2015 Dodge Viper SRT Review

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Nelson Ireson Nelson Ireson Senior Editor
June 19, 2015

The 2015 Viper returns to the Dodge fold and includes incremental updates to its old big-engine, rear-drive formula.

The Dodge Viper once had a bad-boy reputation as less controllable than sports cars like the 911 and Corvette, but in its current form the Viper's become almost genteel. Low, long, and covered in muscular bulges and threatening vents, the Viper telegraphs its supercar intentions. Inside, the cabin is now more refined and luxurious, with available leather and tech packages pushing it fully into the 21st century.

The Viper has had a circuitous journey through the now-defunct SRT brand and back to its home at Dodge again, but along the way, it has only gotten better—and less expensive. If you’re a V-10 mega-sportscar fan, there’s hardly ever been a better time to get in on the action. In fact, it's never been friendlier, either.

Updates for the 2015 model year include a 5-hp bump for the 8.4-liter V-10, a different sixth-gear ratio for upper trim levels, a new GT model to slot between base and GTS Vipers, a Viper TA 2.0 Special Edition model, and several new colors.

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Under the hood of the Viper you'll find just one engine, no matter the trim: an 8.4-liter V-10 that drives the rear wheels. It now makes 645 hp (up 5) and the same 600 pound-feet of torque. Chrysler says it delivers the most torque of any normally aspirated sports car engine in the world, and the performance reflects that: 0-60 mph runs come in the low-three-second range; quarter-miles fly by in the low 11s; 0-100-0 mph takes less than 12 seconds; top speed is 206 mph. You can have any transmission you want, as long as it's the standard six-speed manual.

The supercar game is not all about straight-line performance, however, and the Viper shines when it's time to turn, too. The latest Viper generation is the first to be equipped with stability and traction control, and fortunately, they're not the fun-killing systems of old. In fact, even in full-on mode, the system allows for yaw and slip angles suitable to spirited track-day antics. All Vipers get three stability-control modes (on, off, and rain), while the GTS model adds a pair of intermediate steps, with Sport and Track modes, which loosen the restrictions but keep a safety net. Even with everything fully off, however, the Viper is nearly balanced, transitioning from entry to apex to exit with massive grip and surprising feel through the steering wheel and the seat-bottom. There's always the threat of the rear coming around when you come onto the gas too hard, but as a training tool, the mortal fear of 600 pound-feet of torque is unmatched. 

The Viper's cabin is surprisingly roomy for such a low-slung, coupe. Dodge claims drivers up to 6'7" should fit within its confines. There's plenty of head and leg room for most drivers, and the seats are both comfortable and adjustable. The steering wheel and pedals also move to get the best possible fit. You'll want as much physical comfort in the Viper as possible, as it's a very noisy place to be, even cruising at low engine speeds on a smooth country road. The ride quality is fair in base models, a bit better with the adjustable dampers, but never really objectionable for a sports car. Cargo space is fair, at 14.65 cubic feet, but the odd shape under the rear hatch means soft-sided bags will be the best bet for longer trips.

Differences between the Viper SRT and Viper GTS are primarily in equipment: the GTS gets a two-mode suspension system with Bilstein DampTronic Select dampers and the aforementioned extra stability-control parameters. The Viper SRT is the more minimalist take on extreme performance, while the GTS offers an extra degree of luxury and refinement in the cabin as well as its upgraded suspension system and electronic controls. The new-for-2015 GT model splits the difference, with a price to match, and adds the GTS's Bilstein setup, the five-mode stability system, and a unique leather-and-Alcantara interior on top of the base model's equipment.

Expensive, low-volume sports cars are often skipped in the crash-testing cycle by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS); the 2015 Dodge Viper is no exception. Despite the lack of crash tests, the Viper should prove as safe as most modern coupes in an accident, with a full suite of air bags, anti-lock brakes, stability and traction control, and pre-tensioning seat belts all standard. A backup camera is available on base models, and standard on GTS models.

Gas mileage, as you might expect, isn't one of the Viper's primary concerns. That said, there's a slight increase for 2015. Trasnmission refinements and the new engine calibration helped eke out a small improvement in highway mileage; the 2015 car gets 12 mpg city and 20 highway, up from 12/19 last year.

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2015 Dodge Viper SRT

Styling

The 2015 Dodge Viper is aggressive, bold, and in-your-face--not everyone will like it, but some will love it.

