2008 Dodge Viper SRT Review

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The Car Connection Expert Review

Marty Padgett Marty Padgett Editorial Director
July 23, 2008

The 2008 Dodge Viper is a stunning performer, a great-looking sportscar in any body form, and still a handful on public roads.

TheCarConnection.com's sportscar experts researched all the latest road tests on the new 2008 Dodge Viper SRT10 to compile this conclusive review. Experts from TheCarConnection.com have driven the Dodge Viper including the roadster, coupe, and ACR models, and can offer details and opinions that will help you decide if the Dodge Viper is the right car for you.

The 2008 Dodge Viper, Chrysler's brash V-10-powered sportscar, is significantly more venomous for '08. The underlying look inside and out is familiar, but the big changes are under the hood, where the V-10 engine has been pushed out to a super-sized 8.4 liters, for 600 horsepower and 560 pound-feet of torque and a 0-60-mph time of well under 4 seconds.

To match the engine improvements, the 2008 Dodge Viper gets a new six-speed manual with a wider range of ratios, improved synchros, and reduced shift-knob travel. In addition, the Dana rear axle picks up a new speed-sensing, limited-slip differential for better traction.

While the gearbox feels stiff and somewhat clunky on the street, the effort is just right when you're powershifting at the drag strip or quickly downshifting into a corner at a road course. The ratios of the gearbox are also tall, meaning that when you're driving around your neighborhood, you'll probably be in second gear as opposed to trolling streets in fourth as you might in more mundane cars. This highway-type gear helps the 2008 Dodge Viper achieve its 200-mph-plus top speed.

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Thanks to Brembo dual opposing-piston calipers front and back, the 2008 Dodge Viper can now brake from 60 mph to a stop in less than 100 feet, and go from zero to 100 and back to zero in just over 12 seconds.

On the street, the Viper's suspension feels stiff and bouncy, but at the track, these settings enable the chassis to put all of the Viper's power to the pavement.

Changes to the Viper's outward appearance are minor overall, but in front the '08's differences are most pronounced, with a hood that's been redesigned with a larger scoop for better induction and aggressive-looking louvers for improved cooling.

Previously, Vipers came in little more than basic-black inside, with a kit-car feel brought on by parts-bin components and nonmatching surfaces. The '07 Viper was a big step up in civility, but for 2008, the Dodge Viper advances further with more than a few interior choices. It will be available in five different interior colors and a choice of bezel finishes, along with other customization options.

Assembly continues at the Chrysler Group's Conner Avenue assembly plant, appropriately located in the heart of Detroit. The plant builds three versions of the 2008 Dodge Viper SRT10: a convertible roadster, a coupe, and a fully track-ready ACR Coupe edition that is race prepared.

The Porsche 911 Turbo is an amazing vehicle and considerably more expensive than the 2008 Dodge Viper. The personalities of these two vehicles are so different that we can't imagine a buyer ever making a choice between the two.

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2008 Dodge Viper SRT

Styling

When it comes to fiercely aggressive styling, few cars can match the 2008 Dodge Viper.

Few cars on the road today have the presence or sheer sinister look of the 2008 Dodge Viper, and the Dodge Viper 2008 ACR package kicks the styling further over the top.

For 2008, Edmunds says that "the 2008 Dodge Viper SRT-10 is available as either a two-seat coupe or a soft-top roadster," On the regular Dodge Viper 2008 coupe and convertible, Cars.com notes that "some observers dismiss the Viper's styling as the stuff of grade-school boys' daydreams," but reviews read by TheCarConnection.com agree that the styling is perfectly suited to the Dodge Viper. Kelley Blue Book writes that the 2008 Dodge Viper's "more angular front end is highlighted by a large, functional air-intake scoop," and "also on the hood are a half-dozen vents that let air out of the engine compartment."

Motor Trend adds that the SRT team’s engineers "have taken the already super snake up another notch in the form of the 2008 Viper SRT10 ACR (American Club Racer)." The 2008 Dodge Viper ACR adds "a number of aero elements" that "have been designed for the ACR in an effort to maximize downforce," according to Motor Trend. They say that these aero elements include "front 'dive planes' on either side of the front fascia, a variable geometry 'fanged' front spoiler," and an "adjustable rear wing."

In past years, Vipers came in little more than basic-black inside, with a kit-car feel brought on by parts-bin components and nonmatching surfaces. The '07 Viper was a big step up in civility, but for 2008, the Dodge Viper advances further with more than a few interior choices. It’s available in five different interior colors and a choice of bezel finishes, along with other customization options.

Some reviewers find fault with the layout, though. ConsumerGuide notes that "the speedometer and fuel gauge can suffer sunlight reflections, rendering them hard to read," while Kelley Blue Book thinks that "SRT overdid its self-proclaimed race-inspired image with the 2008 SRT10's large, center-mounted tachometer." Kelley Blue Book adds "the oil-pressure, oil-temperature and water-temperature gauges are hidden behind the steering wheel." On the positive side, reviewers at The Detroit News feel that the Dodge Viper's interior is "much cleaner and better made than the previous model," and write that "it's more refined."

