24 hours with a SRT Red Launch Edition

Discussion in 'Generation V Discussions / SRT Coupe, GTS, GTC, AC' started by former345bhpLS1, Sep 2, 2013.

  1. former345bhpLS1

    former345bhpLS1 Enthusiast

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    Recently I had the immense privilege of renting a Gen V for 24 hours from Club Sportiva in the Bay Area (they are located primarily in the Bay Area / San Jose, but also have a location in SoCal called Marina Del Rey). BTW, the experience with Club Sportiva was excellent. Very straightforward, funny issues or fines. Just like borrowing a car for a day from a friend (never payed my friends a $1000 for a car borrow, but some things can't carry over).

    Anyway, back to the important part...the Car! I'm writing this, of course, for those who have not yet driven the car or only driven it for a short time. My background is a serious Viper fan who has never owned. My closest friend (Dave), who also joined me for the Gen V rental, is a former 97 GTS owner who sold his car 10 years ago. He put 40,000 miles on his Gen 2 and was kind enough to let me put 3000 miles on it over 3.5 years. I owned a 98 C5 coupe at the time. Since then, Dave has owned several other interesting cars and currently has a 2009 Z06 and a 2009 911 C2S PDK. He brought the 911 up for the trip and it allowed for a few back to back comparisons.

    We rented the car because we are both very interested in buying one in the not so distant future, but neither of us have driven a Viper since 2003 (I drove 2 other Gen2s as well, both 2001s that were similar, but felt slightly toned down compared to the 97 GTS...possibly due to their stock exhaust which is disturbingly quiet). We feared that much of the Viper magic would have been engineered out over the years, especially with the new "refinement" of the Gen V. It seemed that the new Gen V was likely to feel like a faster Z06, extremely capable, but not very interesting unless you are driving the car extremely hard (like on the track). We couldn't have been more wrong!

    For those who loved the previous Vipers (or at least the Gen 2), this car is nothing short of Driving Perfection! It is sensatioal to drive on the road, but not just because it is extremely fast and powerful, but because it has so much personality and still immensely capable.

    However, our first impressions were not so positive. Both of us needed to drive at least 40-50 miles before we could get the hang of things and appreciate the car.

    The first issue is visibility. We are both fairly tall (I'm 5'11" and Dave is 6'3"). We both fit well, but the view out the front took some getting used to. It took a bit of time to adjust the seat and get forward visibility to a good place. After 30-45 minutes of driving, I did not notice the visibility issue at all and I drove for ~250 miles without any issues with the visibility. Dave would consider a seat lowering kit, but it was not a must and he was also able to drive comfortably. Certainly, the view out over the hood is awesome and very nostalgic (lots of deja vu moments on this trip).

    The next issue was the initial high work load of driving. I don't spend much time driving in San Jose and trying to navigate with the cars less than ideal visibility (especially in the first few miles of driving), the noise, borrowed car, and all the feedback coming from the chassis, steering, engine,...everything(!) made driving stressful and unpleasant. It was sort of like trying to conduct a job interview at a loud and crowded party. It's had to understand what the car is telling you at first, because there is so much info coming in at the same time. I also headed down Palomares road (for those of you who know the Bay Area). The car handled it fine, but the road is a bit rough and it was difficult to appreciate the cars virtues. That said, Dave was driving behind me in the 911 C2S and had a hell of a time keeping up. This in spite of the fact that I felt like I was driving kind of slow with the engine between 2000 and 3000 RPMs, usually 2 gears higher than optimal for the speed. This car does not like to go slow (like the Gen 2) and you generally find yourself going much faster than you expected (and all well below the cars capabilities).

    However, once we reached my usual stomping grounds things got much better. Since I didn't have to focus much on navigating, I could start to filter and organize all of the cars feedback. Suddenly the car was much more comfortable and the feedback was very useful.

    The steering is fantastic. Well weighted, very precise, and good to excellent feedback. Feedback is maybe 80-85% as good as the 911 (with hydraulic steering) and turn-in is immediate. Turn-in is the best I've experienced on a Front-Mid engine rear-drive car. Many journalist have claimed that the steering is too quick and they spend a lot of time sawing at the wheel. I didn't experience this at all and I'm not sure what they are feeling or thinking. The ratio is the same as all prior Vipers and is moderately quick, but not supper quick. It might be the immediacy of the response more than anything. I did not expect a F-R (front-engine rear-drive)car to turn in so immediately, usually these cars resist directional changes more than mid-rear cars. The lack of initial tire scrub or resistance to rotation might be the issue. This car seriously turns in like a 911 (reinforced by a back to back comparison), it is very agile and very precise.

