SRT Viper

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SRT Viper

2013 SRT Viper

Courtesy of Chrysler Group LLC

The Viper is meant to go fast, and previous generations of Dodge's favorite racer made no apologies for the fact that -- despite the steep price tag -- there was no intention of truly competing with the luxury class. High-end European sedans might be extremely comfortable and also go fast, but the speed was an incidental benefit, a perk rather than a purpose. The Viper, by comparison, was rather coarse -- a notoriously uncomfortable entry prepped driver and passenger for a sparse interior and a rough, loud ride.

For 2013, the Viper has shed the Dodge name, and it's considered a product of the SRT team -- Chrysler's Street & Racing Technology division. (Other vehicles in the SRT family are allowed to keep their Jeep, Chrysler and Dodge nameplates, but the RWD two-seater Viper sits a bit away from the pack.) It's a bold move, for sure. It seems a bit contrary, then, that the Viper's rebirth comes a bit gussied up rather than stripped down.

The Viper features Sabelt racing buckets, which is pretty much the only businesslike part of the cabin. The rest is all luxury -- well, world-class sports car luxury, anyway. An 8.4-inch display screen dominates the dash, controlling the navigation system, Bluetooth interface and stereo (which features 12 or 18 speakers, depending on which audio package is selected). That's a lot of distractions on a racetrack, and that's a lot of speakers for a cabin that's only slightly bigger than the two seats it surrounds. And if that's still a little too raw and unrefined for you, well-heeled drivers can upgrade the interior with selections worthy of a high-end furniture showroom.

Just try to remember: The color or texture of the leather won't matter all that much when you're steering the SRT Viper through turns and using the 6-speed manual gearbox to control the massive 8.4-liter, V-10 engine that cranks out 640-horsepower. But the addition of cruise control and stability control might help ease the transitions between track days.

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