Unlike many of the SRT Viper's rivals, there's only one powertrain configuration available: a chunky six-speed manual transmission paired to an 8.4-liter V-10 engine rated at 640 horsepower and 600 pound-feet of torque.
That massive output figure includes the most torque of any production normally aspirated sports car engine in the world.
And it's really tremendous power that makes the Viper tick. It's balanced, surprisingly easy to drive with the (new for last year) electronic aids enabled, though a bit twitchy at the limit. The Viper has massive grip, whether turning, braking, or accelerating. For the suitably fearless driver, there's plenty to love about the Viper's complete package.
But it's power that sets the Viper apart, that makes its fans smile, its admirers drool, and its rivals flinch. Unleashing the full fury of the big 8.4-liter V-10 is a special experience.
To get the most out of the engine, however, you'll have to rev it hard--there's surprisingly little low-end punch to the meaty V-10, the engine's tune being tilted substantially toward the top-end.
Fortunately, that makes the Viper a touch more tractable around town, where you might not want an instantaneous 600 pound-feet of torque surging through the wheels as you navigate a roundabout.
There are three packages that make a marked impact on performance: the base SRT Viper, the Viper GTS, and the new-for-2014 Viper TA. The base model was our previous pick for hardcore track duty, as it eschews the extra luxuries of the GTS model, as well as the two-mode adjustable suspension for a standard setup that's very fun to drive, less expensive, and just as quick.
The new Viper TA may change that calculus, however, with a host of new track-optimized features and equipment, including upgraded Brembo brakes, retuned two-mode dampers (with more track-appropriate settings), upgraded springs and anti-roll bars, and a new carbon fiber X-brace in place of the standard aluminum unit.