    Of course, the engine is amazing. No surprise, but the horsepower and torque is immense and very violent (in all the best ways, 640 bhp should not be subtle nor can it be without filtering). The throttle response is far better than the Z06's and much more immediate. This may be what intimidates so many new drivers / journalists. Any small changes in throttle position leads to an immediate change in torque output. Torque peak maybe at 5000 RPMs, but the low end response os very close to the Gen 2s (albeit, viewed through rose-colored glasses with 10 years in between). It is as close to a mechanical linkage that I have felt in a modern car and can be startling at first. It can also make the car harder to drive a low speeds until you recalibrate your brain. This is one of the fun features of the car, it demands your attention and driving craftsmanship even when you are driving through the Berkeley hills at 20-25 mph, driving this car slow is fun! I can't think of any other modern cars like this.
    Engine still has a lot of good character and still defines the driving experience. The stock is exhaust is surprisingly good and makes blipping for downshifts a source of giddiness. The lightweight fly wheel also makes downshifting a blast and the engine feels much more alive than the Gen 2 stock. Operating that engine is such a pleasure and joy.

    The other big surprise was the traction. This car puts 640 hp down to the pavement MUCH better than a Z06 does with 505 or a Gen 2 with ~500 hp. I experienced very little wheelspin and only a handful of TC activations. The TC is pretty liberal and I managed to see pretty impressive wheelspin on one acceleration run without any intervention (as long as the car is pointed straight and managed). The power coming out of corners in 2nd gear is remarkable in 60-70 deg ambient temps. The car is much more manageable on corner exit than I would have ever expected given it's specs.

    Handling balance was very neutral. Feedback during cornering was very good and I felt comfortable pushing the car reasonably hard after only 60 minutes of cautious seat time. There is also a lot of feedback from the chassis in addition to the steering (this may startle your passenger on a winding road), but it tells you a ton about the pavement conditions and traction situation. Once you learn to gather-up this info, driving the car pretty hard is very predictable, but you need this info to manage the car properly.

    Brakes were better than expected, more potent than stock Z06 or 911 brakes. Brake pedal is very linear and engages at the top of the pedal travel. Feel is excellent, didn't drive hard enough / long enough to see any kind of fade.

    The car I drove only had 2100 miles on it (2500 when returned :) ) and the shifter needed to break in more. The gates where wider and precise, but both Dave an I frequently hung-up on the 2-3 shift. Need more practice.

    Interior was very nice and comfortable with a lot of leg room. Wrapped surfaces and definitely nicer than plastic, but I never minded the plastic. The UConnect system was easy to use, but I didn't explore it much.
    I liked the digital tach more than expected. It works better in person than in videos and responds very quickly. It does a good imitation of an analog tach and I never thought about it during the drive.
    There was one squeak emanating from the passenger side of the cabin, which is a bit disappointing on a car with 2100 miles, but it didn't diminish my enjoyment of the car.

    Most important: Fun of driving
    This car is the most enjoyable car that I have ever driven, by a wide margin. The controls are linear and immediate. The car is agile and very precise, and the power is insane with a chassis that can really deploy it.
    But most impressive, this car retains like 90% of the Gen 2's personality (in my estimation) while adding more power, better handling balance, more agility, and serious brakes. It manages to be just as much fun as the Gen 2 (way, way more fun than a Z06), but not as nerve wracking to drive. You still have the excitement, but not the trepidations (that I used to have). It is simply stunning and I am still amazed that SRT pulled this off. I was very excited when this car came out. I have wanted a Gen 2 for 12 years now (medical school and residency precluded purchase during those years) and this seemed a like chance to effectively buy a new Gen 2. I had high hopes and they were still exceeded.

    However, they were not exceeded after a 2 mile drive on level roads or even 20 minutes driving in traffic. You can't judge this car till you really get to know it. This is the biggest challenge for this car, finding opportunities for potential owner's to experience the cars virtues when you cannot even guess what the car is like from a 10 minute test drive (if the dealer will even let you).

    Similarly, most of these journalists (like the MotorTrend comments where they are weary of the car or think it is trying to intimidate them) just need to drive the car more and not get hung-up on first impressions and precedent. I think they are driving the car for a few minutes, generating an initial impression, then trying to reinforce that impression for the rest of the drive. The answer is - drive longer and drive harder.

