2015 Dodge Viper GT: Familiarity Breeds Greater Appreciation
by Brent Romans, Senior Automotive Editor on December 8, 2015
Last night a text message popped up on my phone from Editor-in-Chief Scott Oldham: "How's that Viper?" it read. I wasn't sure exactly why he was asking. The question came out of the blue and, to my recollection, the number of times Scott had messaged me during my career here at Edmunds would be, well, zero.
But hey, when the boss asks you a question, you answer. With honesty, I replied: "Getting to like it the more I drive it, actually."
Based on our published updates so far, it's fair to say this isn't an easy car to love. A Viper is just a car you have to make excuses for, especially if you've got a Chevrolet Corvette Z06 or Porsche 911 around to compare it to.
Beyond the ergonomic and/or comfort aspects that have been highlighted in prior updates, I've also found the Viper intimidating to drive at times. Puttering around town for errands or what not, that's no problem. But if you want to drive with some enthusiasm on public roads and sample the Viper's herculean power and grip, it just doesn't automatically imbue you with confidence.
That's especially true if, like me, your talents are modest and your style of driving is conservative for fear of doing something career-endingly stupid. Some of that is because of the way the car drives and communicates through the steering, but part of it is just the mental aspect of knowing about the car's rough-edged reputation.
But the interesting aspect is, like Reese Counts noted in his recent update about driving our Viper for three days in a row, or Josh Jacquot making peace with it during a track day, I've found myself liking the Viper with each passing day it's been in my driveway.
I've carefully teased out more about how the car handles over time, gaining confidence. The butt-plop maneuver to get in the driver seat is now second nature. Upshifts and rev-matched downshifts are now easier and quicker than ever.
More time with the car has also allowed me to enjoy the car's other aspects. First of all: we've got a 645-horspower Viper in our fleet! How cool is that? You'll see dozens or perhaps hundreds of Corvettes and 911s on the road before you see another Viper.
I've even come to like the exhaust note. It's not pretty at startup and low rpm, true. You could say it sounds like a UPS truck and you'd be right. But you can also think about it positively and say it's not much of a stretch to say it sounds a F4U Corsair firing up. And just like a Corsair in a dive, the Viper has its own aural appeal when you pin the throttle and let it rev past four grand.
How's that Viper? It's pretty great.
Brent Romans, Senior Automotive Editor