Reality check....

Beardy

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Potential Gen 3 owner looking for some confirmation and a reality check.

My main interests are in use as a soft top summer road trip car and driving something that won't get to feel ordinary in a year or two. I have driven a Gen 3 for a short period and without pushing it I found it quite benign although it tramlined like mad. I currently have a NA Miata, a 3.4 996 C2 cab and XKR supercharged 4.2 coupe. The 996 needs to be driven with commitment to get the best whereas the Jag has torque on hand and more when asked. It encourages a more relaxed driving style and is better suited as a GT, but alas is a hardtop coupe. I get about 18 around town and 22-24mpg on a trip in either. I do all my own maintenance and repairs.

The competition for the Viper would be a V8 F Type convertible, as I see it there are some real pros and cons - please correct me/comment here if I am way off base...
The F type is plenty quick enough for me, the interior is pretty nice but a little generic. It will continue to depreciate. The Viper is anything but generic and appears `over engineered' and reliable and (important to me), pretty simple to maintain. The F Type has electronics up the whazoo which pretty much commits an owner to a dealer for anything significant, whereas from what I have seen, aside from potential parts availability issues, the Gen 3 is analog / mechanical. F Type range/economy would be similar to the current Jag. I have the perception that both options may have similar cost of ownership; the Jag offers better economy but will depreciate and has the potential to throw up some big bills via dependence on third party maintenance/repairs, whereas the Viper will drink more but depreciate less.

And here is where I need a reality check: I have searched through all the online forums and site like Fuelly for realistic gas mileage figures for the Gen 3. It seems to range from the highly satisfied "2.2mpg on track", to some claims of >25 on the highway in 6th at highway speeds. While others state that they've never seen better than 16mpg under any conditions. I would anticipate some level of convergence or at least common figures at cruise, especially on a closed loop EFI engine with O2 sensors and yet figures seem to be all over the map. Range would be important to me, let alone the inconvenience of stopping every 150-200miles. If I could reliably get 20mpg at part throttle at freeway speeds thats fine, but mid teens becomes limiting..

Your input is much appreciated.
thanks
 

Zishan

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I just did 600 miles in a Gen3, with Paxton supercharger, the old set up. I've read upgrading the fuel pump, injectors, and tuning on the SCT yields better MPG, which I plan to do soon, strictly for performance reasons- not too concerned with MPG. But on my current "old" setup, I got 16-17 MPG. I was cruising around 75-80 mpg 95% of the time. Thus, I find it completely reasonable to get 20, or close to it, if relatively stock.
 

Bonkers

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I hate to be the one to burst your bubble, but if MPGs
factor into any part of your purchase then youre buying
the wrong car. This is a 500cid V10 - my truck AVERAGES
10mpg highway with this motor so anything above
16mpg in a sports car is a feat of engineering in my book.

Ive tapped 30mpg highway in my GTS on several occasions,
but that was <55mph and not very enjoyable... it was also
short lived, for as soon as you hit street traffic youre
instantly back into the sub-15s.

For whatever its worth, this is my current gas log on my GTS,
i havent raced her in 10+ years now, so this is what daily
driving numbers will look like to you over time...
 

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Mamba_153

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Great post. I've owned my 2005 SRT-10 Mamba convertible (Matilda) for 5 years.
I never worry about gas mileage, it is not good 10 to 14 MPG and I don't care. It's a sports car.

Matilda is extremely reliable and when I've had any issues I use the well written shop manuals and solve the problem. I really like working on her, she is well designed. A big plus is the Viper Club and Forums, they have great participation and are super helpful.

Powertrain is rock solid, mine is all stock and performs great. I really like the 10 spoke chrome polished wheels, I had them polished last year, cleanest wheels at every car show.

Interior is a weak spot. I love the Mamba red interior design. In 2005, the interior was probably in line with competitors, but through the years the interiors of sports car have moved really close to luxury. I've fixed interior squeaks, cracks, etc. Replaced the original stereo with a perfect fitting stereo with all features and a 10' Kicker sub woofer. The next thing to work on is the steering wheel, some of the red leather is worn, so a refurb is next for the steering wheel.

Windshield wiper blades are a pain, replacement wipers blades do not exist. I rarely get in the rain, but I buy generic replacements and use E6000 and glue them on the metal blades.

The convertible top is super well engineered, easy to open and close and seals super tight and never leaks. With the top down, there is no crazy wind noise, perfect windshield angle and cabin design prevents wind noise. The A/C is rocking, super cold and blows well. When I bought Matilda, the passenger side floor board would get super hot. I installed heat shielding in the floor, catalytic converters and exhaust pipes, magic, no floorboard heat problem any more.

During the first year one of ownership a power steering quick disconnect line failed, I replaced both lines with superior aftermarket lines. I also replaced the quick disconnect oil cooling lines as a preventative measure.

Bottom line: IMO Jags and Vettes are a dime a dozen. Matilda gets lots attention and has appreciated in value from what I paid for her.

Hope this helps.
 
