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The world of supercars, with the help of technology, has taken a leap into hyper drive in a literal sense. With that in mind, it is refreshing for the hardcore enthusiast to see that the SRT division, which will now be helmed by Dodge as the performance brand for Chrysler vehicles, makes vehicles like the new Viper. The 2014 SRT Viper can be summed up as the rare brute of supercars paving its way into its snake den ready to greet its competition with a deadly bite.
First introduced as a 2013 model, the SRT Viper carries on its brutish duties packing in one of the largest naturally aspirated engines you can buy, a 8.4-liter V10 with its full 640 horsepower and 600 lb-ft of torque glory. With the standard Viper trim, and GTS trim, the differences are slight, mostly made up of different hood vents, leather upholstery with contrast stitching, faux sued inserts in the power seats, a nice-sounding Harmon Kardon audio system with 12-speakers, dual-mode Bilstein dampers, multistage stability/traction control system and lightweight brake rotors. The Viper T/A (Track Attack) variation adds more track-focused tweaks, including an advanced aero package, unique spring rates and suspension tuning, ultra-lightweight wheels, Pirelli P Zero Corsa soft compound run-flat tires and a carbon fiber X-brace.
In the confines of driving nannies like electronic stability control and traction control, the Viper still remains to be vicious. Though, much of that old character you found in the first couple generations of the Viper is now wrapped up in a package that gives you just the right dose of anti-venom. It is not to say that the Viper’s venom is any less potent, it is just the snake’s bite is less likely to give you a permanent dirt nap. Yes, most enthusiasts with a bit of sound mindedness can jump in the new 2014 SRT Viper GTS and make it home from track sessions without meeting your demise from a deadly bite in the form of a serious oversteering incident.
The new 2014 SRT Viper GTS demands attention and quickly earns your respect from the moment of slipping into the driver’s seat that fits you like a snug leather glove insulated with Alantara and leather lacing. Looking over the elongated carbon fiber hood is always a quick minor detail and reminder of you driving a supercar that belongs primarily on a racetrack. The driven-performance details, such as the notchy but short-shifting 6-speed manual transmission requires some man-handling to get it to do what you want – which is how I like it. After spending a few minutes around town, you quickly become one with the Viper and your confidence level improves as the menacing snake is no longer intimidating. That is until those wide open throttle moments, where the side exhaust pipes fill your ear drums with sputtering trumpet-sounds from what appears to be an angry beast charging down on you from an avalanche-activated mountain top. Banging just over 60 mph in first gear, in about 3.7 seconds (or less), the Viper stays mostly planted in the rear with some spinning. Thanks to its massively wide 355/30/19-inch Pirelli P-Zero run-flat tires, the 640 horsepower is manageable for the experienced driver. Sure, the front 295/30/18-inch tires have a lot of weight riding on them from the colossal V10 engine up front, but the Viper is more of a teaching exercise that you have no choice but to learn a few car balancing rules from its wide but well-proportioned supercar chassis no matter your experience level.
The SRT Viper can almost be a novelty when it is compared the normal automotive vernacular. For starters, the Viper is undoubtedly impractical. When seeking supercars and sports cars attempting to pass the dual-personality test, the Viper is at the back of the class goofing-off because it knows its exact strengths and it never pretends to be a vehicle that you would take for a long trip nor one to commute to work every day. The tests that the Viper excels in are on the track and the test of its attention-grabbing fun factor on the road.
The Viper GTS’ cockpit is just that, a place to pilot one of the most powerful vehicles to come off of an American production line. The form-fitting well-bolstered seats, the thick flat-bottomed steering wheel, and just enough tech equipment to navigate you to your nearest track, is all you are going to ever need or want in the Viper. It is just expected in a vehicle of this stature, an exotic finding its home on a track surface – or in your garage next to the rest of your automotive collection while you drool all over the massive curve-proportioned carbon fiber body panels.
Much of the interior is up to par for an exotic, and surely up-classed from previous generations of the Viper. You can live with the interior on back roads while the two-stage dampers are placed in street mode, the default and softest setting. In Race mode, the dampers are seriously firm and mostly designated for the track or deserted twisty back roads. While in street mode, the active dampers do a decent job keeping the ride compliant without giving up handling abilities yet still emit a livable ride. The standard rearview backup camera is a welcomed feature, as much of the Viper’s wide dimensions are extremely deceptive from the view of the driver. Visibility is also somewhat of a challenge driving down local roads and highways. Even stopping at a red light may require a down-forward movement of your head just to see the light above you change to green. Make no mistake, at the track you get to see all that you need to, and most of it is quickly-approaching tarmac bending around the next turn that the Viper eats up.
Demanding your undivided attention is the Viper’s V10 engine. The sound can be deceptive at times where the fast-pulsing idle on up to about 3,000 RPM sounds like mean tractor. Not to take away from the V10’s menacing sound out of the side exhaust pipes, its tune changes as it growls up past 3,000 rpm into a much stronger RPM band where most of its torque its produced. The Viper’s V10 likes to rev and you can easily contest to it unleashing a serious surge of power nearing the top end of the band where things just explode, literally. Even the rear tires will want to break loose when nearing 6,000 rpm if you have traction control disabled. Though, the 355mm-patched Pirelli tires out back do a superb job along with the limited slip differential to keep things in line. Funny to mention, the Viper will break its rear to the right when performing launches with the quickly-access launch control enabled from the steering wheel. Launch control is more of a misnomer as you are apt to still burning up the rear tires. The computer’s duty seems to get the Viper off of the line smoothly while the rest of the acceleration efforts are solely up to your right foot. Basically, launch control is more like a burn control for the rears. Additionally, the multistage traction control settings through the ESC steering wheel button takes you through limited traction/stability mode, traction control off/stability on mode, completely off mode by holding down the button for a few seconds and through a new-for-2014 rain mode.
Lateral control is excellent and this Viper doesn’t bite at you too hard when you lose traction. However, your undivided attention and vehicle handling skills are put to the true test when the rear end breaks and you have to wheel it back into line through soft throttle input and smooth steering angle adjustments. When you give up any slight attention, the Viper is apt to give you a venomous bite. I have to admit, with things spinning up near redline and such a massive surge of power pulsating through the drivetrain, the Viper is sometimes a handful.
Getting down to the bottom line of the new 2014 SRT Viper is its pricing, landing at $129,630 for my Viper GTS test vehicle with the added features of an SRT hood, high-performance audio system with 18-speakers, and the Venom-Hyper Matte Black wheels. Even though some may balk at the pricing, the 2014 SRT Viper GTS is still a true supercar that chases down and passes its closest-priced supercar friend down a mile strip, the infamous Nissan GT-R. Not to mention, bringing things to a stop from 60 mph only takes 101 feet, much thanks to the Viper GTS’ Brembo brakes and large slotted rotors. All around the Viper has world-class performance numbers and is well deserved of its price of admission for those who like to push the envelope.
Copyright: 2014 AutomotiveAddicts.com
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