I’ve always wondered why more people aren’t buying the new Viper. This car looks so good.
You can’t deny that the Viper is absolutely drop dead gorgeous. In fact, I loved the looks of it so much that I couldn’t stop taking pictures because no matter what angle I was viewing the car from, it looked more beautiful than most cars I’ve seen recently.
The Viper is mesmerizing to look at in person.
Besides being enthralled by the car’s looks, you’ll also find the car to be pretty intimidating – especially when you step inside by climbing over the super wide door sills. The seats are situated on top of huge side exhaust pipes and your butt is only a few inches away from the massive rear wheels.
The humongous 8.4L V10 is in front of you and the hood out front is so long that you’re not quite sure where it ends. It’s clear that when the SRT group built this car the people that would be driving or sitting inside the car were an afterthought; the car was built first and then they figured out where to cram the people in.
The Interior Is Great
The interior of this Viper actually kind of blew me away because unlike older generation Vipers, the fit and finish was amazingly good. It was kind of shocking really.
If you were blindfolded and put in this car, you would never think that you were in a Viper (assuming you didn’t look at the badging). Vipers have historically had such terrible interiors that this is definitely on another level.
After managing to wiggle myself onto the driver’s seat, I accidentally floored the gas pedal of the idling Viper which resulted in the V10 unexpectedly roaring to life.
It was so loud.
Immediately, I got some dirty looks from the people around me, with their dogs scampering away, thinking that I was showing off…but hey I didn’t do this on purpose!
Driving this car was not easy. The Viper is so wide and hood is so long that I found a hard time getting used to its dimensions. Varun (co-founder of LRA), was super careful with it since in rush hour traffic you could easily find yourself in a bind with either grazing the car next to you or hitting the curb on narrow lanes.
The visibility is incredibly limited and when driving you need to be utterly observant of everything around you. There are plenty of blind spots and the Viper attracts so much attention that you can see people straining to take pictures on their phones so that they can post them immediately on Facebook saying: “Badass ride, fo sheezy.”
During my drive, I could never quite get comfortable. Inspite of this, I have to say that the throttle response was just right because it was actually possible for me to drive this beast around town without letting the 600 lb-ft of torque catching me off guard. I expected it to be more challenging to control this monster than it ended up being – pretty easy to tame I must say!
The ride was firm but reasonably comfortable and overall I enjoyed driving the Viper although after some time behind the wheel I soon realized why more people aren’t buying this car.
Here is the problem. In order to really enjoy driving the Viper you have to achieve a level of comfort. And for this to happen it takes much longer than a quick test drive.
If you only drive this car for a few minutes, you spend most of the time struggling with the fact that you can’t see very well and that you have to tweak your driving style because you’re not really sitting towards the front of the vehicle – most of the car is actually in front of you! Because you have to alter the way you drive and think about what you’re doing with the car, it takes away from having a truly satisfying driving experience.
And because you’re unable to enjoy the test drive much, you forget about buying the Viper and take your $100K+ elsewhere.
But, then again, the Viper doesn’t belong on the streets at all. Where it really shines is at the track.
How do I know this?
Because James, co-founder of Longhorn Racing Academy, gave me a shot at driving this at Harris Hill.
The Track Experience
First, James showed me what the car can do because he has been doing this for a while and has mastered not only the Viper but knows the Harris Hill course inside out.
While he was thrashing the car around on the track, I was getting tossed around left and right in the car – the regular seat belt barely held me in place. My neck started to hurt with trying to keep myself in one place counteracting all the G-forces inside the Viper’s small cockpit. It was rough but so fantastic.
This race track experience was more thrilling than any roller coaster I’ve been on and this was the closest thing to a race car that I’ve experienced.
Even when Michael in his R8 took me out, the Audi just didn’t compare to what this Viper can do in James’ capable hands.
I just wish I had the same skills that he did, because when I found myself in his Viper tackling all the turns, all I was thinking was “Please don’t crash”, “Please don’t crash”, “Please don’t crash”…
Luckily I didn’t crash.
Fortunately there wasn’t much to crash into – no barriers to hit – just lots of grassy fields surrounding the track.
I found that just driving the car in 3rd and 4th gears were enough for me to enjoy the track experience. With a 640 hp beast, you really don’t have to push the car anywhere near its limits to enjoy a little of what it has to offer; there’s plenty of speed and torque at all ranges of the power curve for anyone to have an amazing time.
And besides, I wasn’t out there to prove anything to anyone – just wanted to feel a little bit of what the car could do.
And I experienced just that.
This Viper is so much more refined than previous generation Vipers and when you’re driving it you’re always fearful of it because the capabilities of this car far exceed what a regular person could handle. This is one snake that makes you respect it because unless you do you’ll be in big trouble.
After being out on the track with the Viper, both with James and driving myself, I can say that I walked away with an appreciation I didn’t have before.
And this is exactly what ends up happening with people interested in the Viper. A normal test drive with the Viper will leave you completely underwhelmed because all you will really find with it are the flaws and how tricky it is to drive. Until you actually hit the track you’ll never really understand.