Test Drive: 2013 Dodge Viper

?The SRT Snake returns following a 2 year hiatus?

Viper poised to strike with more venom

By Arv Voss

Viper front feature photo

Yountville, CA/Sonoma Raceway, CA – As the legendary Viper returns to Chrysler?s Street and Racing Technology (SRT) performance division lineup, it does so as its own brand, no longer carrying the Dodge moniker.

The 2013 Dodge Viper represents the fifth generation of the iconic two-seat supercar that?s built here in the U.S., and there will be two new versions of the SRT brand?s flagship performance machine: the SRT? Viper; and SRT Viper GTS. Both new models are more potent, and come with more venom in terms of power, performance, heightened craftsmanship, state-of-the-art technologies and a new level of comfort and interior ambience.

The new 2013 Dodge Viper have trimmed down in terms of weight, with a triple-digit reduction that delivers the best power-to-weight ratio of any Viper to date, while chassis enhancements boost the torsional stiffness by 50 percent.

2013 Dodge Viper in Adrenaline Red
2013 SRT Viper in Adrenaline Red

The power source for both new serpent models is a hand-assembled, all-aluminum 8.4-liter OHV-20-valve pushrod, 90-degree, V-10 engine with electronic sequential multi-port fuel injection that cranks out a whopping 640 horsepower at 6,150 rpm, while developing an equally impressive 600 pound feet of torque at 4,950 rpm – the most torque of any naturally aspirated sports-car engine on the planet. Motive force is metered to the rear wheels through a Tremec TR6060 six-speed manual overdrive gearbox, synchronized in all gears, with an electronic 1-4 skip-shift and reverse lockout.

2013 Dodge Viper SRT V-10
Viper SRT V-10

Appearance-wise, there are significant changes in the new Vipers, while the timeless exterior styling is maintained, while none of the original Viper appeal has been compromised, even though the latest examples reflect a more contemporary design approach, blended with evolutionary refinements. Their all-new carbon-fiber and aluminum body has been sculpted to ensure stability at high speed, with a .364 coefficient of drag.

2013 Dodge Viper - Rear
SRT Viper rear

The hood, roof and decklid are carbon fiber, while the door panels are made from aluminum. The long sculpted hood is forward-hinged and displays the new ?Stryker? Viper logo (so named by the Viper Club of America) at the center of its leading edge. The SRT power bulge hood features six air scoops, while the GTS hood comes with only two. A new, larger dedicated ?cold-air? intake is integrated into the hood of both Vipers. Dual function, bi-xenon projector headlamps incorporate white LED daytime running lamps, while LED directional signals appear in a ?snake-eye-like? format. The lower forward grille has evolved into a ?mouth-like? look in a V-shape form. The door release handles are new solenoid (touch) activated units that work in unison with the keyless access and go system.

The car?s stance is ground-hugging, and the cab showcases the extreme rearward proportion with the bold fender gills continuing the car?s classic and unmistakable profile. The ?Double-bubble? roof enjoys a contemporary execution yielding additional headroom and allowing helmet space. The exhaust continues to exit ahead of the rear wheels, but now appear with cast aluminum, sill-mounted bezels. The exhaust outlets are complemented by the one-piece anodized aluminum fuel door.

2013 Dodge Viper GTS Rear
SRT Viper GTS Rear

Out back, LED taillamps appear within a snakeskin-textured background, and the new, lightweight carbon fiber deck lid also wears the new Stryker logo. A new rear appliqu? appears in body color on SRT models and in Gloss black on GTS models. There is an integrated decklid spoiler, and there are also supplemental rear exhaust ports that aid in extracting air from beneath the car and out the rear wheelwell to relieve pressure buildup.

2013 Dodge Viper - Optional alloy wheels
SRT Viper with optional alloy wheels

Five-spoke forged aluminum wheels adorn the SRT version Viper in three available finishes while GTS models roll on 7 ?Y?-spoke Graphite finished alloy wheels. Brembo brake calipers are black for SRTs and Red for GTS Vipers. Tires for both Vipers are by Pirelli P-Zero for SRT and P-Zero Corsa for GTS) – P295/30 ZR 18s up front and P335/30 ZR19s in the rear. Wheel widths are 10.5-inches forward and 13-inches aft.

2013 Dodge Viper - Alloy wheels
SRT Viper alloy wheel

Paintwork is the deepest, smoothest and highest quality water-borne ever offered on Viper for a true showcar finish. The paint is sprayed by hand rather than by robotically Optional stripes are available in three colors and are applied first before the color coat and are covered by a final clear coat for a seamless surface finish. Stripe patterns run fully nose to tail on GTS and appear in abbreviated form for SRTs. There are six basic exterior colors, while the 2013 Dodge Viper GTS offers an expanded palette including a special 7-coat Stryker Red Tri-Coat Pearl finish for an extra $14,600. (no, I didn?t misplace a comma or add a zero – it?s really that much).