    But after driving the car for 24 hours, I want one more than any car before and I now I need to figure out how to make it work.

    It also answered my question about owning a Gen 2 vs Gen 5. I think that most of the special driving experience that the Gen 2 offers is part of the Gen 5. That said, the cars are different enough to co-exist in a collection and there is a great "authenticity" to the Gen 2 as a truly analog car. But the Gen 5 is a worthy successor to the Gen 2 in my mind, not just a look-alike body.

    Also, to all the naysayers who frequent these forums, you have absolutely NO IDEA what the car is like until you drive it. The numbers say almost nothing about the actual experience. If you are serious about the car, you need to really drive it before making a judgement or insisting that SRT make changes to something. Borrowing the car for 24 hours will cost you just over $1000 with tax (good to purchase extra miles too). Even if you have to fly in to drive the car, it is worth it to really know the car. If you don't do that, you don't have a leg to stand on (in my eyes).

    This car is a masterpiece for quick blasts on the back roads and there is nothing on the market even remotely like it. It is likely the last of the great analog cars and it has been engineered to perfection for an F-R car with monster power.

    If you ever run across an SRT engineer, buy them a drink because they definitely deserve it.

    I'll try to post a few pictures, but they are iPhone pictures of a red Viper, nothing you haven't seen before.

    Best,

    Nick
     
  2. SilveRT8

    SilveRT8 Viper Owner

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    WOW ! Great review Nick !
    Exactly in line with my feelings, and other OWNERS about how good of a sportscar this beast really is.
    Two comments :
    -The seating height can be fixed in less than 2 minutes just by removing the two 1" spacers from under the seat track, and vision and comfort becomes a charm for anyone 5'11" and over.
    -The driving pleasure only grows after a few weeks with the car. It keeps getting better !
     
  3. ViperSmith

    ViperSmith Enthusiast

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    Possibly the biggest downside to the car is the visibility issues. But, you get used to them. Stopping at traffic lights sucks, but such is life.

    Nice write up.
     
  4. madninjaskillz

    madninjaskillz Enthusiast

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    I really appreciate the write up. Thanks for taking the time.
     
  5. mikesax

    mikesax Viper Owner

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    Like I've been sayin-no other car on the road like it!! Well said!!
     
  6. FinalEd357

    FinalEd357 Viper Owner

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    Great post. Not in my budget now, have a Gen IV, but would have loved to have won the raffle car. Seems like most OWNERS are posting very favorable reviews. I sat in and revved one up a few months ago at a Detroit area Viper event and thought it was very impressive!
     
  7. johniew398

    johniew398 Enthusiast

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    Thanks. Probably the most in-depth and objective review I have read on the Gen V.
     
  8. Nine Ball

    Nine Ball Enthusiast

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    Very detailed and excellent write-up. Your concerns about the visibility and all the distractions of driving a borrowed car in traffic reminded me of when I first bought my '06 coupe. Exact same feeling. The interior felt tiny to me, and the visibility was very odd. Pretty large blind-spots in the quarter panel area, it trains you to become a good mirror driver. The Gen V is the same as the Gen 3/4 coupe, in those initial concerns. But, when you own one of these cars and get comfortable driving around in them, you don't even notice those concerns. The Viper is not user-friendly, it is a no-compromise car. Some people (magazine guys especially) are more fond of commuting appliances that do everything for them.

    Tony
     
  9. LouN

    LouN Viper Owner

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    Good review. Love my Gen V. When I bought mine, I test drove a GTS and on the same day test drove Ferrari California, and F430. Before I drove any I was convinced I was going to buy the 430, but Gen V was the best car I had ever driven for what I was looking for in a super car. Preferred it to the Ferrari. Most exhilarating, powerful driving experience you can find. Actually ended up buying an SRT because I actually thought the extra sound insulation on the GTS took away from the tremendous thrill of the engine, exhaust note, and down shift blips. When I drive mine, I never want to get out of it. Only complaint is that the cabin still gets hot from exhaust (only minimally improved over my Gen I). This is no BS, offers a much a much bigger, more powerful driving experience than the F430.
     
    Last edited: Sep 2, 2013
  10. former345bhpLS1

    former345bhpLS1 Enthusiast

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    If that is all it takes to lower the seat an inch, I would probably do it. The visibility wasn't a problem after the first 30 minutes of driving, my brain seemed to have adjusted easily. It was more the first impression.

