2015 Dodge Viper GTS

In Dodge’s centennial year, a certain sensitivity to roots and origins seems apt. For the Viper, first revealed in concept form a little more than 25 years ago now, the retrospective perspective rests at the very core of its existence. Its expressive styling and muscular character harken to an earlier era of big-engine sports cars challenging drivers to test their skills behind the wheel.

For 2015, Dodge adds a Viper model, the GT, and pares the base price $15,000 to a starting MSRP of $84,995, reviving a key attribute of the original: attainability. While no one ever called the Viper inexpensive, the new price tag, adjusted for inflation, matches the original 1992 model’s $50,700 sticker (or $86,130 in 2014 dollars). Fifty grand was significant in ’92, marking Viper an aspirational vehicle, a thing worth striving to achieve. Always a reach for the average new-car consumer, Viper inspires the passionate—now it’s back within their grasp.

Available from more than 2,300 Dodge dealers, the fifth-generation 2015 Dodge Viper SRT offers a lot more car per dollar than ever, pumping 645 hp from its 8.4-liter V10 engine, a 50/50 front-rear balance and lightweight structure. It’s also a more polished and technically advanced machine with a more luxurious interior to match its seductive bodywork. Dodge and SRT CEO Tim Kuniskis reminds us, the original Viper made 400 hp, had no air conditioning, no ABS, traction or stability control systems—it was a roadster with no door windows, no proper roof—and yet it forged a reputation and a legacy, making the word “Viper” a modern-performance icon.

It’s an exclusive group, these owners. The number of Vipers produced in any given year rarely tops 3,000, lending it a rarity that makes it more likely you’ll see a Ferrari or Porsche on a given day. And yet when you see them clustered together for a show or track day club meet, the camaraderie is evident, as are expressions of personal taste and customization.

And it is no small thing that Viper owners tend to gravitate to track-day events where they can challenge themselves to master this potent machine. For those most serious about that, the lineup today includes Viper ТА (Time Attack] 2.0 Special Edition model, with an enhanced specification package of performance attributes. With 645 hp to propel only 3,390 pounds (thanks to carbon-fiber, aluminum and magnesium components), the Viper TA’s power-to-weight ratio remains the best in Dodge’s lineup, and provides cornering and braking prowess to match. It also has the biggest tire footprint going, with 295/30 ZR-18 front and 355/30 ZR-19 rear Pirelli P Zero Corsa rubber, keeping it stuck to the pavement in corners. Street-legal, the ТА has new spring rates, dampers, antiroll bars and robust brakes up to the demanding tasks of fast lapping. Together with a new rear wing and front aero devices, the changes make the Dodge Viper SRT ТА 2.0 a balanced and capable track day companion.

New for 2015 is a GT model, between the base Viper and the GTS, adding the driver-selectable suspension system (Bilstein DampTronic Select with street and track settings) and five-way adjustable electronic stability control (ESC). First-generation Vipers and the original GTS lacked electronic aids, eschewing even ABS; these first arrived due to regulatory requirements but also opened the door for more powerful iterations of the V10. Also enhancing the GT is the upgraded interior, featuring standard Alcantara and Napa leather seats with accent stitching.

Whether it’s a base Viper, the GT, GTS or ТА special edition, this is a car speaking to the heart of the enthusiast driver. There are refinement, luxury and capability levels far beyond what was imagined in 1992—and all more accessible than ever. Beneath all the improvements, though, Viper remains true to the legacy Lutz calls out: Exciting to see. Exhilarating to drive. American and exclusive. Dodge Viper is in a class of its own, simultaneously historic and modern.