After a two-year absence that had its fans feeling snakebit, the new 2013 SRT Viper finally made its triumphant return in New York. A comprehensive evolution of its predecessor, the fifth generation of this American icon arrives on the scene late this year with more power, less weight and a host of new features that SRT boss Ralph Gilles believes have made it well all worth the wait: "The SRT Viper model is meant to offer a perfect blend of extreme performance and a deliberate preservation of what has become the iconic DNA of the Viper. We strove to deliver a supercar that continues to bring the driver as close as possible to the machine." SRT will offer the car in two distinct variants, the standard SRT Viper and a more technologically advanced -- and commensurately pricier Viper GTS model.

>2012 New York Auto Show full coverage

The transition from Dodge to SRT nomenclature entailed significant improvements in literally every functional area of the new Viper. Much of that effort aimed at trimming weight and increasing aerodynamic efficiency. The exterior design, while retaining all the classic Viper cues, has been refined to enhance its wind-cheating properties while enhancing high-speed stability. The Viper's reduced-mass body bits bring new carbon-fiber hood, roof and decklid panels as well as lightweight aluminum door skin elements.

Both the SRT Viper and SRT Viper GTS will be fitted with an enhanced version of the well-proven 8.4-liter V10 that's shed 25 pounds as part of its makeover and is preliminarily rated at 640 horsepower and 600 lb-ft of peak torque - plus-40 bumps in both departments. This high-intensity V10 also benefits from a new higher-flow/lighter-weight composite intake manifold, high-strength forged pistons, sodium-filled exhaust valves and an aluminum flywheel that reduces reciprocating losses, as well as a new exhaust system with less-restrictive catalytic converters. Backing the engine is a Tremec TR6060 six-speed manual transmission that also has been enhanced with more closely-spaced ratios and a short-throw shifter. Finally, the new SRT Viper gets deeper (3.55:1 vs 3.07:1) differential cog that allows it to reach its estimated 206-mph top speed in 6th gear.

Underpinning the 2013 SRT Viper is heavily revamped chassis that provides 50 percent more structural rigidity while helping trim another 100 pounds from the package. Using tricks learned from the previous Viper GTS-R and Competition Coupe models, engineers were able to optimize the basic design and add other braces and reinforcing elements further improve the Viper's handling and crashworthiness. The new Viper also benefits from a wider front track and a re-engineered rear suspension while gaining its first-ever fitment of electronic stability control and traction control systems as well as a steering-wheel-mounted launch control switch.

Standard wheel/tire fitment on both Viper and Viper GTS models matches Pirelli P Zero 275/30 rubber on 18-inch alloys up front with 335/30 boots on 19-inch rear rims. Stopping power is supplied by huge four-piston Brembo anti-lock units with vented rotors and forged calipers. The two models do feature different suspension setups, with the Viper GTS netting a driver-selectable two-mode package that fits Bilstein DampTronic Select shocks in place of the conventional units in the base Viper. Both versions can be ordered with an SRT Track Package that swaps the Brembos rotors for lighter-weight StopTech units and brings Ultra Lighweight Track Wheels wrapped in even stickier Pirelli P Zero Corsa tires.

While performance is why it lives, the new SRT Viper also boasts major enhancements to its roster of creature comforts. The passenger compartment has been fully revamped with higher grade materials throughout -- including standard Nappa leather trim in the GTS -- and provides more interior room along with improved ergonomics. Lightweight Sabelt racing seats that offer enhanced comfort and support are mounted lower in the cabin but offer height adjustability for the first time. The new Viper also features a 7.0-inch fully customizable color main instrument display as well as Chrysler's UConnect Access system that features its own 8.4-inch display in the center stack and can be combined with either of two UConnect Media Centers. Viper buyers also will be able to upgrade the standard radio with a variety of harman/kardon premium surround sound audio systems.

Hand-built at Chrysler's newly reopened Connor Avenue assembly plant that also was home to its predecessors, the first of the new 2013 SRT Vipers is expected to arrive in showrooms by year's end. No word yet on pricing, or when we might expect to see an equally outrageous roadster version roll onto the scene. However, SRT boss Gilles did confirm that a race-only SRT Viper GTS-R variant will be taking take to the track this summer to participate in American Le Mans Series (ALMS) competition.


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