    Definitely a worthy trade off given everything else that the car brings to the experience. Plus, the unique view out of the car does make the car feel a bit more special when you drive.
    There is definitely no question of what you are driving when you are out and about.
     
  11. SilveRT8

    SilveRT8 Viper Owner

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  12. hawkeye

    hawkeye Enthusiast

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    I was the co-driver for this madness, and I have to say, it was an epic 24 hours.

    There are a few standout things with this car that just blew me away, but the first thing to re-iterate is, be careful of first impressions with this car if you are not on a familiar road, or you are under some degree of outside pressure (time constraint, salesman in the seat, phone calls, other distractions). Nick said he almost had a "helmet-fire" in the first 20 minutes of driving it due to having to navigate (no nav in the rental and I am not from around the area), making sure he didn't lose me in traffic (I was behind him in a 997.2 S), mildly worried about damaging the car ($15,000 wreck fee if you total it), and the onslaught of the senses that is the SRT Viper w/Track Pack that absolutely demands you pay attention to it and drive it.

    The standout items (from my humble perspective):

    1. The most amazing thing is the chassis, just unbelievable that this is a "old-school" tubular steel chassis. You would think it is a some aluminum, CF, Chromoly, or otherwise super exotic super, stiff chassis. The Chassis is in my opinion the biggest deal on this car, because it allows you to put power down, and it allows the steering and suspension to communicate to you in the most amazing ways given the platform (FR). It is the super glue that ties all of the other great things about the car together, without the chassis work/tuning, most of the other standout items would be more muted.

    2. Steering - Frankly, it has more feel than my 911 in "casual" driving situations, and whatever you think of 911s, I believe if you have driven a hydraulic-steering 911 before and pushed the car on B-roads, you will likely agree it is one of the best steering setups out there in terms of confidence-inducing feel. The 911 is better for feel at the margins when you start pushing both cars, but it is simply stunning that a FR platform has as much feedback as the SRT does in all situations including when hammering it in the canyons. I would say the SRT is 90% of the steering feel/feedback of the 911 when pushing things hard, and has much more when just casually driving straight down a relatively smooth road.

    3. Suspension - I can see many a person who will drive or ride in the car, and walk away thinking they were "just in an ox cart". My opinion is, you need to be a very discerning driver to understand the difference between bad ride, and communicative ride, and there IS a difference. Modern cars are typically tuned to simply filter road feel through the chassis down to some piss poor emulation of what the car is really feeling. In doing so modern cars tend to throw a warm blanket, cookies, and milk at you while you are careening down the canyon, telling you everything is alright and you are so brilliant until things go wrong, at which point you are handed an "unfortunate" situation with limited feel in order to resolve (assuming no nanny fixes it for you!). The SRT Viper instead tells you everything, and lets your brain sort it out rather than a computer. This is in large part where the car is going to scare people (rather than the engine which is everyone's assumption). The thing is, your other cars are doing the same things that this car is doing, but the Viper is just giving you the honest truth about what is REALLY going on underneath you, and that is almost impossible to find in a modern mass produced street car (the Elise comes to mind as a possible alternative). So I for one love the suspension to death, but if you are just going to tour over bad roads, choose between the SRT and GTS carefully (I would take the SRT and get another GT car personally...). Final thought is that the feel is very linear from 0 load all the way to 1.2 G (where we stopped given our limited seat time and it was a rental...). By contrast my Z06 feels like a dead fish until the car is super loaded up, and then all of the sudden it is a rock star and you have an almost religious experience. I bet a lot of people who never really push their Z06 hard on seriously curvy roads, or track it, have zero idea of how great a car it really is under balls-to-the-wall conditions, I for one would have already sold mine long ago had I not experienced this.

    4. Brakes - Incredible track pack brakes, I was half expecting the brakes to be "OK" given the history of the marque and using C6 Z06 and modern 911 brakes as a comparison, but no, these things were phenomenal. Maybe a little over-assisted on the initial bite (this could just be the pad, otherwise maybe the boosting is slightly high), but once you get into them, they will rip the eyeballs out of your head with hot tires and impending lockup.

