Car Profile: 2013 SRT Viper

Viper Ext

Blue with white stripes: a classic muscle car color scheme. All photos from caranddriver.com

By the time you read this, automotive journalists around the world will be publishing their initial impressions of the 2013 SRT (née Dodge) Viper, and the consensus is that although ABS and traction control systems are now standard (and federally required), the Viper hasn’t lost the bite that made it famous.

The Viper is still powered by an 8.4L V-10 that now blows 640 furious horses out through the rear tires, 40 more than the last Viper produced. That last Viper (2008-2010) was certainly never starved for power, it produced 100 more hp than its predecessor, while only growing 100 cc’s. So think of the new Viper’s engine as more of an evolution rather than a revolution, but everything else has changed. In the engine bay, for instance, a new crossbrace, among other things, helps make the Viper 50% stiffer than the old model. The biggest difference between the old and new Vipers, other than the aforementioned inclusion of electronic aides, will be in the cockpit.

Photos from Motor Trend show a beautiful, leather- and aluminum-trimmed cabin with an 8.4 inch touch screen so light that MT remarks ” [it] weights only 1 pound, so SRT envisions keeping it even if an ACR race version is produced.” Judging by the information contained in the article, I would say the interior photos show the Viper in the upgraded GTS trim, a $23,000 option that transforms the hardcore sports car into more of a GT, with premium leather upholstery all around, power seats, sound deadening equipment, more powerful harmon/kardin speaker setup, and more. The new Viper logo, named “Stryker,” finds a home front and center on the steering wheel, behind which is a 7-inch screen that does duty as the main instrument panel.

Viper Int

Interior is infinitely better than in previous Vipers

The Viper retains its extreme cab-back design (the seats are positioned right in front of the rear wheels, and I would guess the hood accounts for at least 40% of the length of the car), side exhausts, and duck’s ass back end that has been a staple of Viper design since Tom Gale created the original R/T 10 concept in the late 1980s (under direction of Chrysler president Bob Lutz to create a modern version of the Shelby Cobra). In another move to harken back to the Vipers of old, the large vent behind the front wheels is again curved-it has been a straight diagonal slash since the third generation debuted in 2003. And fear not, Viper devotees, the exhaust pipes still shoot out of the sides between the door and rear tires.

It seems that the SRT Viper has benefited from Fiat ownership; early reports suggested that some Ferrari tech wormed its way into the Viper’s DNA, nut those comments have largely died down in the first test drives. One thing is for certain: the new interior is vastly improved over even the 2010 model, and the light brown color looks extremely high quality and devoid of cheap plastic bits, long a source of ridicule from the motoring press when comparing the Viper against its European rivals.

The SRT Viper goes on sale early next year, with prices starting at a hair under $100,000 for the base model and $23,000 more for the GTS “cruiser.”

Viper Laguna Seca

Some Laguna Seca love from SRT

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About Cameron Rogers

Cameron Rogers is the founder and lead writer at Downshift Autos, the only automotive blog on the Internet*. Born in the back of an AMC Gremlin, Cameron vowed to never let this extraordinarily embarrassing detail define him, so help him God. He drives a GTI but absolutely will not shut up about it if somebody asks. He will not hesitate to let people know that no, they shouldn't get a Porsche 911 when a Morgan 3 Wheeler is so obviously the superior choice. He is obsessed with the seats of a Carrera GT and the steering wheel of a Fisker Karma. He once sat in the driver's seat of a Tesla Model S, his greatest accomplishment to date. He is just now realizing that writing an autobiography, however miniscule, in the third person is odd and unnerving. *As of this writing, Cameron has been informed that there are, in fact, many websites and blogs centered around cars and car culture. He regrets his grievous error.

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