2015 Dodge Viper GT: America's Sports Car of the Year, 2014
by Cameron Rogers, Associate Editor on November 6, 2015
Four months with our 2015 Dodge Viper proves that what was true for the first Viper is also true for this one: this is not a car for the faint of heart.
It is a sports car designed to pummel the road into submission, creature comforts be damned. The low roof and high hood diminish forward visibility. Headroom is limited despite the head bubbles above the driver and passenger seats. Even with the suspension in its comfort-oriented setting, vibration is severe enough to register steps on my pedometer. And I have yet to find a way to climb out of the cabin without burning the hell out of my legs on the searing metal door sill plates.
On the bright side, gearing is tall, so commutes don't require constant shifting. On more than one occasion I've been stopped by onlookers who gush over the Viper's criminally seductive body. And the V10 produces more power here than any sane person could ever use.
But I'm not convinced the positives outweigh the practical considerations I must take into account before choosing to take the Viper home for a day or two.
But 2015 has brought salvation in the form of a sports car that combines everyday drivability with the unrelenting power of the Viper. A single night in a short-term 2015 Chevrolet Corvette Z06 has convinced me that it is the perfect all-rounder in the sub-$100k price range.
We recently tested a Z06 with the Z07 Performance package, which adds carbon ceramic brakes, Michelin Pilot Super Sport Cup 2 tires and a front splitter. With 650 horsepower and 650 pound-feet of torque on tap — 5 hp and 50 lb-ft more than the Viper — it's the most hardcore Corvette you can buy. It's also infinitely easier to live with day-to-day.
Where the Viper is best enjoyed in short spurts before you climb into your everyday commuter, the Z06 is completely usable as a daily driver. The bulge of the Corvette's hood cuts into the outward view, but there's far more to see here than in the Viper. There are no extra-large door sills to worry about, so ingress and egress requires no special gymnastic training. The exhaust shuts up at legal speeds. And, most importantly, I can get out of the Corvette without cooking up a side of fried Cameron calves.
The Z06 is also available with an abundance of creature comforts. You can get ventilated seats, front curb view cameras, and a head-up display. The ultra-cool Performance Data Recorder uses a windshield-mounted camera to shoot video in 720p, which you can transfer to your personal computer via an SD card. You can have the Z06 as a coupe or convertible and it is even available with an 8-speed automatic transmission, although I don't recommend it.
The Viper has a delightfully old-school sports car charm to it and its personality is off the charts. But if I was in the market for a six-figure sports car, I'd want one that pulled off the Jeckyll/Hyde combo of being easy to live with and capable around a track. The Z06 is genuinely enjoyable around town, has a wealth of 21st century tech in the cabin, tackles mountain passes with ease, and costs thousands less.
The only thing I won't like is cutting into those savings to have it painted in the now-discontinued Lime Rock Green.
Cameron Rogers, Associate Editor