    5. Engine - This is what everyone talks about, and it is half the personality of the car (the other half being the chassis/steering/suspension feel). It feels like a cross between a gen 2 motor and an ls7. It is revvy, but has a ridiculous torque curve at the same time. It is really an odd engine in many ways because it is a big block that revs like a small-block racing v8 with a lightweight flywheel, very unique and has a lot of personality. It produces headline numbers, but the really story is that the rest of the car is capable of taking the power and actually putting it down to the ground (at least with corsa tires on in 60-70 deg ambient dry temps). Properly executed downshifts are epic given how rev-happy it is and how well done the T6060 transmission is. It is an awesome power plant, I almost can't believe it passes regulations. The one thing I do miss is a direct throttle cable linkage, there is a feel there that can't be replicated with drive by wire, but the drive by wire system is quite good given the inherent limitations.

    6. Transmission - The T6060 is awesome, I have it in my Z06 and I believe in that platform it is perfection (given you need a transmission to hold that kind of power, I would say the s2000 and 911 manual transmissions are the best I have every driven, but those are not practical for big torque cars). I believe this implementation is about 85% as good as the Z06 implementation. It is a little balky in some situations, and is higher effort (I'm sure beefed up to handle the ridiculous torque), and it was a new transmission with only a few k on the clock so it might improve with use.

    7. Exhaust - They did a really nice blend of legal by European standards noise level yet still sounds evil from within the car and at high revs outside the car. I personally would immediately put a corsa on one but I am a bit crazy (had H pipe on my 97 GTS with no mufflers from the cat-back to give you some idea...). The one thing is, there are certain scenarios in which the side pipe can make your left eardrum feel like it could explode, some sort of resonance under very specific throttle loads and speeds. I only experienced it with the windows up, and this might just be the price paid for a side-pipe setup (I personally would have gone rear-exit but I understand why SRT did what they did).

    8. Interior - Visibility out front not great as mentioned above, initially distracting, seat lowering kit would fix this. We had a launch edition SRT with no nav, it was basically a "stripper" with leather seats. So I don't feel comfortable making a ton of comments. I put it between the Z06 and 911S in terms of quality/feel, it is good but no F430 or 458 interior (although from what I see the Laguna interior is stunning). I could care less on this sort of car though, it could have a gen II interior all over again and I would be fine with it. I would order this exact car, Red Launch edition track pack, and I would just add nav for workload reduction when I am out running back canyons roads.

    9. Exterior - It is super nostalgic to us gen II guys, especially seeing the car from another car, especially if it is in your rear view mirror. I love it, great modern take on my favorite shape (Ferrari 250 GTO / Shelby Daytona / Gen II GTS).

    10. Gawk Factor - Extremely high right now, the public doesn't realize the car is back, and it often is like a spaceship driving down the road in terms of reactions, even in affluent areas, you have been warned :)

    Conclusions - Buy one, for the love of god, buy one. They will not sell well to this "new type of buyer" in my opinion, and that is because it is still a Viper, a raw beast the assaults you with sensory data and is so involving that you exit the car sweating, exhausted, with a major grin plastered on your face if you are the true target market for the car. It will make you giggle like a little school girl (I had 2-3 episodes where I couldn't stop laughing for 2-3 minutes straight during some canyon driving). So get them while they are hot, because I don't see a car being built like this in the future unless you are buying a kit car or some ultra-low production Pagani Zonda (which he doesn't even make anymore...) type of car...
     
  13. TrackAire

    TrackAire Viper Owner

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    Very smart move to rent the car...only way to really know if you like it. Great review, been to Club Sportiva for cars and coffee type events. We're lucky to have the rental cars so close to us.

    Glad you were impressed with the car, now the hunt is on :2tu:

    Cheers,
    George
     
  14. hawkeye

    hawkeye Enthusiast

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    I'm not photog as you can tell, but I love the 3/4 look of this car even on a poor quality phone camera. I'm sure Nick has more photos, this is just an appetizer :)
    NOTE: I supplied the Valentine One, this is not something the rental firm provides with the car :D

    srtviper.jpg
     
  15. Nine Ball

    Nine Ball Enthusiast

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    Another nice write-up, hawkeye. Comparing certain aspects with the Z06 made it easy for me to gauge your thoughts on the car, as I've also had a C6Z. The Corvette does sort of feel like mush when driving it around, but it is a very precise vehicle on the road course and winding backroads. The Viper is always rigid feeling, by comparison, like it is bored of the slow driving and wants you to do something more exciting with it.

    The navigation in this car is excellent. I've used it to drive across the country 3 times now, to multiple cities and hotels. Always worked well. It is Garmin based. Did that red car have the rear view camera? If not, that is another recommendation.

    Tony
     
  16. v10enomous

    v10enomous Viper Owner

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    Thanks guys... Great write up.