Now two decades removed from the original, the Viper still wears a pretty unmistakable shape. It was originally conceived as a modern interpretation of the Shelby Cobra, and many of those cues remain today.

Swollen fenders mark the boundaries of the swooping, curving, vented shape. A long, low hood and slightly bulbous canopy give the 2015 Viper classic proportions, but the details are all 21st-Century stuff, inspired by racing, and the nameplate's own racing history.

Inside, the aesthetics have seen a major upgrade from the previous-generation Viper. In GT and GTS models, Nappa leather and Alcantara inserts give a luxurious look, while metal-finish trim, available carbon fiber accents, and the more modern, but still race-inspired shape of the cabin work together to elevate the Viper from its former just-above-kit-car status into the realms of the attractive, if not quite the beautiful.

Two new colors are available for 2015--Stryker Purple for GT and GTS models, and Yorange for the base car. There's also a new GTS Ceramic Blue Edition Package, which includes unique Ceramic Blue paint with black stripes, five-spoke “Rattler” wheels finished in Black Vapor Chrome, a GTS sill badge, orange brake calipers, carbon-fiber brake ducts, and a host of interior touches, including an Alcantara headliner. Only 40 examples will be available.

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2015 Dodge Viper SRT

Performance

The 2015 Dodge Viper is incredibly fast, balanced, and far friendlier than the first four generations of the car.

There's only one powertrain configuration available in the Viper: a chunky six-speed manual transmission paired to an 8.4-liter V-10 engine. For 2015, the Viper engine gets a small (5-hp) power bump to 645 horsepower, while torque stands pat at 600 pound-feet, the most torque of any production normally aspirated sports car engine in the world.

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. 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. 

If treated with proper respect, the Viper is balanced and surprisingly easy to drive with the electronic driver aids enabled, though a bit hairy at the limit, like it should be. 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.

There are four packages, each with their own level of performance: the base Viper SRT, the Viper GT, the Viper GTS, and the Viper TA 2.0. 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. The standard setup is very fun to drive, less expensive, and just as quick on most tracks.

The Viper TA package, which returns for 2015 in version 2.0, may change that calculus, however, with a host of track-optimized features and equipment, including upgraded Brembo brakes to replace StopTech units on the standard car, an aerodynamic package that creates big downforce, retuned two-mode dampers, upgraded springs and anti-roll bars, and a carbon fiber X-brace in place of the standard aluminum unit.

For 2015, the Viper GT and GTS get a different sixth-gear ratio for reduced engine revs and noise when cruising at highway speed. 

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2015 Dodge Viper SRT

Comfort & Quality

The 2015 Dodge Viper's cabin is comfortable and features nice materials, but remains loud.

The Viper's crudeness always extended into the cabin, which was a hot, plasticky place for the first few generations. As the car has aged and matured, and competitors have done the same, the need for a real interior with available luxuries became real, especially since this is the most expensive Chrysler product by far. With this latest generation, the Viper interior finally got the attention it deserved.

The cabin of the 2015 SRT Viper is well-designed, well-upholstered, and quite comfortable, considering the Viper's rather hardcore focus on performance. Seats look like they're straight out of a Ferrari (because they're made by the same supplier), the materials are universally upgraded, and the design is modern, if still a bit minimalist. Adjustment is good, and the steering wheel and pedals both move to accommodate different-sized drivers. The massive touchscreen interface in the center stack looks and feels as high-tech as it is high-res.

In GT and GTS models, the luxury factor can be increased significantly, with Nappa leather and carbon-fiber accents available. Whichever trim line you choose, the Viper's cabin remains a purpose-built affair: small, cocoon-like, and low to the ground. There's a fair bit of road, wind, and engine noise, even at lower speeds; it becomes a roar at highway pace. Thankfully, a new sixth-gear ratio for 2015 GT and GTS models promises to at least reduce engine noise when cruising.

Storage space around the cabin is limited, though there are several small bins and cubbies. The cargo area under the hatch is almost sedan-sized at 14 cubic feet, but its irregular shape means soft luggage is the best choice for trips.

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2015 Dodge Viper SRT

Safety

The 2015 Dodge Viper hasn't been crash tested by agencies, but its nimble nature and standard safety features enhance confidence.

