It seems like the Detroit horsepower wars continue to rage on with Detroit’s big 3 leading the surge, the one primary difference however between this time and last time is we are now achieving significant power gains while also maintaining excellent fuel economy. For those of you who may not be familiar with history, we went through this exact thing more than 40 years ago and like so many other things in life, history repeats itself even in the automotive world.
Back in the 1960’s Automotive Designers and Marketing people began to discover that horsepower sells, and one manufacturer that was consumed by it was Dodge. To give you an idea of how important the performance industry was to Dodge, a team of Chrysler executives met in late 1963 to discuss and approve a plan that would produce a vehicle to win the 1964 Daytona race. Acceleration or (Ac’SELL’eration) was a slogan used in many sales meetings and right around 1964 Dodge blew the lid off the industry with the creation of the legendary 426 Hemi engine. No engine has inspired more racers or enthusiasts than the Hemi and it certainly has left an indelible stamp on automotive history.
Fast forward fifty or so years and we are once again in the horsepower battle, this time though it’s so much more than just engine power. Today, not only are we seeing 550, 650, 707, and 725 horsepower ratings, we’re also seeing suspension and chassis improvements that make all that power much safer and easier to handle.
Here now for 2016 Dodge is once again making headlines with their all new Viper GTS and ACR models and it seems snake lovers all across America are rejoicing. Dodge executives claim this newest Viper is the fastest track car ever built by the automaker and no detail has been overlooked. The decision to bring the ACR back is one of several actions the company has taken to generate new interest in the Viper.
Our Horsepower team recently met out at a Southern California regional Dodge location to get a first hand look at the new Viper GTS and I must admit, this car is quite impressive. The overall look and design is unique and imposing, especially the rake of the platform. The real thrill however, is once the big V10 fires up, it’s got a throaty low rumble to it that beckons the driver to hit the throttle.
We headed out onto one of Southern California’s open highways and were immediately impressed by the low end torque the engine produces. The handling was crisp and very responsive and you definitely feel the road not only in the seats but through the steering wheel in a way that inspires confidence.
The interior is a glove type fit and feel and the racing seats from Sabelt feature a lightweight shell for mass reduction and long-term durability. The dash and instrumentation are easy to read and easy to find and the infotainment and technology are some of the best Spence and I have come across.
A couple things that we didn’t like was the exhaust seemed to get so loud it was difficult to hear one another at 60 mph and the view around the vehicle from the drivers seat is a bit obscured in places. As we drove it further, it became a bit easier but still felt a bit uncomfortable in terms of sight lines.
The V10 is more than capable with 645 horsepower with 600 pound feet of torque but, the only transmission available is a 6 speed manual and while it felt good, we wish Dodge would offer it with a 7 speed dual clutch transmission.
Is Viper competing with the Hellcat? Dodge tells us it is not as the Viper appeals to a different type of buyer. The Challenger and Charger appeal to the muscle car enthusiasts, whereas the Viper is more track oriented with a supercar feel.
That being said, rest assured the Viper is not to be outdone by the 707HP Hellcat, a supercharged V10 Viper is rumored to be soon released and if so, it will easily surpass the Hellcat’s 707 HP and a supercharged V10 would probably be putting out somewhere in the 800 horsepower range. As it stands, the Viper T/A is the fastest production car to ever go around Laguna Seca, I’m talking faster than a Ferrari 458, an Aventador or even the McLaren 12C (all of which we’ve driven) and it’s hard to imagine another 100 to 150 horsepower in this car as it is now.
The additional horsepower would almost certainly require an automatic to handle it, the current tremec manual transmission is only rated for 650 pound feet of torque and even then it’s stretched to its limits. The 6 speed magnum XL is rated at 700 pound feet of torque but take our word for it folks, you don’t want to be continually asking your manual transmission to stand up to that type of demand, when it’s all said and done, we’re going to need an automatic option in the Viper to save the day.
Our test model rolled in at $113,000 and seemed accurately priced but one thing is certain, this car is definitely a thrill ride. Dodge is no stranger to the performance world and anytime we have an opportunity to preview their lineup, it’s a sure bet we’ll be there…for you Dodge enthusiasts, you’ll understand when we say, “It’s Mopar or No Car”
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