    This is what I see too.

    9. Exterior - It is super nostalgic to us gen II guys, especially seeing the car from another car, especially if it is in your rear view mirror. I love it, great modern take on my favorite shape (Ferrari 250 GTO / Shelby Daytona / Gen II GTS).
     
  17. Capt Van

    Capt Van Viper Owner

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    Thanks, both of you for a great write up. I'll bet you had a blast and will have to have the smile on your faces surgically removed.
     
  18. Smog Dog

    Smog Dog Viper Owner

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    Lou---From your avatar, it looks like you and I have pretty much the same car. Are you sure you have the climate control set properly? Cabin heat was a problem in my G3 Vipers. Heat was not an issue in my G4 Vipers, and is certainly not an issue in my G5.....

    And to the OP, very nice review---I hope you are able to buy one soon!

    Bill
     
  19. Bruce H.

    Bruce H. Enthusiast

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    Great review gentlemen! Those who are new to Vipers can be influenced by negativity on the forum, all of which is probably meaningless in the end and doesn't affect the joy of driving it. Interesting to hear how initial reaction changes as you get used to it. Not sure I've ever experienced that in a car, having loved my favorites right off the bat. Good to know as it helps explain and put into perspective complaints of others to the low windshield, etc which will be a non-issue for those who love the Viper for all the right reasons. This excellent street review, and the track review by SilveRT8 yesterday, have got me excited about buying the Viper again. I also know not to try to judge it in a brief test drive, and suspect I'll know everything I need to by seeing how I feel just sitting behind the wheel. Thank you again.

    Bruce
     
  20. ViperSmith

    ViperSmith Enthusiast

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    Bruce,

    The low windshield is def intimidating at first, but after the first few miles you forget about it and don't think twice. Stop lights are the only pain point when you are first in line.
     
  21. Bill Pemberton Woodhouse

    Bill Pemberton Woodhouse VCA Member - West

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    Really enjoyed your analogy, as I found similar experiences when I jumped into a Gen IV. The light clutch ( which I hated at first ) , the different power band, etc. made me at first long for my 2004. After about 20 minutes I was floored, and a firm believer in the upgrades. I think I was more prepared for the Gen V, but there is so much great about the car, that the sensory overload is severe for the initial phase. Once you have become one in the cocoon, the Snake becomes part of your skin and it is and extremely tactile machine, that rewards your inputs. Visibility did not bother me, as frankly seeing out of an ACR isn't a piece of cake either, ha.

    Thanks for taking the time to express your thoughts, ideas, and driving impressions.
     
  22. Nine Ball

    Nine Ball Enthusiast

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    For $17, this might be worth trying out.

    https://lightinsight.webfeatsecurity.com/default.aspx

    A newer take on an old classic mod, for chopped-top hotrods and 50's cars with the sun visor over the windshield.

    [​IMG]
     
  23. hawkeye

    hawkeye Enthusiast

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    Hi Nine Ball,

    It didn't have nav or the rear view camera, both would have been appreciated given our mission and environs at the time. There was a time when I would have said, "you don't need no stinkin nav (cup holder?)", this is a Viper!". Actually in hugely dense unfamiliar cities, or when out exploring canyons, it is really a nice option to keep the workload reasonable and not get to distracted with a phone nav system you'll barely be able to hear and would be rather risky to be trying to see on a tiny screen. Front window real-estate is rather precious and if you are running a V1 or somesuch radar countermeasures, using a window mounted garmin or tomtom isn't a real great option. So yes I would spec the car with nav and even possibly rear camera!

     
  24. Hemotoxic

    Hemotoxic Enthusiast

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    Thanks for the great review, and for spending $1,000 to get it. That's what I call taking one for the team.
     
  25. VENOM V

    VENOM V Enthusiast

    Posts:
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    Location:
    San Jose, CA
    Nick and Hawkeye, that was an outstanding review! I would much rather read an unbiased review from a couple of authentic car fanatics like you guys than the typical jaded, arrogant, full of BS drama queens from some of the mag rags. I'm serious, you guys should replace Johnny Lieberman at Motor Trend, LOL. Although I will admit that Johnny is quite entertaining and his reviews are far from boring.

