SRT Viper: A more refined beast

With its no-frills approach to performance, the Dodge Viper had become an anachronism. The new one brings it into the 21st century with some classy touches.

Track drive

gallery 2013 srt viper

Of course, to really experience a car like the Viper, you have to take it to the track. So Chrysler provided journalists with a few laps around the Sonoma Raceway.

I make no claim to being the quickest guy on a racetrack. Not by a longshot. But here I was with a 640 horsepower rear-wheel drive Viper and I was feeling, surprisingly, not too horribly worried. By this time, I'd been with the car long enough to know it wasn't waiting to trip me up.

My most recent track drive, prior to this, had been in the similarly-priced Nissan GT-R. While the V-6 powered GT-R lacks the Viper's outright muscle, it makes up for in all-wheel-drive nimbleness. Now, there's a car to make the most ham-fisted goon feel like a pro.

The Viper's not quite that playful but, considering its essentially muscle-centric nature, it's a great, confidence inspiring car to steer through a high-speed curve. As I worked to thread turn after turn my only concerns were centered on my own reflexes, not on the car's. This Viper's a pretty cool customer. Only once, when I braked late going into a turn, did the automatic stability control system -- something new for the Viper -- come on. Even then, the on-board computers provided just enough of a nudge on the brakes to get the car back into line.

  @peterdrives - Last updated November 21 2012 01:42 PM ET

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