Chrysler Viper | Auto Express

25 Mar 2015 | Author: | Comments Off on Chrysler Viper | Auto Express

Chrysler Viper


The all-American muscle car might have softened up, but it still hasn#039;t lost its raw-edged appeal. The 2003 model year Viper is more user-friendly and comfortable than the sensational original, but it still has traffic-stopping looks and delivers incredible performance and a thrilling driving experience. If it wasn#039;t for the huge price tag, TVR should start to feel worried.

The Viper has always been the Mr Universe of muscle cars, so some of the words being used to describe the new version seem more than a little odd. Refined. quieter. user-friendly? The old Viper would have laughed in its face.

So can the newcomer still hold its head up high in the supercar locker room? The figures are certainly something to boast about. After all, 500bhp, 678Nm of torque and 8.3 litres of all-aluminium V10 up front suggest that this latest Viper is no snake in the grass.

However, the cabin is a lot more accommodating than before and even has a cup-holder, while the original model’s fierce and slippery lines are replaced by smoother, less ostentatious curves. It’s still a brutal beast, though. Herb Helbig, the man behind the Viper, says the brief was to create a car that would rip chunks out of tarmac, and the new version appears capable of delivering that promise.

Its sporting pretensions are evident as soon as you jump in the cabin. Eye-catching features include a big starter button on the centre console, plus a chunky gearlever topped with a knob the size of a tennis ball.

The seats are a tight fit for larger drivers, but are incredibly supportive and comfortable at speed. The roof is slightly higher, yet tall drivers will still find themselves looking at the windscreen’s frame. Dashboard layout is acceptable, featuring console-mounted gauges angled towards the driver, and a massive rev counter which dominates the instrument binnacle.

Chrysler Viper

The pedals are closely spaced like the previous model’s, but there is now a footrest to the left of the clutch to make cruising more comfortable. Other ‘softie’ features include climate control and a CD autochanger.

Fire up the engine and there’s no mistaking the Viper’s distinctive mating call. The V10 howls as though it’s on an operating table without anaesthetic. Plant the throttle and it roars in protest, before leaving thick streaks of expensive rubber behind on the road.

That doesn’t mean it’s as much of a handful to drive. though. You wouldn’t want your grandma to take it out in the snow, but through bends the Viper snakes along happily with reassuringly firm handling, accurate but heavy steering and powerful brakes, while the enormous 345-section, 19-inch rear tyres have masses of grip. There’s little body roll, and the six-speed manual gearbox, shared with the Aston Martin DB7, is easy to use.

In reality, you can leave it in third and rely on the V10’s torque in most situations.

At the limit, however, the car still commands respect. Lift off mid-bend and the Viper bites, flinging the rear of the car violently outwards. If you press too hard on the loud pedal, the rear end shimmies and steps out, while the road-roller wheels struggle to control 500 unruly horses.

Underneath, the new model retains its backbone frame, topped by a largely plastic body. The bonnet, now separate from the wings, opens from the rear, while a conventional folding rag-top with a glass rear window replaces the previous car’s complex roof mechanism. With aluminium rear suspension wishbones, the new, larger Viper is nearly 50kg lighter than the model it replaces, and Chrysler promises that production versions should weigh just over 1,500kg

Chrysler Viper
Chrysler Viper
Chrysler Viper
Chrysler Viper
Chrysler Viper

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