2010 Dodge Viper

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Review: 2008 Dodge Viper

This 2008 review is representative of model years 2008 to 2010.
By Dan Jedlicka of MSN Autos
Rating: 8

Bottom Line:

Still a head-turner, the limited-production Viper gets even more power.
Pros:
  • Powerful
  • Brutally fast
  • Dramatic styling
Cons:
  • Stiff ride
  • Long-throw clutch
  • Mainly for open-road driving

The 2008 Dodge Viper SRT10 (Street and Racing Technology — 10 cylinders), continues as America's most muscular sports car.

The rear-wheel-drive coupe sports a 600-horsepower 8.4-liter V10, coupled with a big-rig spec 560 lb-ft of torque. Performance is amazing: The Viper is able to streak from 0 to 60 mph in only 3.7 seconds, to 100 in 8.4 seconds, and reportedly can hit 200 mph.

Compared to the 510-horspower 8.3-liter V10 in last year's model, the 100cc-larger 2008 Viper mill has seen a 90-horsepower bump.

The only available transmission is a 6-speed manual, which has been updated with shorter shift throws. It works with a stiff, long-throw clutch with a new twin-disc design that is said to slightly cut down on clutch effort.

No-Frills Sports Car
Influenced by the iconic 1960s Shelby Cobra 427, the Viper has never been offered with an automatic transmission, and its first version didn't even have roll-up windows.

The Viper now provides such creature comforts as air conditioning, cruise control, a decent sound system, leather upholstery, adjustable pedals, xenon headlights and power windows, doors and locks with remote keyless entry.

There's still no power operation for the convertible top, and among the car's few options are "Razor" wheels with five U-shaped spokes.

Changes Under the (New) Hood
The only styling change for 2008 is a dramatic-looking new hood with a larger engine air inlet and new extractor slots to rid the engine compartment of excess heat.

Beyond the small displacement bump, mechanical changes include revisions to the engine's cylinder block and heads, and to the intake and exhaust systems. A larger oil pump helps prevent engine oil starvation during fast cornering. New cylinder heads have larger valves, and variable valve timing has been added to meet future emissions requirements. The Viper meets California's Low Emissions Vehicle (LEV) 2 mandates.

The Viper provides anti-lock brakes and a redesigned limited-slip differential, but side airbags and traction/stability control are not offered.

Leave Town
To appreciate the Viper, it's best to find some clear, dry, open roads. It isn't particularly happy around town, and some gear noise when starting out is also normal.

Where space permits, acceleration is violent if a driver floors the throttle in the lower gears. The Viper feels like a race car that is meant to be driven hard, fast and smoothly on smooth tracks. A high-performance driving course for new Viper owners is a good idea.

The firm suspension doesn't like road defects such as potholes and cracks. And the ride is jerky on bumpy roads and uneven freeway surfaces.

But the heavy steering is go-kart quick, and the Viper handles superbly with its race-bred, all-independent suspension. It also stops quickly, with a linear-action brake pedal.

Mixed Livability
Getting in and out of the Viper requires climbing over wide door sills to reach the purposeful interior, which has supportive bucket seats and a comprehensive instrument panel. Unfortunately, the instrument panel design looks low-rent for such an expensive car.

Interior materials also appear somewhat cheap, and the doors feel flimsy and close with a tinny sound, although the Viper is a hefty 2-seater at 3,440 pounds (convertible) and 3,450 pounds (coupe). Trunk room is decent for some soft luggage or grocery bags. The trunk lid rises smoothly on struts, but the underside of the lid looks unfinished because it has no lining.

Not that it matters much with a coupe as ferocious as the Viper, but estimated fuel economy goes from 12 mpg in the city and 21 on highways to 13 and 22, despite stricter, more realistic EPA economy tests. Premium fuel is required, and the Viper also suffers from a $1,700 gas guzzler tax.

One American Rival
The only American production sports car that comes close to the Viper is the 505-horsepower Chevrolet Corvette Z06 coupe. The much higher-volume Corvette costs $70,175, and has always been more comfortable and useful on a daily basis.

The Viper is offered as an $83,895 coupe or $83,145 convertible. There's a dazzling array of metallic paints in vibrant colors. Five new exterior colors are Venom Red, Snakeskin Green, Viper Violent, Viper Orange and Bright Blue. Our test Viper was Snakeskin Green, which drew frequent second looks as most Vipers do, regardless of color.

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BB03 - 9/17/2014 11:15:08 PM