By Cars.com EditorsMay 13, 2009
About the video
Cars.com's Joe Wiesenfelder takes a look at the 2008 Dodge Viper SRT10 convertible. It competes with the 2008 Audi R8 and the 2008 Jaguar XK.
Hi, I'm Joe Weisenfelder from cars.com. You might know the Dodge Viper, as a car that's meant for the track. And that it is, especially the hard top version.
We decided to drive it for a week, just as you would drive your own daily driver, just to see how usable it is, in normal life. Now out on the roads, even the rough roads of Chicago, the ride quality wasn't that bad at all. It's definitely a sports car, but things have changed a lot. The trade-off between sporty handling and ride quality, is not what it used to be. Another important factor in comfort, obviously is the seats. Very prominent side bolsters here. They're meant to keep you in place, when you're driving aggressively. I'm kind of a stick figure. So I'm comfortable enough, but someone larger than me, might find these a little too restrictive. Now among the changes for 2008 are, a new stick for the transmission, much shorter throws, which is really great, but more important, the clutch pedal is much lighter and much easier to use than it used to be. The main difference is that, the clutch is not as abrupt and that's important, if you're gonna drive something like this every day, it's very important in the Viper, not to do anything too abruptly, because it can get squirelly. Some other day to day niceties, you're not gonna get in a Viper are, cruise control or a cup holder to speak of. There's this ashtray that when you remove it, someone has left us a message. It says, "THIS IS NOT A CUP HOLDER." with the top up, you can see pretty well off the side window and the rear window. If you're trying to look directly behind you though, it's a lot harder. This area here is raised and the seats are designed in such a way that it's really hard to twist yourself around. My head is about as high as the head restraint and the roll bar. Getting out of the Viper can always be the interesting. Aside from the sill being deep and very wide, it gets pretty hot, considering that the exhaust pipe, runs right under the sill here. There's actually a warning right here, to the effect. People give a lot of attention to wheel size. 19 inch wheels, which are what these are here. But here the story is, the width, this is a 3'45. It's about as wide a tire as you're gonna find, on a regular production car. I don't have a small foot, but this gives you an idea, how wide they are. Now you might think with all this rubber that you'd never lose traction. But with 600 horsepower, it's easy to lighten up the rear end. Even when the car's already moving. It goes without saying, this isn't a car for winter climates, but it's not just about snow and ice. Even when it got into the forties this week in Chicago, I found that the car got a little bit more squirrely, just from having the compound of the tire, that much colder. So obviously, this is a car, that's only on the street. Not only when it's dry, but when it's warm. The original Viper didn't have a top at all. I'm not saying it was convertible, it had no top. So in a lot of ways, the car's become a lot more livable, but it's still not anyone's idea, of a primary car. Now there's one fatal flaw we found, and that is, there's no way to get into the trunk, except for the key and the remote transmitter, which you usually have together on a ring. If you put them in the trunk and close it, you're really screwed. And we know this, because right now we're waiting for a tow truck. And I wish I were kidding. <v Narrator>For additional information on this car or any other, go to cars.com and our blog, kicking tires.
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