    Couldn't agree more on all points. I see it this way. Most sports cars today are "civilized," optimized for comfort on the road and many do very well at the track. The Viper, to me, is a "barbarian" in the most complementary sense, for the reasons you mentioned: highly communicative chassis, a beast of an engine, a beast of an exhaust, a far from isolated experience for the driver. Translation - fun as hell for authentic car guys. I'll reserve judgement until I track mine this Friday at Thunderhill, but so far I am hook line and sinker in love with the Viper. After tracking a ZR1 for a couple of days I have an appreciation for it's outstanding track abilities, and I cannot wait to see how the Viper compares.

    I was so entertained by this thread that I skipped watching the Viper on tonight's Top Gear to read it, LOL. Thank god for DVRs. Scratch that. Thank the mighty car gods for the Viper :headbang:
     
  26. hawkeye

    hawkeye Enthusiast

    Posts:
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    Jun 24, 2013
    It was worth every penny, we both really wanted to get our hands on the car for an extended period of time to see if it would be added to the purchase list, or if we should be considering buying gen 2s and just doing the big brake kit, suspension tuning, power adders, etc. In the end both of us concluded that this is essentially what SRT had done with this new car, taken a gen 2 and done the tasteful modifications without losing the soul of the car (which was our primary concern pre-drive). So I would say, if I could only have one car between a gen 2 and a gen 5, I would take the gen 5 hands down. However, I would not say the gen 5 is of such a nature that it renders a gen 2 totally redundant either.

    A big part of the excitement is passing along our personal opinions/impressions (whatever they are worth) to others who may be looking at this car, because I think we both felt that the media was not doing the car any justice and it deserved an enthusiast-style review. I also think we are fairly objective albeit we both did love the gen 2, however we are always honest about its faults with people and that is just part of the deal with this sort of car. It isn't a for-everyone-and-every-occasion type of car, it is very purpose-built. We are not single-brand type of owners, and are not, in strict terms, fanboys. I've owned Mustang, Viper, S2000, modded 335i, Z4M, 997.2 Carrera S, 09 Z06, and now I am hunting for a Ferrari as well. So I am a real basket case in terms typical brand demarcation lines and platform types, and I am not shy to point out flaws (and all cars have flaws no matter what the journos say). It just bugs me that the majority of journalists do not really understand this car and what is intended to do / who it is intended for, and I feel sort of depressed that it is the end of an era. I can't see how the media loves the F40 (my favorite car I haven't driven...), and yet they don't seem to understand the Viper, it is very frustrating.

    Anyway I highly recommend this (renting a Viper) to people who don't have access to a gen 5 for a serious long-term evaluation, and are considering dropping 100K+ on a car. 1K is basically a tenth of the sales tax one would pay on one of these cars in CA, so it is well worth the expenditure to make sure you are not about to make an expensive mistake, and this car is certainly not for everyone, it just feels like it was meant for me :drive:

     
  27. hawkeye

    hawkeye Enthusiast

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    Thank you and the others who have replied for the kind words! I agree with your sentiments on much of the automotive media. It is very, very difficult to find someone like minded and not on the take in some way shape or form. The whole industry is somewhat corrupt in terms of access to information and early access to press cars being used as a weapon by the manufacturers to manipulate review outcomes.

    I'm sure we'll meet up at some future CA Viper event once Nick and/or I manage to get a gen 5 in the stable.

     
  28. WANTED

    WANTED Viper Owner

    Posts:
    1,934
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    Aug 26, 2003
    All I can say is WOW!!!!!!!! The best review I have read to date. The way I see it we should all pitch in and cover the cost you paid to get
    true information for all of us. I have owned 5 vipers and the gen 2 has always been my favorite. I do plan to replace my 2002 rt/10 graphite
    which i have already owned 2 of them. I totaled my last one hitting a telephone pole head on, see my gallery for pics. it has taken me 3 years
    just for my back to heal. After reading your review my plans are changing, looks like I will be calling BILL P very soon. Again I thank the 2 of
    you for this.

    WANTED
     
  29. former345bhpLS1

    former345bhpLS1 Enthusiast

    Posts:
    44
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    Jun 7, 2012
    Location:
    Berkeley, CA
    Thank you to everyone for your kind feedback, one of the great things about the Viper is the community that comes with it. I'm glad that my words are so well received, but I wrote such a positive review because the car so completely exceeded my expectations. Partly because of what all modern cars seem to be heading towards and because of the press:

    Part of the reason I had to try the car first hand was all of the negative press coming out about the car. Of course, not all of the press was negative, really just MotorTrend's coverage.
    Road & Track wrote a great initial article that was genuine praise (Jason Camissa was the author) and a comparison test with the SLS Vs GTS that the Viper GTS won (subjective win, no point scores or anything). Car and Driver said good things about the car, but it lost by points and lap times to a ZR1 (preproduction GTS). But MotorTrend is the only magazine that has tested the car several times (5 articles to date?) and they have been all over the place.
    Nevertheless, after reading the first few articles had me genuinely concerned. I found my self thinking maybe I would be better off with a C6 Z06 (used 08 or 09) at half the price of the Z06. Of course, the Z06 has issues too, like the valve guide failures and the fact that Corvette interiors are prone to "fall-apart". Worse, with all the talk of refinement and accessibility, I was convinced that this car would no longer feel like a Viper. It was such a pleasant surprise to see so much character intact, but that character is no doubt part of the reason that the media is mixed on the new car. The car has always rubbed ~75% of journalists the wrong way and it rubbed me the wrong way for the first 15-20 minutes. I seriously had thoughts of "have I outgrown this?" or "was I remembering the Gen 2 through rose colored glasses?", but time and throttle fixed all of that.

    It seems that the magazines feel obliged to credit refinement and progress with engineering. Everyone keeps saying how amazing the new GT3 is because it is faster and easier to drive, some with a quiet wimper concerning the loss of the car's character. Several have said that the old GT3 was awesome because it was entertaining at all times, while the new one is only interesting if you are running at 8/10ths or higher. I don't know why more journalist aren't making an issue out of the fact that character makes the car and modern cars have no character. Why does a good drive always have to be an easy one? It's like tee-ball driving these days, no challenge and everyone gets a trophy.

    It's ironic, the lay person has always said "why have all that power, you can't do anything with it" about sports cars. Now you can deploy 600+ hp to the ground and anyone can drive a car fast, but now it's so uninteresting that there is no need to do it. For example, Hawkeye's 911 C2S is an excellent car and is surprisingly quick at full throttle at low speeds especially. That said, after one or two acceleration runs I'm no longer interested in further mayhem, because I know exactly what will happen. It is always an exact replay of the run before and all I have to do is hold the wheel kinda straight and push the right-sided pedal to the floor. It's like operating an electric can opener (my manual can opener is harder to use than a 911).

    The Viper is so special because it is NOT like that. Every drive is an adventure and when you pull something off, even just a smooth downshift, it is so gratifying. In the Viper, you want to keep accelerating and you're not sure if you'll nail a perfect shift or put all the power down smoothly. I'm part of the mix. That said, the Gen V is a totally predictable car (if it has matching tires, intact pedal box, and all 6 hood vents attached - what the hell happened there?), it tells you what it's thinking, it works with you, and delivers insane performance. But it does it WITH YOU, not IN SPITE OF YOU, that is the irreplaceable magic of the car. After driving it, I can't belive that some were depicting it as a malevolent car, plus all the reports from the track (except MT BDC sort-of) is that the car has really approachable limits given the speeds involved.

    I predict that in 2024, a self-driving performance car will win MotorTreds "Best Driver's Car". What could be more fun, reassuring, or predictable than pressing a large red button on the dash that says "drive fast!" and have the rest taken care of for you. We are close to this reality even today, but instead of a red button you push the throttle (doesn't really matter how much), turn the steering wheel (doesn't really matter how much), press the brake pedal (doesn't really matter how much), and maybe pull a paddle to change gears (if you can be bothered). The cars sorts out the rest and you don't have anything to worry about...maybe I should just ride the bus.

    This turned into a bit of a rant, but I'm worried that the press is destroying the modern sports car by demanding quiet and ease. The cars are fast, but they don't feel fast nor do they excite.

    The new Viper is such a triumph because it has accessibility with exitement and real driver involvement. As I said at the beginning, I was worried that it wouldn't live up to my hopes and I would have definitely said that had it been the case.

    This is the best sports car that I have ever driven (I've driven all of Hawkeye's cars, but my repertoire does not match many members of this board). I would not want the Viper for a cross country trip or a run to Ikea, but for pure driving up the Highway 1 north of Stinson Beach or through the winding hills of Napa and Sonoma there is no car I would rather take.

    I will now spend a really disproportionate amount of energy trying to buy one and keep it for as long as it is road legal. I can only advise those real car buffs around me to do the same!
     
    Last edited: Sep 4, 2013
  30. eachey51

    eachey51 Enthusiast

    Posts:
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    Jun 26, 2013
    I am so happy to hear that people have the same opinions about cars as me!
     

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