The 2015 Dodge Viper hasn't been crash-tested by either of the nationally recognized safety agencies. Both the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) tend to skip low-volume expensive cars such as the Viper, so it doesn't necessarily mean the car is unsafe.

The Viper's massive power output and delicate limit handling have contributed to a reputation of it being a difficult car to drive, but the latest model is much friendlier than previous generations thanks to electronic stability control. Very capable brakes, especially on TA models, help slow or stop the Viper in emergencies, and it stellar handling can be a boon for evasive maneuvers. Driver and passenger multi-stage airbags are standard, but side and curtain airbags aren't available. All Vipers also come with a one-day track-driving experience, a kind of high-performance boot camp, which Dodge lists as a safety feature.

A rearview camera comes standard on all Viper models, which partly makes up for the compromised rearward visibility.

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2015 Dodge Viper SRT

Features

The 2015 Dodge Viper offers Uconnect infotainment and much more--this isn't the stripped-down race car of decades past.

There was a time, not too long ago, when all you chose on your Viper was the color and whether or not you wanted stripes. It was either that or wait for a special-edition appearance model. Those are still options today, but now modern infotainment, additional performance equipment, and luxury interior items are available as well.

All Vipers include Chrysler's 8.4-inch Uconnect touchscreen infotainment system, available in two flavors. The base Uconnect Media Center system includes Bluetooth phone and streaming audio; SiriusXM Radio; embedded cellular connection; and a rear backup camera display, as well as being navigation-ready. The premium version of the system adds navigation; traffic information; 3D maps; voice destination entry; HD radio; and more. A standard media hub gives all Vipers access to USB devices, SD cards, and an auxiliary input. The standard Harman/Kardon stereo has ten speakers and two subwoofers. A high-speed data connection allows for cloud-based voice recognition, web connectivity through Yelp and other apps, and stolen vehicle tracking services.

Differences between the Viper SRT and Viper GTS are primarily in equipment: the GTS gets a two-mode suspension system with Bilstein DampTronic Select dampers and the extra stability-control parameters. The Viper SRT is the more minimalist take on extreme performance, while the GTS offers an extra degree of luxury and refinement in the cabin as well as its upgraded suspension system and electronic controls. The GT model is new for 2015 and splits the difference, with a price to match, adding the GTS's Bilstein setup, the five-mode stability system, and a unique leather-and-Alcantara interior on top of the base model's equipment.

A higher-end Harman/Kardon surround sound system is available, bringing with it seven channels of audio through 18 speakers, including four subwoofers, all plumbed to its own power supply.

SiriusXM Travel Link, available with the premium Uconnect system, brings live traffic, accident, and other commuter information to the car.

All Vipers get a seven-inch full-color, customizable instrument cluster, allowing different performance metrics or gauges to be displayed at the driver's preference. The system can also measure and display various performance stats, including 0-60-mph runs, quarter-mile times, braking distance, g-force measurements, and top speed runs.

The base seats are a nylon/vinyl combo, while Nappa leather (with or without Alcantara inserts) is available on the higher trims.

A range of optional wheel styles, interior materials, and exterior color schemes is available for each trim package, too. Carbon-fiber interior and exterior accents are available in a range of packages offered on GT and GTS models; the Laguna Interior (with Laguna premium leather) and Ceramic Blue Special Edition packages can only be ordered on GTS models; and the Advanced Dynamics Package, with its carbon front-corner splitters and rear spoiler, is available on all three trim levels. And, as always, there is a variety of stripe packages to help make that rare Viper truly personalized. We'd still probably go with the very unoriginal blue with white stripes.

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2015 Dodge Viper SRT

Fuel Economy

Guzzling gas like it's going out of style, the 2015 Dodge Viper is no green machine.

Let's face it: No matter what color you paint it, the Viper just isn't green. 

For 2015, however, it's slightly less un-green, gaining 1 highway mpg as a result of powertrain and transmission tweaks. The single available powertrain (six-speed manual transmission with 8.4-liter V-10 engine) now returns 12 mpg city, 21 highway, and 15 mpg combined.

That's about what you'd expect of a 645-horsepower car, but recent additions to the sports car fold have managed considerably better gas mileage, albeit at lower power levels, including the Chevrolet Corvette Stingray, which uses technologies like cylinder deactivation and direct injection to help its V-8 save some fuel.

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