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2008 Dodge Viper SRT

Performance

The 2008 Dodge Viper is one of the fastest and most capable street-legal racers on the planet.

The 2008 Dodge Viper was designed with one thing in mind: performance. With the Dodge Viper, Dodge engineers have succeeded in creating a sportscar with uncompromised performance.

For the Dodge Viper, 2008 brings a new and obscenely powerful "8.4-liter V10 that sends no less than 600 hp to the Viper's steamroller rear tires," according to Edmunds. Reviews read by TheCarConnection.com are unanimously impressed by the strength of the V-10 in the Dodge Viper. Car and Driver writes that the coupe they tested is "monstrously fast from a standing start, blasting to 60 mph in 3.5 seconds and to 100 mph in 7.6 seconds." The convertible is also amazingly quick, with Car and Driver finding that it "managed 197 in Dodge's testing with the top down, which is pretty impressive." ConsumerGuide calls the acceleration on the Dodge Viper "explosive, even at part-throttle, and from modest rpm."

The only available transmission on the 2008 Dodge Viper is a "six-speed Tremec manual transmission" paired with "a twin-plate clutch" that Car and Driver says is "an industry first." Reviewers are equally impressed with the Dodge Viper 2008's transmission, and Cars.com writes that the "much shorter throws and clearly defined gates" make the Dodge Viper "a pleasure to operate." ConsumerGuide adds that the "clutch and gearshift demand deliberate action but are not taxing."

Previous versions of the Dodge Viper were notorious for their dismal fuel economy, but the Dodge Viper 2008 edition isn't quite as thirsty as its predecessors. The EPA estimates that the big V-10 will get 13 mpg in city driving and an impressive 22 mpg on the highway, when it can cruise along in higher gears with little effort. Cars.com writes that the fuel economy is "not great, but an improvement over the previous generation's 11/19 mpg."

Another area where older Dodge Vipers were criticized was handling, as they could be quite squirrelly when driven hard. Once again, Dodge has taken steps to address this, though Cars.com says that it's still easy to "go sideways at every opportunity, in almost any gear, sometimes even when going straight." Reviewers at The Detroit News appreciate the improvements, finding that "the Viper sticks to the road and handles remarkably better than the 2006 model it replaces," thanks to the "fully independent four-wheel suspension, as well as the new extra wide Michelin Pilot Sport PS2 high-performance tires." Those tires offer tremendous grip and, when combined with the "massive four-wheel antilock disc brakes," can stop the car "from 60 mph in just 104 feet," according to Edmunds. On the 2008 Dodge Viper ACR, Motor Trend writes that the "brakes are upgraded as well, with slotted two-piece StopTech 14-inch rotors providing enough stopping power to bring the Viper ACR to a halt from 60 mph in less than 100 feet." On the ride side, Kelley Blue Book says that Dodge Viper "engineers have notably improved ride comfort," and while "still harsher than an average sedan, the Viper's ride is now comparable with the Corvette Z06."

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2008 Dodge Viper SRT

Comfort & Quality

Comfort and quality are on the way up, but the 2008 Dodge Viper still emphasizes performance over all else.

Passenger comfort and frivolous things like materials quality have always come far down on the Dodge Viper's priority list, as performance takes up all of the top spots. However, for the Dodge Viper, 2008 brings a concerted effort to improve the overall quality of its supercar.

The 2008 Dodge Viper offers space for two occupants inside what Edmunds calls "a small cockpit." ConsumerGuide says that the "cabin is cramped for tall occupants," but Kelley Blue Book appreciates that the Dodge Viper's bubble roof means "even when the driver is wearing a helmet the Coupe still offers plenty of headroom." Reviews read by TheCarConnection.com offer mixed opinions of the bucket seats in the Dodge Viper 2008. Car and Driver describes them as "plain annoying, being too heavily bolstered and too long under your thighs," while other reviewers, such as those at The Detroit News, disagree, saying "you'll feel your body conform to the racing seat" and claiming "its bolsters hold you snugly in a friendly embrace." With such highly supportive and engineered seats, comfort varies significantly from person to person depending on body size. One noteworthy change for those familiar with previous Dodge Vipers is mentioned by The Detroit News, which says that the exhaust pipes have been improved, and whereas on the previous version, the doorsill got so hot that "you wondered whether you were going to burn yourself," the 2008 Dodge Viper is only "toasty warm," as opposed to "grilling temperature."