2013 Dodge Viper - GTS in $14,600 "Stryker" Red paint
2013 SRT Viper GTS in $14,600 “Stryker” Red paint

The 2013 Dodge Viper have also been treated to an enhanced and improved interior, featuring sewn and additionally padded for increased comfort. Seats are standard? high-performance racing seats by Sabelt featuring a lightweight Kevlar/fiberglass shell with enhanced side bolsters and thigh support. The seats are mounted lower and are height adjustable, while pedals are also height adjustable for attaining the optimum driving position. The 2013 Dodge Viper GTS models come with fully skinned leather.

2013 Dodge Viper - Special Interior
Viper GTS Special interior

My driving partner and I first piloted an 2013 Dodge Viper SRT?finished with an Adrenaline Red exterior and a Black interior. The base sticker read $97,395 with a final total of $99,390 after adding the Destination charge. We finished the day following track exercises at California?s famed Sonoma Raceway in a Race Yellow finished Viper GTS that started at $ 120,395 and topped out at $122,390 after adding for the SRT Track Package, Laguna Interior Package and Harman Kardon 18-speaker high performance audio system.

2013 Dodge Viper- GTS Wheel
SRT Viper GTS wheel

SUMMARY: If the opportunity of driving an early Viper ever came your way and you liked it, but were somewhat intimidated by its raw muscle and sheer power, then you?re sure to love the 2013 version SRT Viper offerings. They?re much more civilized despite the additional power output, due to the added stability and suspension improvements. Power is still ground-pounding and ruthlessly fast, but the control factor is more reassuring. The ride quality is indeed firm – firm enough to possibly preclude the urge for cross-country touring, but not unpleasant enough to overshadow the car?s performance potential.

The cars that we drove during the model introduction were all pre-production examples, but all were near perfect, with the possible exception of some uneven?gaps in areas like the trunk – nothing major however, with the promise of being corrected in final production units.

2013 Dodge Viper - Front View
Front view of Race version SRT Viper


I have to admit to having been snake bitten by earlier Viper models, but the new Viper is much more pleasant to wheel around a track or even on the road. I felt as if I was in control on the track, until I took a ride with Ralph Gilles, President and CEO of SRT Brand and Motorsports, Chrysler LLC, who also happens to be an accomplished racer. After several laps, I deemed myself inadequate to eke out the car?s best attributes. The car is indeed above and beyond the capability of most ordinary drivers – even those with extensive track time under their belts, but that doesn?t make it any less enjoyable. It is certainly leaps and bounds above the early example snakes, and less likely to bite. It is definitely an American super sports car to be reckoned with. Beware Corvette.


2013 Dodge Viper - SRT Race Viper
Most common view of SRT Race Viper


Base Price: $97,395. – SRT / $120,395 – GTS
Price as Tested: $99,390. – SRT / $122,390 – GTS
Engine Type and Size: 8.4-liter OHV-20-valve pushrod, 90-degree V-10 with electronic sequential multi-port fuel injection.
Horsepower (bhp): 640 @ 6,150 rpm
Torque (ft./ lbs.): 600 @ 4,950 rpm
Transmission: Tremec TR6060 close ratio six-speed manual, synchronized in all gears, with electronic 1-4 skip-shift and reverse lockout.
Drive Train: Longitudinally mounted mid-front engine / Rear-wheel drive.
Suspension: Four-wheel independent with high-performance aluminum control arms, knuckles and lightweight coil- over shock absorbers. Two-mode, driver selectable Bilstein DampTronic shocks on GTS model.Front – Cast-aluminum unequal-length upper and lower ?A? arms, toe-control links, coil springs, low-pressure gas-charged shock absorbers, stabilizer bar

Rear – Cast-aluminum unequal-length upper and lower ?A? arms, toe-control links, coil springs, low-pressure gas-charged shock absorbers, stabilizer bar

Brakes: Power-assisted four-wheel vented discs with Brembo calipers, electronic

Brakes: Power-assisted four-wheel vented discs with Brembo calipers, electronic multistage Stability Control/Traction Control – SRT 2- mode with launch control (Full-on, Full-off) / GTS 4-mode with launch control (Full-on, Sport, Track, Full-off).
Tires: Pirelli P-Zero 295/30 ZR18 front/3554/30 ZR19 rear mounted on five-spoke polished aluminum ?Rattler? wheels – 18×10.5? front / 19×13? rear.Pirelli P-Zero Corsa 295/30 ZR18 front/3554/30 ZR19 rear mounted on ultra-lightweight, matte finish ?Sidewinder II track alloy wheels – 18×10.5? front / 19×13? rear.
Wheelbase: 98.8 inches
Length Overall: 175.7 inches
Width: 76.4 inches
Height: 49.1 inches
Curb Weight: 3,300-3,450 lbs.
Fuel Capacity: 16 gallons
EPA Mileage Estimates: TBD mpg city / TBD mpg highway
Drag Coefficient: 0.369
0 – 60 mph: 3.3-3.5 seconds – Top speed=206 mph.

More from Our Auto Expert