out of 10
After a three-year vacation from the market, the Dodge SRT Viper returns for 2013 with all of the things that made the original car memorable. It’s in-your-face styling has been updated, but not significantly changed, and a modernized V-10 still lurks under its lengthy expanse of hood.

Thanks to federal regulations requiring features like electronic stability control and traction control, the 2013 Viper is more forgiving of errors than the car it replaces. That’s not to say it’s been defanged, since owners still have the ability to turn off stability control completely, should they feel the urge to tempt fate or raise their insurance rates. If the previous generation of Viper was the automotive equivalent of a meat cleaver, the 2013 Dodge SRT Viper is a razor-honed and polished meat cleaver, fitted with a carbon fiber handle.

The improvements to the new car are noticeable, inside and out. There’s more attention to detail, and an obvious step up in fit and finish than with previous generations. Outside, you’ll notice the LED headlight accents and LED tail lights, as well as the gracefully restyled hood. Inside, there are Sabelt seats to offer an improved driving position, a customizable instrument cluster display and an available Harman Kardon audio system.

Underneath the skin, the new Viper is some 100 pounds lighter than the old car, yet it offers up some 50 percent more torsional rigidity. Theres a two-mode damper system available on range-topping GTS models, as well as a Track Package that includes Stop-Tech brakes and Pirelli P Zero Corsa tires for maximum grip.

As with the old Viper, the key to the 2013 Dodge SRT Viper is its 8.4-liter V-10 engine, which is conservatively rated at 640 horsepower and 600 pound-feet of torque. The only available gearbox is a six-speed manual, which transmits power to a rear differential now equipped with 3.55 gears, compared to 3.07 in the previous Viper. As you’d guess that improves acceleration even further, and the new Viper’s top speed of 206 mph is reached in sixth gear, not fifth.

Base models come with an electronic stability control system that’s either on or off, while GTS models get a system that includes Full, Sport, Track and Off modes. We found that the system allows for quite a bit of tail-out fun, even in the “On” position on base models. The system is so good that SRT pro drivers find the “Track” setting to be faster than the full-off setting.

In the end, it comes down to this: the 2013 Dodge SRT Viper, like its namesake of the past, is a visceral purchase. Though blessed with improved manners, the Viper is still a bit ungainly in the real world of crowded parking lots and bumper to bumper traffic. On a racetrack, the Viper comes into its element, transforming the experience from fatiguing to invigorating. The same can be said for early morning runs on deserted canyon roads, though we’d be the first to advise against probing the car’s substantial limits anywhere other than on a racetrack.

The 2013 Dodge SRT Viper starts at $97,395 for a base model, while the better-equipped Viper GTS is priced from $120,395. For a more complete look at how the car performs on the track, see our First Drive report, and for a comprehensive overview, see our full review on The Car Connection.

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