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2015 Dodge Viper REVIEW

Edmunds.com logo Edmunds.com 4/5/2017

Con: Manual transmission only; stiff suspension; poor overall visibility; firm seats limit long-distance comfort; no telescoping steering wheel; hot exhaust pipe beneath door sill.

Interior: The 2015 Dodge Viper is a pure sports car. It doesn't have much in the way of creature comforts, and the cabin clearly reflects this. Sure, there are nice leather surfaces available, but when you squeeze into the cockpit, you get the sense you're driving a racecar that has merely been gussied up for street use. The cockpit is at least thoughtfully padded in the right places with high-quality stitching, and has a dashboard that is highly legible and functional, with a configurable digital instrument cluster. The center stack controls are logical, and we particularly like the large central display screen and its easy-to-use virtual buttons and menus.

Taller drivers will physically fit, but they'll typically have to recline the seatback so far back that visibility can be a concern. Even for the average-size driver, the view outward is a bit like peeking through a mail slot, thanks to the unusually low roof line. The seats are on the narrow and firm side, with extra-large side bolsters to keep you secure while pulling massive lateral g-loads. As if you needed any further indication that the Viper was meant for the track, anchors for six-point racing harnesses are provided.

Interior storage is limited, but there are as many small bins and pockets as possible. The trunk is surprisingly spacious, measuring 14.6 cubic feet, which is on par with the Chevrolet Corvette coupe and nearly double the trunk space you get in a Nissan GT-R.

Body: The 2015 SRT Viper is a two-seat sports car available in four trim levels: base SRT, GT, GTC and GTS. Standard features for the SRT include 18-inch front wheels, 19-inch rear wheels, summer tires, automatic xenon headlights, LED daytime running lights and taillights, keyless ignition and entry, cruise control, cloth seating, a tilt-only leather-wrapped steering wheel, power-adjustable pedals, an auto-dimming rearview mirror and automatic climate control. Technology features include an 8.4-inch touchscreen with Uconnect, Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity, voice-controlled navigation and a 12-speaker Harman Kardon sound system with HD and satellite radio, an auxiliary input, a USB interface and an SD card reader.

The GT adds unique front and rear fascias, a trim-specific hood, driver-selectable suspension dampers, Brembo brakes with two-piece slotted rotors and red calipers, a five-mode electronic stability control system, a six-way power-adjustable driver seat and a unique interior with standard simulated suede and upgraded leather upholstery. The GTC largely mirrors the GT's equipment, but it makes several options packages available for purchase as well.

Opting for the Viper GTS adds a unique wheel design, full leather upholstery with contrasting stitching, a simulated suede headliner and seat inserts, a power-adjustable passenger seat and an upgraded 18-speaker Harman Kardon surround-sound audio system.

For the base SRT Viper, options include the aforementioned 18-speaker Harman Kardon sound system as well as the TA 1.0 and TA 2.0 packages. The TA (for Time Attack) 1.0 package adds racetrack-focused suspension tuning, a carbon-fiber rear spoiler, carbon-fiber front splitter, black brake calipers and softer-compound Pirelli tires. The TA 2.0 package adds the same equipment as the TA 1.0 along with unique bodywork, a carbon-fiber X-brace in the engine compartment and a larger rear wing.

Options for the GTC include the TA 1.0 and 2.0 packages, an advanced aerodynamics package (carbon-fiber front and rear spoilers), an exterior carbon-fiber package and a few other interior upgrades in the form of a Ceramic Blue Sport package and a Laguna Interior package (black or sepia) that includes a simulated suede headliner and unique premium leather surfaces.

As before, a slew of wheels, exterior colors and stem-to-stern stripes are available from which to choose and customize.

Driving: Regardless of your experience level, the 2015 Dodge Viper is one of those cars that demands respect. As with any purpose-built car with racing aspirations, the Viper forces some compromises in everyday drivability. There's a heft to all driver controls, from steering effort to running the shifter through the gates. These details add to the experience for the enthusiast but will likely grow tiresome for anyone who isn't fully committed to the Viper lifestyle. In addition, those generous seat bolsters sometimes interfere with the driver's elbows, while the pedals are closely positioned to each other, requiring a very deliberate driver's touch. Finally, extra care must be taken around the side-pipe exhaust routing when getting in and out, as it can get hot enough to burn bare legs.