Interior space and overall storage on the 2008 Dodge Viper is decent, and ConsumerGuide rates the cargo room as slightly below the class average. They write "a few soft bags fit in the convertible's trunk," but "cabin storage is limited to a small center console and dashboard glovebox." Cars.com reviewers find that after a week with the Dodge Viper convertible, they longed for a cup holder, but they also write that the "trunk isn't bad at all; it's large enough for golf clubs."

Materials and assembly quality on the Dodge Viper 2008 are below average, but improved over previous versions. Edmunds says that the "cockpit is still rather blasé for a car whose price comes very close to $90K." ConsumerGuide adds that the Dodge Viper features "rich upholstery," but the "cabin's only relief from hard matte plastic and textured vinyl are some metal trim pieces." Reviewers at The Detroit News agree, claiming that although the interior is "more refined," there's "still room for improvement," and "when a car costs $85,000, its interior should reflect $85,000."

Another major drawback to the 2008 Dodge Viper is that it makes for an incredibly noisy ride. ConsumerGuide writes that "wind and road noise are always present," and "even mild throttle application triggers an intrusive roar from the side exhaust outlets." While many enthusiasts appreciate a loud, powerful exhaust note, Car and Driver says that the Dodge Viper's "trails those of Ferraris, Porsches, Lamborghinis, and Z06s in aural excitement."

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2008 Dodge Viper SRT

Safety

Though there's no crash-test data or real safety features to speak of, the 2008 Dodge Viper at least can stop in a hurry if you see an obstacle ahead.

If safety is one of your chief concerns--or any sort of concern at all--when shopping for a sportscar, the 2008 Dodge Viper is probably not for you. The Dodge Viper 2008 offers hardly anything in the way of safety features, and it doesn't have any crash-test data to rely on either, thanks to its low production volumes.

Neither the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) nor the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS)--the two main crash-test authorities in the United States--have had an opportunity to test the 2008 Dodge Viper due to its high price tag and limited production run. In the absence of hard crash-test data, prospective Dodge Viper buyers will have to rely on the race-inspired engineering of the 2008 Dodge Viper to keep them safe in the event of an accident.

In most other vehicles that don't offer crash-test ratings, the list of safety features provides some degree of comfort, but that's not the case in the Dodge Viper 2008 edition. Reviews read by TheCarConnection.com show that the Dodge Viper makes available very little in the way of safety tech. Cars.com summarizes the safety amenities on the Dodge Viper 2008 by writing that "available safety features include all-disc antilock Brembo brakes and adjustable pedals"--covering all the safety features they found in one sentence. ConsumerGuide does add that "dual front airbags" come standard, but Edmunds notes that "no stability control or side airbags" are included. The 2008 Dodge Viper ACR is even scarier, and Car and Driver reports that the owner's manual advises that drivers "complete a high-performance driving school prior to operating this vehicle."

Another aspect of the 2008 Dodge Viper that hurts overall safety is driver visibility, which Cars.com says is hindered by the fact that "the trunklid, head restraints and roll bars are pretty high" in the convertible, "so it's tough to see behind you by turning your head," but reviewers there find it is "workable through prodigious use of the rearview mirrors." The poor visibility is also one of the reasons that many reviewers, such as those at Edmunds, find that the Viper is "not comfortable enough to be used as a daily driver."

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2008 Dodge Viper SRT

Features

Features just add weight on a purebred race car like the 2008 Dodge Viper, so Dodge has done away with many of them.

Apparently Dodge has decided that 600 horsepower and insanely aggressive styling are features enough for the 2008 Dodge Viper, because the Dodge Viper offers little else in the way of creature comforts and luxuries.

The 2008 Dodge Viper comes with few standard features, and Edmunds finds that it "makes no apologies for its lack of key luxury and safety features." This sentiment pervades reviews read by TheCarConnection.com, as Cars.com reviewers feel that the Dodge Viper 2008 "seems to say, 'if you disapprove, buy something else.'" When it comes to the standard available features, Edmunds lists "power-adjustable pedals, full power accessories, a tilt steering wheel, keyless entry and a seven-speaker, 300-watt audio system with a six-disc CD changer." The 2008 Dodge Viper ACR offers similar standard features.

The options list on the Dodge Viper 2008 is minimal and even includes the choice of stripping some features from the Dodge Viper ACR. Motor Trend writes that "40 pounds can be removed by opting for the 'Hard Core' package, which deletes the audio system" and "underhood silencer pad, trunk carpet, and tire inflator" on the Dodge Viper ACR, making for an even quicker and more formidable racer. Standard 2008 Dodge Vipers feature the option of "a navigation system combined with SIRIUS Satellite Radio," according to Kelley Blue Book. ConsumerGuide says that various trims and color packages are available on the Dodge Viper 2008, including a $3,000 Dual Stripes option.

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7.6
Overall
Expert Rating
Rating breakdown on a scale of 1 to 10?
Styling 10.0
Performance 10.0
Comfort & Quality 6.0
Safety 6.0
Features 6.0
Fuel Economy N/A
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