THE PROS & CONS
What’s Best: Prodigious power, outrageous acceleration and looks that say this car means business.
What’s Worst: Pedal placement is very tricky and needs practice for most drivers.
What’s Interesting: The GTC model available with “one-of-a-kind” customization offers 8,000 exterior colours, 24,000 stripe colours, 11 wheel options, 16 interior trims and seven aero packages resulting in more than 25 million ways to build one of a kind.
BEVERLY HILLS, CA- There’s no car more in your face than the 2015 Dodge Viper SRT, especially the topline GTS.
It starts up with a grunt as 10 pistons heave over, before settling into a low rumble that sounds like an Atlantic deep-sea trawler.
Just touch the gas pedal and the two exhausts ahead of each rear wheel lets out a bark like you can only get from a big-bore “V” engine.
And big it is, with 10 cylinders and 8.4-litres displacement putting out 645 hp and 600 lb/ft of torque, the most torque of any naturally aspirated engine in the industry.
Even the girder-like X-brace upper stress bar over the engine is big at 2.7 kg (6.0 lb).
The V-10 engine, like the rest of the Viper, is hand-built with forged pistons and sodium-filled exhaust valves.
The six-speed manual transmission (no automatic available) is a huge thing, so much so that it intrudes into the cabin, meaning the pedals have to be positioned about two-three inches to the left of where you’d normally expect to find them.
After squirreling yourself into the driver’s seat, you are greeted with hand-sewn leathers in a choice of several colours and an Alcantara headliner.
In the GTS as tested here, it was a warm, tan-coloured Nappa leather tone, which my co-driver likened to that in a Ferrari.
The high performance racing seats are actually state-of- the-art resin transfer-moulding frames for weight reduction and long-term durability with very substantial side bolsters for both driver and passenger.
In front of the driver sits a seven-inch, full color instrument cluster that is fully customizable with a centre tachometre that can be configured to display the last shift point and a peak rpm hold marker. Views include tachometre-only or tachometre with digital speed readout.
The cluster also features the exclusive Dodge SRT Performance Pages’ statistics and feedback to the driver, including 0-to-100 km/h; 0-to-160 km/h; eighth- and quarter-mile elapsed times; braking distance; instant g-force measurement readouts and top-speed performance.
RELATED: Customize Your Dodge Viper
There are several Harman/Kardon surround-sound audio systems available, as well as a choice of two Uconnect infotainment systems, but my co-driver and I never turned them on, preferring to listen to the music made by the engine and exhaust.
The forward hinged carbon-fibre hood (also roof and rear decklid) stretches out before you like the landing deck of an aircraft carrier. Dodge calls this “extreme cab-rearward proportions”.
You can’t miss the two front hood air extractors on the GTS needed to get the heat out of the engine bay, aided by the equally large fender gills (a Viper design cue) on either side to also get the air out.
Another of those styling cues is the “double bubble” roof to give the two occupants more headroom. But the real reason is all about keeping the Viper as low as possible to reduce aero drag.
I’ll come right out and say I had trouble getting used to the pedal placement. With them splayed to the left I initially hit the gas when I was trying to use the brake and the clutch pedal had a travel that felt like 10 inches. For me, anyway, it would mean a lot of practice before I could start shifting in a second nature manner.
My co-driver and I were part of a rather exclusive four-person group who drove the Viper and Alfa Romeo 4C after the conclusion of a Fiat 500X press launch in Los Angeles.
On the Pacific Coast Highway (PCH) and later Highway 10, the Viper GTS proved the adage, “there ain’t no substitute for cubic inches”.
Effortless cruising with all that torque on tap makes this one of the most enjoyable highway cars you will ever drive, with a Vancouver journalist commenting he would be quite happy to drive it all the way home.
The exhaust exits right behind your ear so the sound of all those horses bellowing out under full acceleration is quite exhilarating.
Sight lines aren’t the greatest. With that long hood, the low roof and seating making it more like peering out over the edge of a foxhole, that means mirror adjustment is crucial but not critical, as with the Alfa Romeo 4C.
RECENT REVIEW: 2015 Alfa Romeo 4C Review
Along with near perfect 49.6-front/504-rear weight distribution, the GTS adds a driver-selectable suspension system featuring Bilstein DampTronic Select shock absorbers with street and track settings.
Braking is astounding thanks to 14-inch rotors with 18-inch front and 19-inch rear Pirelli P Zero, Z-rated tires.
Those brakes were much appreciated in the many canyon roads that snake up from the PCH to hills to the east of Malibu.
Here one mistake can see you off the road and into space; so car-handling knowledge really comes into play when you have something the size of the Viper.
First the grip of tires was so great; breaking was not needed as much as I thought. But when you did hit the binders, the Viper almost stops in its tracks.
In a city where supercars are a dime a dozen, the Viper got a lot of attention from other drivers, such is its presence.
But with all the fun, there is a drawback and that’s fuel economy with the 2015 NRCan numbers showing the GTS at (premium) 20L/100 km (13 mpg) city and 14L/100 km (22 mpg) highway. In real life the Viper will be thirstier.
There are three Viper SRTs available, each hand-built in Detroit starting with the base GT at $92,995 and the GTC Coupe at $99,995 and finally the GTS Coupe as tested here, $114,995.
The 2015 Dodge Viper SRT GTS isn’t for everyone. But for those who appreciate power and performance above all, this car is for them.
2015 Dodge Viper SRT GTS at a glance
BODY STYLE: Full-size performance coupe.
DRIVE METHOD: front-engine, rear-wheel-drive.
ENGINE: 8.4-litre, OHV (645 hp, 60 lb/ft)
FUEL ECONOMY: (Premium) 20/14L/100 km (13/22 mpg) city/highway
TOW RATING: Not recommended
CARGO CAPACITY: 414.8 litres (14.65 cu ft)
PRICE: Viper SRT GTS, $114,995