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Beardy

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I greatly appreciate all the responses.
I get the impression that many owners enjoy their cars `in short bursts' and over relatively short distances, niether of which optimize mileage. Can anyone comment on gas usage over long distances?
 

GTS Dean

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My 96 GTS gets a little over 20mpg on long Interstate drives averaging around 75mph. I tend to run a bit more aggressive alignment than stock on the road so that creates a little more friction. In mixed/mostly town driving I'm between 9 and 12. At a big road course track with stock ECU and injectors, I've always averaged about 5.5 mpg.
 

MoparMap

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I actually came from a 2000 XKR when I bought my 04 Viper. Probably not quite apples to apples with your 4.2, but I found the Jag to be very boring to drive every day and not really well suited for performance driving. It had some gusto if you really asked it of it, but it felt more like the car was saying "okay, fine, we can go fast if you want" whereas I think of the Viper more like a car that you are constantly restraining. It just always feels like it's tugging at the leash and whispering in your ear to go faster. If you think the Jag is instant torque with more on demand now, the Viper is another class above. Mine makes 400+ ft-lbs from about 1500 rpm on, so no waiting for it whatsoever. The Jag also gave me very little confidence in corners, but I also never really pushed it super hard. That being said, it was a great GT car and I'd love to have one again for long cruises. Regarding your comment of the Viper feeling benign, in completely stock form I would tend to agree. I often tell people if you drive it like a normal car, it drives like a normal car. It's not a wild beast with an on-off switch throttle, it's a well engineered vehicle with a very high performance envelope. A more aggressive exhaust certainly makes it a litlte more exciting to drive. I've also swapped out the suspension in mine for some adjustable MCS units as my stock ones were starting to leak and felt a bit bouncy. Certainly a harsher ride, but it does feel more planted.

I used my gen 3 as a daily driver for years until I got married and my wife's back issues couldn't handle it regularly. I still drive it more often than not when I'm going somewhere on my own and have 135,000 miles on it. I bought it with a tune on it from an unknown shop, but it performed well and my daily commute of something like 5 miles across town with little traffic and 20 miles on the highway averaged around 16 mpg in winter and 18-20 in summer. I have done a couple of long highway trips in it. I drove it back home to Kansas from Mississippi where I bought it, to Texas for a ALMS race, out to the east coast for an event, and to the Greenbrier for another event. Pure highway driving I tend to see at least 20 mpg, or stops every 250-280 miles or so if I remember correctly. Best ever was something like 320+ miles on a single tank, which I think maybe had to do with the better quality fuel I got where I filled up (guessing no ethanol blend maybe?). Just for giggles, I think my track mileage is around 6 mpg. I have since upgraded the cam during a rebuild after I toasted some rod bearings, so my numbers have dropped a bit I think, but generally speaking they are still in that mid to upper teens range. I also tend to drive pretty conservatively.

The bigger problem with extended highway trips is the complete and utter lack of storage space in the gen 3. The convertible setup leaves very little trunk space, and you can't even fit a hard sided carry on sized bag in the trunk with the shape of it. You're pretty much relegated to duffle bag style luggage that you can deform and squeeze in. I don't find that to be a huge problem because I've always packed light, but when taking my wife along on trips that can get more challenging if you are staying anywhere more than a few days.
 
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Beardy

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Many thanks for your detailed response!

Your experience is much closer to my expectations: The power requirement to push a car along at cruise is approximately the same for cars of similar size & weight, so one would expect similar mileage to other EFI cars of that era. It's going to be lower than average due to the cylinder friction of the V10 and higher drag from big tires but not wildly. As a datapoint the EPA indicate that the 2015 Audi R8 (V10 and similar size/weight), offers 12 urban/14 hwy (19 combined). It has a sophisticated engine management system but also drags along AWD losses.

The 2000 XJR 4.0 is almost a car from another era - classic looks, but you sat on it rather than in it; more like a civilised and rather soft TR6! The 2007- X150 platform is a different proposition. Built at a time when Jaguar was owned by Ford they are also leagues apart in reliability and the 4.2 has none of the issues that plagued the older 4.0 (nor the early problems of the later 5.0). if you have any love for the marque it's well worth a look.

Luggage space is something I can deal with; my daughter and I did 3,200 miles in 8 days in a stripped out autocross NA Miata (door bars, roll bar, Kirkeys, harnesses and no AC).
 

