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New York show: The return of the Viper

Chrysler performance brand SRT steals the NY show with its re-born Viper

5 Apr 2012

CHRYSLER tore the covers from its revived Viper supercar at the New York motor show overnight – almost two years after the previous generation model ceased production.

Formerly known as a Dodge, the new iteration of the iconic muscle car – which dates back four generations to 1992 – will instead now wear the badges of Chrysler racing and performance arm SRT.

Australian enthusiasts should keep their hopes firmly in check, however, with the car not confirmed for right-hand-drive production.

Chrysler Australia director of corporate affairs Lenore Fletcher told GoAuto today that, while the company had expressed its enthusiasm for bringing the car here to product planners in Detroit earlier this year, no decision has been made about it coming Down Under.

“People are very aware of our interest and there’s certainly a positive reaction to it, but whether or not we could see that vehicle here in Australia with the necessary engineering needed to bring it here is another thing.” Reports coming out of New York indicate that Chrysler is unlikely to pursue right-hand-drive markets – at least for the time being – due to inadequate volume projections.

198 center imageChrysler Australia previously imported a small number of Vipers in 2002 and 2003 and converted them locally.

Two variants of the new model – the standard Viper and the Viper GTS – will be produced at the same Connor Avenue plant in Detroit that has made the car since 1995.

At its heart lies an upgraded version of the old model’s 8.4-litre all-aluminium V10, now producing 470kW (up 20kW) and 814Nm (up 56Nm) – the most torque of any naturally aspirated production car – matched to an improved version of the old six-speed manual transmission with shorter shifts and closer ratios.

Improvements include a lightweight intake manifold, stronger forged pistons, sodium-filled exhaust valves, new catalysts and an aluminium flywheel that reduces reciprocating losses. The engine is said to weigh about 10kg less than before.

The exterior design is more evolution than revolution, with improved aerodynamics, although a Cd rating of 0.364 is still far from slippery.

The recognisable silhouette is complemented by new LED daytime-running lights, tail-lights and turn signals, bi-Xenon headlights and forged aluminium wheels with either five or six spokes.

New aluminium doors and carbon-fibre bonnet, roof and boot panels reduce weight significantly and more lightweight chassis materials help trim a further 45kg while increasing torsional rigidity by 50 per cent.

Both variants ride on Pirelli P Zero tyres and feature standard stability and traction control for the first time, as well as launch control via a steering wheel-mounted switch.

Stopping power is bolstered by bigger vented 355mm Brembo brakes front and rear.

GTS models feature a revamped cabin with red and black leather upholstery on all major interior surfaces, taking a leaf from the book of SRT’s Fiat stablemates, Maserati and Ferrari.

The lightweight Kevlar and fibreglass racing bucket seats sit 20mm lower than before, while the 90mm longer floorpan adds legroom and rearward seat track movement, making this the most spacious Viper yet.

The new seven-inch central screen is matched with an infotainment system including in-car internet connectivity with live traffic updates, while high-end Harmon Kardon sound systems are also available.

While the SRT Viper’s Australian future remains murky, the SRT brand (short for Street and Racing Technology) will grow its presence Down Under by lending its name to two new variants of existing Chrysler/Jeep models here.

First cab off the rank will be the high-performance SRT8 Jeep Grand Cherokee, featuring a 6.4-litre Hemi V8 and due here by mid-year, with an SRT8 version of Chrysler’s all-new 300C sedan set to follow a few months later.

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