Up close with the new SRT Viper
America bites back! How Detroit's scariest sports car sharpened its fangs
Posted: 15 Jun 2012
But when the last-gen Viper ACR could lap the Nordschleife in under seven-and-a-half minutes, you get the feeling these guys know how to set up a fast car. And the solid base should give the new suspension a decent platform to push from: the regular car will get top-notch Bilstein shocks, and the GTS gets a two-stage adjustable ‘Damptronic’ system, allowing you to switch from Street to Track via a button in the cabin.
“The Track setting is a big jump from the base car, so the Street setting is a little softer, following feedback from owners who want to be able to drive their significant other out to events,” says Ruedisueli, looking thoughtful. Possibly also people who come straight from driving that 911 or Audi R8 and aren’t quite prepared for the rudimentary characteristics of the old Viper, even if they liked the brawny all-American muscle-car attitude and very – how to put this? – ‘specific’ dynamic characteristics. Ah yes, the Viper ‘characteristics’. It’s fair to say the Viper has a bit of a reputation, with precisely no cars rivalling its hit rate on the wall of shame that is wreckedexotics.com. Twenty-three pages of unintentional carnage (Ford GT, six pages; Ferrari 599, three pages) attest to the fact that the Viper only featured the rudimentary traction-control systems attached to your ankles.
Any time you strapped yourself in, you were painfully aware that you were operating without a safety net. In the dry, it was a handful in the same way as, say, wrestling a bull is a handful. In the wet, show it anything but respect, and a Viper would have you sitting in a field, picking bits of plastic dashboard out of your teeth before you could say, “I’m pretty sure it won’t wheelspin in third…”