MoparMap

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Yeah, I really did enjoy my Jag to some degree and was looking at the 4.2 cars, but at the time it was essentially my first real "commuter" car I bought right out of college when I got my job, so I was buying used and had a budget I was trying to stay under. Humorously enough I was originally hoping for something like a regular cab 4WD S10 pickup around $5000, but those don't seem to exist. That morphed into something like a WRX which upped the price to more like $7k, then I also entertained a Mitsubishi EVO, which pushed prices closer to $8-10k. My parents had an 98 XJR at the time and it was pretty comfortable, which got me thinking about Jags. I then remembered the XKR and how I always liked them since they were the bad guy car in a Bond movie, so I started looking. Coupes are hard to find though, and I don't really like the look of the convertibles as much. Got one from the west coast with 100k+ miles on it for a price I could deal with and it was my daily driver for work. Coming from a 71 Vette and a 67 Dart the Jag had pretty much every feature and option I never had in any car and still one of the best audio systems in a car I've heard. I really did like the car, it looked great, was super comfortable, had all the features, and was decently quick, but it was almost too insulated if that makes any sense. It just got boring to drive because it didn't make any noise and was an automatic. I wanted something more engaging and started looking at new Challengers. I found the 5.7 to feel similar to the Jag in the sense that it was pretty demure and only really felt like it had ***** if you stood on it. I test drove a 6.1 and found it to be more exciting and had that "always holding it back" kind of feeling, but they wouldn't deal on the price. My mom had gotten her 94 Viper at the time and I drove it a few times and had a lot of fun, but knew I needed a top and windows since it would be my daily driver, so I started looking at the newer Vipers and found I could get one for a similar price to the Challenger. And the rest is pretty much history, lol.

I'd still love to have another Jag for cruising though. It really was an enjoyable car to me, just not in everyday doses. I also went through a breakup at the time and just wanted something new. I ended up selling it to my brother's girlfriend. She started having some problems with it and we found out it had failed a head gasket. I offered to do all the work to fix it if she would buy the parts, so I spent a few days one summer digging into it and getting it fixed back up for her.
 
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Beardy

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I agree the convertible doesn't have the lines of the coupe. The trunk of the coupe is a bit long when you look at it in profile, but it is a beautiful thing.
The one thing that leaps out of your post is `Mom had a viper'. It says it all: Petrolhead DNA. :)
 
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SketchyPete

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Respectfully, from the outside it's seems like your not wanting a viper. It's not a GT car, can you drive it around the world, sure, but you shouldn't. It's a toy, a great toy, but it is what it is.
 
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Beardy

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Your point is well taken. My ideal GT car is something that can be used to cover miles but is fun to drive when you get there: Out to the mountains and then up the passes. For me this is a convertible, with lots of torque for relaxed cruising and has AC and decent range. The same car has to be engaging to drive more enthusiastically when the opportunities present. I don't anticipate going on track and speeds much north of 100mph hold little appeal, but it's the getting there that's amusing. I also want something that is `an occasion'. I have previously used a TVR 350i, 1.6 Miata, a 5.0 V8 Miata, a Z3M, an Elise, a C6, a CLK550, a 3.4 996 Cab. They have all offered something and all been compromised in some way, but for me, the most optimal were the V8 Miata and the Z3M. My current muses are the Gen 3 Viper, a SLK55 or an F-type V8.
 

viperfest

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2005 copper head for 10 years. I get mostly 16-18 around town and 24-26 at 70 to 80 mph. Yeah when I run it hard it gets about 10-12.. Also I redid the seats and had more lower back support added to them, makes all the dif.!
 

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MoparMap

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Respectfully, from the outside it's seems like your not wanting a viper. It's not a GT car, can you drive it around the world, sure, but you shouldn't. It's a toy, a great toy, but it is what it is.

Agree and disagree here some. I always say you can daily drive a riding lawnmower if you are dedicated enough and that's what you really want to do. There are most certainly limitations with the Viper such as storage space and weather limitations (mostly just snow), but there's no reason you can't use it as often as possible. I grew up with sports cars and to me the Viper is kind of normal in the sense of being a 2 seat fun car with limited storage space and low ground clearance. I'm fortunate in that I can deal with that and I have family with other vehicles I can borrow for more unique situations like running to a home improvement store for lumber or stuff like that, but the Viper was my go to vehicle because, believe it or not, it was the most comfortable/practical vehicle I had at the time when I bought it. My other cars were a 71 Vette that leaked through the tops in the rain and a 67 Dart with no weight on the rear end and it leaked through the windshield in the rain. The Viper was a modern vehicle with good A/C and sealing and drove just fine even in an absolute downpour (provided the tires were in good shape). Admittedly it wasn't the most comfortable vehicle to drive on my extended road trips, but I always enjoyed having it when I got where I was going and I learned some tricks that made trips more comfortable for me. One of them was actually using my racing harness on longer drives as I could kind of slouch into it and it would help hold me up and support my back better. The other was a small pillow under my knees I could rest my legs on. I've got longer legs and most of the time I'm resting their weight on my heels when I'm driving, which gets uncomfortable after a while. Being able to actually rest my legs on the seat helps take the pressure off.
 

JonB

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The V10 Truck commentary stats are Apples-to-Pommegranites

What Bonkers and Map said otherwise.

I have seat time in the Jag at PIR... it was the SVRA Historic Races Official Pace Car 2 years, Doris and I drove it there. The Viper would kick its ****....

Mpg cruising trans-con is about 18 mpg when crusiing at about +10 over.

Track MPG about 5 in HPDE, and 10 as OPC.

My TRX is the panic attack on fillup. and no relation other than panic level.

PS: If a prior owner added a 3:55 or 3:73, expect -18% or -22 % worse fuel MPG than OE 3:07.
 

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