With a healthy rumble -- this is no quiet family car -- we started out onto a long stretch of winding roads in California's Napa Valley. The route went through roads that curved along river bends. Not surprisingly, the Viper pulled strongly from any speed with little fuss. During a fairly routine passing maneuver, my co-driver cracked triple digits without initially realizing he'd done so.
Mash hard and quick on the gas and it takes off like a shot, although even that felt surprisingly restrained for a car with this much power. Take off feels gradual and controlled until you demand more with a quick stab at the gas pedal. There's little noisy drama beyond the engine's roar.
Thrown through a series of S-turns, the Viper handled them with ease, poise and balance. But, it's still a Viper. The steering's a little heavy and there's plenty of road feel. The car is also notably weighty, despite plenty of lightweight carbon fiber and aluminum in the body, and visibility through the narrow windshield and over the bulging hood is a little challenging.
Still, this is a car I would happily drive across the country, provided I had plenty to spend on gas.
The redesigned pony car will offer better fuel economy, an improved ride and better handling, Ford says.