2013 SRT Viper Base Coupe (8.4L V10 6-speed Manual)
Driven On 8/20/2013
Only a handful of vehicles scream "supercar" more than the 2013 SRT Viper. It's loud, fast, stunningly pure and angry. It might not be the easiest to drive or live with on a daily basis, but few cars are faster around a race track. Or attract more attention just by firing them up.
PerformanceThe Viper's performance is among that of the best sports cars in the world. It's as fast as just about anything you can get from Italy, but it takes a highly skilled driver to get the most out of it.
With a 640 hp V10, the Viper's "launch control" resulted in a big burnout. Without it we hit 60 mph in 3.7 seconds. The robust 6-speed manual requires a firm hand and concentration.
The Viper's brakes are powerful enough for track-day use, yet linear around town. This base car stopped from 60 mph in 110 feet, versus 101 feet for the GTS model with stickier tires.
Steering is quick and accurate but lacks the feel of the Porsche 911, Cayman and new Corvette C7.
Even without the GTS model's adjustable suspension, the base Viper exhibits insane grip. Limits are extremely high, but approaching them is a challenge on less-than-perfect asphalt.
Only hard-core enthusiasts will drive the Viper daily. It's stiff and tall-geared, but far easier to use than the car it replaces. The V10 even gives off a distinctive Viper odor.
ComfortThe Viper isn't made for comfort. Everything from its hard seats to its off-beat V10 engine note to its outward visibility is compromised in the name of speed.
New shell-type seats provide ample support, but are harder than they need to be. There's more legroom adjustment than in past Vipers. The pedals are power-adjustable.
While the Viper GTS gets two-mode dampers, the base Viper makes do with single-mode. And yes, it's very, very stiff. Forget about the Viper if ride comfort is a priority.
Though not as loud as a Corvette ZR1 at wide-open throttle, the Viper's side-exit exhaust makes a serious racket. No one will miss your arrival. Or your departure.
InteriorThe fully redesigned interior is one of the new Viper's biggest improvements. Upscale materials and styling combine with modern features like optional navigation and standard Bluetooth.
Compromises in the name of speed still exist, but most of the old Viper's weaknesses have been diminished. There's even a functional two-hole cupholder.
Like most sports cars, the Viper asks its occupants to get low when entering. Making matters more difficult, the doors are small and you'll need to avoid the piping-hot side exhaust.
Space definitely isn't abundant inside the Viper, but there's enough room to drive hard. And that's what matters most in this car.
The Viper's high waistline and body shape don't enhance visibility. You sit low, the front fenders are high and the view rearward is seriously compromised.
The oddly-shaped 14.7 cubic-foot trunk is adequate for a weekend trip, but that's about it. Inside the cockpit, there are few places to stash anything.
ValueEven the base Viper has gotten pretty expensive, with a starting price of $101,990 including gas-guzzler tax and $1,995 destination. But this is a far better Viper than the outgoing model, and the performance is downright amazing.
Build Quality (vs. $)
Interior materials and assembly quality have been improved, but they're still not as good as most other exotics in this price range.
Features are plentiful and finally up to date. The modern stereo and electronics are big upgrades. It comes standard with Bluetooth, satellite radio and an 8.4-inch touchscreen.
With a starting price of $101,990, the Viper is an expensive machine and there's no getting around the fact that it costs more than some of its biggest rivals.
It's probably a good thing that no one buying a Viper is concerned about fuel economy. Because with an EPA-rated 15 mpg Combined (12 City/19 Highway), gas mileage is far from its strong suit.
The Viper comes with a 3-year/36,000-mile basic warranty. But the powertrain is covered for 5 years/100,000 miles. Impressive for a car that's destined to get a lot of abuse.
The Viper comes with roadside assistance for 5 years/100,000 miles, but doesn't have a free maintenance program.
Fun To DriveCertainly the Viper is among the most fun-to-drive cars in the world. It's loud, powerful, capable and mean. Anyone who drives one respects it, as they're trying to harness 640 hp. But you don't just drive a Viper, you experience it.
Be ready for loud because the Viper will make itself known and your eardrums will pay the price. But it's so gloriously angry-sounding, it's worth it.
Few supercars have more personality. Everything is exaggerated in the Viper from the way it shifts to the pure mechanical joy of operating its manly controls.
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