. That's 105 pounds lighter than the previous model, but still 100 to 300 pounds heavier than a Corvette Z06 or the lightest Porsche 911s.
LED daytime running lights flank the headlights, while gills behind the front fenders extract air from the engine bay. Engine exhaust, meanwhile, emerges from a side exhaust pipe below each door. It's a longtime Viper trademark, but SRT says it improved insulation so drivers won't roast their legs on the door sills, something the old Viper could incur.
Pirelli P-Zero tires are standard, with P295/30ZR18 in front and P355/30ZR19 in the back. The wheels come in polished aluminum, painted Hyper Black or low-gloss black.
SRT stitches the wraparound interior in a leather-like skin in the base Viper; it's real leather in the Viper GTS. Racing seats come in cloth in the base model or leather in the GTS, with a seating position that's 0.8 inch lower than before to improve clearance for racing helmets. The seats also gain another 3.5 inches' rearward travel, and they now have 1.6 inches of height adjustability. The GTS has power-adjustable seats. Other options include a navigation system and Harman Kardon audio.
A 7-inch digital gauge cluster is fully customizable. The center controls include a standard 8.4-inch touch-screen with two available levels of multimedia options.
Under the Hood
Thanks to improved intake airflow, higher-strength pistons, backpressure reduction and an aluminum flywheel, the Viper's V-10 makes 640 hp and 600 pounds-feet of torque. Chrysler says the latter figure is the highest for any normally aspirated (non-turbocharged or supercharged) engine in the world, and the whole engine weighs 25 pounds less than the last Viper's 8.4-liter V-10. A launch control button on the steering wheel optimizes acceleration from a standing stop, maintaining revs to maximize acceleration while limiting wheel-spin through first gear.
The sole transmission is a Tremec TR6060 six-speed manual, the same transmission used in the Corvette ZR1. A quicker, 3.55:1 final drive ratio replaces the last Viper's 3.07 ratio. An "X"-shaped brace across the engine helps body stiffness, while the redesigned suspension features an optional adaptive setup with two driver-selectable modes in the Viper GTS.
An electronic stability system is standard. Behind the wheels sit large, 14-inch antilock disc brakes with Brembo calipers at all four corners. An SRT Track Package adds lighter discs from performance-brake manufacturer StopTech.
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