The Dodge Viper is tamer but still faster than it has ever been, and if you want one you had better place your order: Production of this all-American sports car is expected to end sometime in 2017.
The Viper once had a reputation for brutish unpredictability, and it is still the wildest car in the segment, but the current-generation Viper is easier to manage than the original version. All are two-door coupes with rear-wheel drive and 8.4-liter V10 engine.
The Viper is balanced in corners, its traction is under control, and its interior is civilized to the point of having a touchscreen in the cockpit. Yet enough bad boy remains that none of your passengers will be under the impression they are riding in a Porsche or even a Corvette. A Corvette feels refined by comparison.
Let’s start with Viper’s 8.4-liter V10 engine, derived from a truck. After decades of development it makes 645 horsepower, using a Tremec 6-speed manual gearbox. Its 600 pound-feet of torque is more than any non-turbocharged production car on the planet.
The Viper can accelerate from a standing start, heavy on its fat tires, to 60 miles per hour in three seconds, and hit 100 mph in less than 12. It will go 206 mph with the right aerodynamic trim, otherwise you may be mired around 177 mph.
Five different packages are available. The new 2016 Viper ACR gets Bilstein coil-over dampers, carbon-ceramic brakes and Kumho Ecsta rubber, with available aero using a carbon-fiber wing, undertray diffuser, louvered hood and front splitter that extends when you want to go 206 miles per hour. At Chrysler’s Chelsea proving grounds, we found that it is fantastic fun on a fast autocross circuit and an enjoyable test of driver skill to try to get the most out of it without ever leaving second gear.
The Viper hasn’t been crash-tested by the government. They don’t do expensive sports cars. They probably figure anyone crazy enough to drive a car that goes 206 miles per hour deserves what they get. Best we can say is don’t crash. A rearview camera is available and a good idea because rear visibility is poor and you don’t want to back into someone or something. As for fuel mileage, who cares? But you might be pleasantly surprised with an EPA-estimated 15 mpg Combined.
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