2015 Dodge Viper GT: The ACR Makes Our GT Feel Refined
August 14, 2015
Our long-term 2015 Dodge Viper GT is a serious car. It's loud inside and out. Its tires are huge. And it's very fast. So what does that make the Dodge Viper ACR? After driving our long-term test car 2,740 miles across the country, I was eager to find out.
As it turns out, our GT isn't serious. It's quiet. Soft, too.
Making a car go faster around a racetrack requires narrowing the car's focus, shaving away non-essential things like street drivability with each step you take down the rabbit hole. And I can't think of a new car from a major manufacturer that's gone further down the hole than the ACR. Only the Porsche 911 GT3 RS shares a similar intent.
The Road Test covers the transformation, but if you take away one thing, it should be how the front splitter and strakes on the rear diffuser are designed to rub the ground and be replaced. That is serious.
It's not the hardware alone. The adjustability in the suspension and aerodynamic package allows owners to tailor different setups from track to track. The ACR also prioritizes durability. While magazines and bench racers tend to compare single lap times, the ability to drive many laps at pace is what separates street cars from racecars. The engine, tires, and brakes need to be able to hold at temperature and last.
I have no doubt they do, but I challenged a few of these parts while lapping the ACR on Virginia International Raceway's 4.1-mile Grand Course configuration. It's a fast and technically demanding track with anywhere up to 30 turns depending who you ask. In my amateurish hands, the ACR could reach more than 130 mph in three different places.
Typically, under-driving a racecar means a bad time. When the hardware isn't up to temperature, it doesn't work. There's no grip in the tires, no bite from the brakes, and not enough speed to reap the benefits of downforce. I didn't sense this racecar-style light switch with the ACR. Instead, its high performance headroom also comes with a climbable learning curve. I wanted to learn it.
I spent five days in our GT. I thought it was rough. I'd put the electronically-controlled dampers in Race mode to remind myself that the ride quality could be worse. I taped up the windows to reduce interior noise and put towels on the arm rests to make my elbows more comfortable. But after driving the ACR, our GT seems refined.
The normal Viper isn't a car for most people; the ACR is a car for even fewer. I love it.
Carlos Lago, Road Test Editor