Around town, the ride quality is stiff and you'll feel every bump and pebble. The Race setting for the adjustable suspension is downright punishing and makes the car feel nervous unless you're on a very smooth racetrack. Of course, the main attraction is the Viper's massive V10 engine and the ceremony that surrounds it. Even at idle, it emits a sinister warble, which grows to a fierce roar when the pedal is pushed with any aggression.

With a car as powerful as the Viper, which has a well-deserved reputation for being tricky to manage once you exceed the limits of grip, a driver training course with plenty of track time can be especially worthwhile. As such, Dodge offers an SRT Track Experience driving school (included in the purchase price of every 2015 Dodge Viper), which helps familiarize you with the car's capabilities while allowing you to hone your own skills.

What’s New: For 2015, the Dodge Viper gets a lower MSRP, 5 additional horses (up to 645 hp), a better highway fuel economy rating and a mildly revised six-speed transmission. A rearview camera, side airbags and a 12-speaker Harman Kardon sound system are now standard equipment, and the TA (Time Attack) packages with racetrack-focused equipment have been updated. Finally, a midlevel trim called the GT has been added to the Viper lineup.

The 2015 SRT Viper is powered by an 8.4-liter V10 engine that generates 645 hp and 600 pound-feet of torque. Power is sent to the rear wheels through a six-speed manual transmission.

During Edmunds performance testing, an earlier Viper GTS rated at 640 hp went from zero to 60 mph in just 3.7 seconds. With so much power on tap, the Viper isn't exactly a fuel-sipper, but the 2015 model does see a 2-mpg increase in its EPA highway rating from the previous model year. The EPA estimates that the 2015 Dodge Viper will return 15 mpg combined (12 city/21 highway).

Safety: Standard safety equipment on the 2015 Viper includes antilock disc brakes, stability and traction control, front and side airbags, and a rearview camera. Also standard, the Uconnect system includes emergency roadside assistance and collision notification. For the GT, GTC and GTS, a more sophisticated five-mode electronic stability control system is standard.

In Edmunds brake testing, a Viper GTS with the optional lightweight wheels and stickier tires came to a stop from 60 mph in 101 feet, which is excellent for a sports car. With the standard wheels and tires, the stopping distance was a still respectable 110 feet.

Pro: Massive power from naturally aspirated V10 engine; outlandish cornering grip; excellent touchscreen display and electronics interface; still a raw sports car at its core.

Edmunds Say: In the right hands, the 2015 Dodge Viper is a formidable machine that can stomp the competition. But this raw sports car does have its own set of significant drawbacks.

Introduction: If your attitude toward power is "more is better," then the idea of an 8.4-liter V10 engine granting 645 hp to the whims of your right foot should be a very appealing concept. The 2015 Dodge Viper provides exactly that. It's a rambunctious, brutally fast sports car with evocative styling to match. But with so many competitors that are nearly as powerful yet more refined, you'll want to consider all your options before picking the Viper as your next sports car.

Dodge has made some changes this year to smooth out the Viper's persona. The V10 engine receives a minor update that brings about 5 additional horses and better fuel economy on the highway. It's complemented by a revised 6th gear ratio in the transmission (for the GT, GTC and GTS) that Dodge says makes for a quieter, lower-rpm cruising experience at highway speeds. Dodge has also updated the Viper's safety features and tech equipment with a standard rearview camera, new side airbags and the 12-speaker Harman Kardon stereo as standard. These changes, plus expanded availability of the adjustable suspension and upgraded interior, make the Viper more civilized and manageable than ever.

That said, this is still a Viper we're talking about. While it isn't as rock hard as previous Vipers setups, the suspension on the current model is still pretty stiff. There's still no telescoping steering wheel, which can make it hard to find an ideal driving position, and the seats aren't very comfortable for long-distance drives. Then, there's just the beastly nature of the car itself: Driving a Viper at maximum attack still requires a high level of skill. Rival cars with less power might be a bit slower if you're pushing them to the limits on the track, but for everyday driving they could be more rewarding to the average driver.

The main alternative we think you should consider is the new supercharged 2015 Chevrolet Corvette Z06. It's essentially got the same amount of power as the Viper and just as much racetrack credibility, but it's a much more livable car overall. Or you could check out the 2015 Nissan GT-R or 2015 Porsche 911. They're considerably more expensive than the Viper or 'Vette but they're easier to drive fast and have backseats as well. And unlike the Viper, all of these cars can also be fitted with quick-shifting automatic or automated manual transmissions for those drivers who are three-pedal-averse. But for sheer boisterous attitude and outrageous track-based capability, we'd say that the Viper still rules the roost.

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