2000 Dodge Viper RT/10 8.0 V10 petrol from UK and Ireland
Lots of flaws, but so characterful
Build and trim quality not acceptable on a car of this price and market segment. Significantly worse than my TVR Chimaera, and that cost less than half as much.
The car is actually very reliable though.
Much about the Viper is pretty awful. For starters, 400 bhp from 8 litres is a joke. European manufacturers would get 200 more from 2 litres less. Still, all said and done, it's an 8 litre V10 and as you would expect, it goes like absolute stink. First gear is good for around 60 mph! Shame it doesn't sound better though. Needs the Hennessey conversion for that (and another 150 bhp - yum!) That said, out of the box this has more than enough performance for the anti-speeding Nazis to put you behind bars with three gears left to go!
In the corners, it's not the handful you might think. Sure the sheer torque will overcome the garden roller rear tyres without too much trouble, but driven swiftly and tidily, it simply goes where you point it. It stays flat and there's good feel through the steering. The other bonus about having a big, softly tuned engine is it has no spikes or surges in its delivery which can upset the car. There's just fuss free grunt at any revs and any throttle opening.
Running costs are what you would expect of a 14 mpg car - steep! Insurance is horrendous as well. My premium went up by 65% over the Chimaera.
One of those cars I just had to have, and now I'm going to have a hard time parting with. Has a sense of occasion and a feel good factor that few polished European rivals can get near. In many ways, the bad bits of the Viper - the comedy build quality, the mediaeval technology and the sheer impracticality of it are exactly the things that make it stand out. If you like the finely honed precision of, say a Porsche, you will hate it. If you love the attitude and "characterful flaws" of a TVR, you will probably fall in love with the Dodge. I have.
Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes
Review Date: 8th November, 2004
Theres almost always a downside! monstrous low down and mid range torque in V10 but when it comes to top end power it's lacking, for an 8 litre engine, likewise I know there is a tuned gtr used in racing with about 650 bhp, but it lacks torque! low don, why the heck do they not switch to twin cam variable valve timed systems like BMW! or do they not have the expertise? it's the perfect balance of torque an power all throughout the rev range!
I wasn't saying the power output ruined the car at all, but I stand by my criticisms.
The first commenter raises a valid point that the engine is clearly tuned for tractability and longevity. However, this can still be done better in Europe.
For example, VW/Audi have recently launched a V10 of their own that bears interesting comparison. It's 3 litres smaller than the Viper's unit, and although slightly down on power, it has a higher specific output, and similar peak torque. However, it produces the latter at just 2,000 RPM, and makes the Viper's "amazing" 405ft/lb at 1500 RPM look a bit limp by making a stump relocating 475lb/ft at the same crank speed. And it does all this using balancer shafts and clever offset crank pins to give near identical NVH test results to a typical V12.
The best bit of all however, is this engine is a diesel unit. It returns 30-35 MPG average in a big heavy saloon car, and carbon emissions are a fraction of a comparable sized petrol engine. If you want torquey, effortless, long lived and lazy, no petrol engine can hold a candle to a good diesel.
It's my dream car =p.
I own two Vipers. The RT/10 and a GTS. To those who have never driven one, please don't make assumptions? The fact is Vipers are unmatched in any type of track racing, and beat out the Vette ZR1 in quarter mile drag racing. I don't understand those here who compare them to Saleens etc.