2015 Dodge Viper GT: Which Would You Rather?
by Josh Sadlier, Senior Editor on October 21, 2015
A Corvette Z06 with the Z07 package passed through recently, and I took it upon myself to give it a thorough evaluation one weekday morning in the mountains north of Ojai.
A couple days later, I grabbed our 2015 Dodge Viper's key for the weekend faster than you can say, "Personal comparison test!"
Any honest conversation about the new Z06 has to include its ECU's proclivity to turn the fun down after some hard driving. I was going at it pretty vigorously up to 5,000 feet and did not experience this issue, but then again, due to the engine's preposterous thrust from about 1,800 rpm on up, I didn't feel the need to keep it racing near redline on a public road.
In fact, you're distinctly illegal near redline unless you're in first, because second gear's good for 90 mph. What I'm saying is, it's possible to work the engine a lot harder than I was, and that's where people are reporting problems. Which is a bummer, because you want your stupendously fast car to be stupendously durable too, no matter what you throw at it.
Correct me if I'm wrong, but the Viper seems immune to such issues. Takes a licking, keeps ticking. I like that this car won't be fazed by a bunch of hot laps at the peak of summer. It's got swagger on the street and it backs that up on the track. This is why people buy Hummers, by the way. They're not necessarily going to use all that capability, but there's a heightened sense of badassery in knowing it's there. The Viper's never gonna make you question its fortitude.
Unfortunately, the same can't be said of the Z06.
In most other areas, of course, the C7 is simply a more enjoyable companion. The engine sounds awesome, not aggravating. The roof pops off and stows neatly in the trunk, a very welcome first for this Z06 generation. The view out the front is expansive and thrilling, with voluptuous fenders framing the road like in a Lotus Elise.
The driving position is perfect. The steering is right-now responsive yet delicate and precise in a way that had me thinking slightly-less-rich man's Porsche. In any case, it's an enormous improvement over the C6. The shifter and clutch are remarkably approachable and intuitive for such a high-powered machine. And if you want to take a road trip, the Z06 has a supple grand-touring side too, no earplugs or chiropractor required.
But the Viper retains its edge as an indefatigable track-day weapon, and the styling's miles better from where I sit. If the SRT folks were to change their minds and keep building this thing, could they somehow make the V10 mellifluous, or else give us an engine that is (cough, Hellcat)? Could they close the comfort gap with the 'Vette? A Viper like that would make more sense to me at $100,000.
Possibly I'm missing the point.
Josh Sadlier, Senior Editor