This year’s New York International Auto Show was largely a snore, per tradition, and that gems like the still-boring-but-re-blinged Chevy Impala got a sizeable percentage of attention is indicative of a consumer line-up. But thankfully, the automotive press still have their priorities straight, because far more of the attention went to the 2013 Viper, the first new asp from Chrysler since 2010. Here’s the skinny:
First of all, it’s no longer a Dodge Viper. Because while Ford is paring away redundant
brands, Chrysler’s family tree is only growing. They started with their Ram truck brand, and now SRT has their own marque. It’s short for Street and Racing Technology. Chrysler’s legal department would prefer that you don’t leave out that “and,” which we think should have been included in the acronym. But “StART” sounds like a car drenched in all things hipster and environmentalist, so that option left the table early on.
Especially when you consider the Viper’s 8.4 liter V-10. No, we’re not going to tell you the MPG, you bag hatted v-necker, because in the immortal words of that snooty guy at the high end shoe store (the one with the valet parking – you know the place), “If you have to ask, it’s not for you.”
We will tell you that it discharges 640 hp and 600 lb-ft of asphalt peeler, compared to 600 hp and 560 lb-ft on the previous Viper, which shared the same mill. SRT proudly touts that new torque figure as the highest of any naturally aspirated production car in the world.
Though this American now circulates about a 2 quarts of spicy Italian blood, the gearbox has thankfully avoided the marinara, and it’s topped instead with a six-speed manual transmission. Like in the old days. No flappy paddles. No double clutches. No option for either. If the Save the Manuals campaign had a team of Avengers, the SRT Viper would be their Hulk.
Playing that that third pedal professionally, you can get the SRT Viper’s 3,200 lbs from 0-60 in…pretty quick. SRT is hesitant to release details, but estimates are hovering around 3 seconds, with a predicted top speed of 206 mph. SRT thinks that’s plenty enough for racing, too, and they’re building a new Viper GTS-R for the American Le Mans Series.
We’re not sure how to feel about the Italian styling. It seems a little too conservative, lacking some mad, outlandish accent to really set it apart from its European rivals. There are no hood slashes or threatening curves like previous models. It’s not as mean.
That said, it does wear a more unified ensemble, and no longer looks like it was designed by a committee. The 2010 model looked like a stretched Avenger that got too close to a V-10 powered can opener. Wherever you fall on the new, Fiat-influenced artwork, this snake is certainly far from ugly.
The Viper’s return bugles the start of a new battle, a race, both literal and figurative, with the other American supercar – the Corvette. And when two of the Big Three race, we all win. (Can someone with a hookup forward this to Dearborn? Because we need a new Ford GT if we’re to do this properly.) Perhaps the humdrum New York International Auto Show will end up being the most important of 2012.
What do you think of the new Viper? Does it legitimize SRT as a brand? Does it have the specs to take on the ‘Vette? Does the styling make you bite your lower lip?
( imagery courtesy of autowallpaperhd.com )