The numbers are simply staggering: 500 horsepower, 525 pound-feet of torque and 505 cubic inches all crammed into a two-seater convertible weighing just 3450 pounds. Unsurprisingly, the Dodge Viper SRT-10 is rather rapid: 0-60 takes less than 4.0 seconds, top speed is somewhere around 190 mph and 0-100-0 takes 12 seconds dead flat. It’s a seriously fast car and about as dramatic a driving experience as you can imagine with its brusque V-10 barking away under that long, long hood.
But to date it’s only been available as a ragtop, which means you could never take one onto a track, compete in an autocross or bring your Viper to an open-road race, so you really never got to enjoy all that performance properly.
DaimlerChrysler quietly concedes that since the launch of the new Viper three years ago, customers have been constantly inquiring on the whereabouts of the hardtop version, and with the launch of new 505-hp Corvette Z06 and pending arrival of the 500+hp Shelby Mustang, it was clear that customers would soon be going elsewhere if Dodge didn’t come up with the goods.
Shaping up nicely
What they came up with was an attractive and well-executed, if predictable, package. The double-bubble roof design has been resurrected not just because it looks cool but also to allow room for helmet-wearing occupants. The rear haunches are have been beefed up to give the Coupe a more aggressive stance while Dodge has added a delightful, Kamm-tail spoiler to improve aerodynamics while retaining the look of the original Viper GTS.
The wraparound rear light clusters and overlapping rear fenders differentiate the Coupe and convertible models further, while the rear air diffuser not only looks sharp, it also does its bit to increase downforce at track speeds. Charging down the main straight at Willow Springs in California the Viper touches 140 mph before you lean hard on the anchors for turn one, but where the convertible could get a little skittish and twitchy the Coupe grips harder and feels more stable and composed. Because the two Vipers are mechanically identical, it’s clear that the Coupe’s aerodynamics have a real impact on the car’s high-speed behavior.