Last Wednesday, seated in the ballroom of Hotel Conrad on Sheikh Zayed Road, I watched a dream slither back on to the tarmac of race-hungry minds. At the end of an almost psychedelic dance of serpentine patterns and glimmering hints of light revealing its sinuous frame, the Viper stood naked in stark orange, and it was several minutes before the first admirer dared to approach its svelte and simmering presence.
It’s hard to hold your gaze with the new SRT Viper GTS. Those headlamps were the most telling signs of the speedster’s name, exemplified in the graphic eyes of the iconic serpent seething its forked tongue at me from the ballroom displays. Right now, I can only guess how hard it will be to hold pace with the venomous SRT engine of the new Viper GTS, with a daunting 8.4 L naturally aspirated engine – spitting out numbers menacing enough to hold most rivals or novice aspirants at bay.
The fifth generation of Viper, the iconic American-built supercar thus made its return to the streets and tracks of the Middle East as the Street and Racing Technology (SRT®) brand’s flagship performance machine with more power, superior craftsmanship, new technologies and creature comforts. “Made in Detroit”, a presentation slide proudly proclaimed its legacy of American craftsmanship and primitive hunger for performance.
“The Street and Racing Technology brand team, led by Ralph Gilles, is extremely proud that our hand-built-in-Detroit, flagship supercar is back and ready to take on the performance-car world,” said Jack Rodencal, Managing Director of Chrysler Group Middle East.
Highest torque for a naturally aspirated engine
The SRT® Viper GTS has a handcrafted, all-aluminium 8.4-litre, mid-front V-10 overhead-valve engine that generates a humongous 640 hp and a 600 lb ft (814 Nm) of torque. The all-new SRT® Viper GTS has a coefficient of drag (Cd) of .369 and delivers a top speed of 331 kmh and margins out the 100 kmh speed from start in the low 3-second range. Quarter-mile (0.4 km) takes just above 11-seconds, 0-160-0 kmh time is less than 12 seconds and braking distance from 100-0 kmh is 30.48 m.
Improvements of the V10 for 2013 include an ultra-high-flow, lightweight composite intake manifold; high-strength, forged pistons; sodium-filled exhaust valves; new catalysts to ease backpressure and an aluminum flywheel that reduces reciprocating losses. The engine has been dressed down by almost 25 pounds (11.34 kgs).
The Tremec TR6060 six-speed manual transmission has been improved with closer gear ratios and a final drive ratio that has been shortened to 3.55 from 3.07. The shifter throw also is shorter, making the latest SRT Viper GTS a more engaging machine. Top speed of 331 kmh is now achieved through 6th gear with maximum engine speed (redline) at 6,200 rpm, says the Viper Press Release.
Best ever ride, and handling capability
The new car has 50% more torsional rigidity thanks to a stiffer chassis as well as a new aluminium x-brace under the hood that ties the suspension pickup points to the magnesium cowl super casting. A new aluminium impact beam at the front of the car contributes to overall mass savings and improved weight distribution, while providing excellent crashworthiness. There has been a weight saving of approx 100 pounds or 45 kg. One can enhance the Viper experience with an additional Track Package that slices 26 kgs from the vehicle’s kerb weight.
The re-engineered rear suspension with the toe link moved forward of the axle allows for better tow control and dynamic stability. A new, driver-selectable two-mode suspension system, featuring Bilstein DampTronic Select shock absorbers with both street and track settings, is standard on the SRT® Viper GTS. The SRT® Viper GTS comes with a steering-wheel-mounted launch-control switch, allowing for optimal acceleration from standing starts.
Four-piston Brembo brakes with fixed-aluminium calipers and vented rotors with a diameter of 355 mm by 32 mm with forged brake calipers guard each corner. The Detroit team claims this largely eliminates heat distortion even under the most demanding braking conditions.
Space and technology in the cabin
The new SRT® Viper GTS is the most spacious model in its history. Seating positions are 20 mm lower, seat travel is extended by 90mm overall, and now seat height can be power-adjusted by up to 40 mm.
A 7-inch (177.8 mm), full-colour, customisable instrument cluster – with full-time analog tachometer that alerts the driver to upshift upon approaching the redline – has been designed specifically for the SRT® Viper GTS. The 8.4-inch (213.36 mm) Uconnect® radio doubles as a display for SRT® Performance Pages content. Touchscreen buttons along the bottom of the screen enable easy access to the radio, climate controls, navigation and blue-tooth enabled phone. Breakthrough voice-text capability is enabled via voice command.
For the first time, the SRT® Viper GTS has LED tail-lamps It integrate stop-and-turn illumination in one element. With 50 LEDs each, they provide a unified “crystallised” illumination effect.
Split six-spoke forged-aluminum “Venom” wheels are available with three finishes, while the SRT® Track Package have ultra-lightweight, track-ready wheels in Hyper Black or Matte Black. Eight exterior colours are offered on the SRT® Viper GTS including: Adrenaline Red, Venom Black, Bright White, Gunmetal Pearl, Race Yellow, Shadow Blue Pearl, Stryker Red Tri-Coat Pearl and GTS Blue. Two distinctive body stripe configurations are offered in Black Venom, Billet Silver and Gunmetal Pearl.