What It Is: The second rebirth of a Motown legend. Not many details have surfaced yet, but trust us: A new Viper is happening.
Why It Matters: Since the fifth-gen Viper’s production ended in 2017, Dodge has lacked a true halo car. Sure, it has its supercharged trick ponies-Hellcat and Demon-but the Mopar faithful need something to put up against Chevy’s and Ford’s mid-engined sports cars.
Platform: As before, the new Viper will use a spaceframe with independent suspensions front and rear. A long hood with an engine tucked behind the front axle, a Viper staple, will remain. Learning from its unfortunate fifth-gen product-planning mistake, Dodge will offer a convertible from the beginning; the coupe comes a few years after launch. Aluminum and carbon fiber will proliferate, keeping mass as low as possible because the Viper is likely to lose a little grunt, at least to start.
Powertrain: Sorry, 10-pack fans, the Viper is downsizing. Chrysler is (finally) developing an aluminum-block V-8 to replace the aging iron-block anchor it calls Hemi. We’re guessing that a naturally aspirated V-8 will be the new Viper’s first engine. Taking a page from the Corvette team, Dodge SRT will likely offer the Viper in multiple performance levels. Think 550 horsepower to start and a supercharged 700-plus-hp variant (essentially a second-gen Hellcat engine) coming a year or two later. And if we know anything about the engineers at SRT, you’d better believe there will be a hard-core road racer in the works designed to challenge Porsche’s GT cars and Chevy’s upper-register Corvettes on the racetrack. A manual transmission will make it stand out against the increasingly automatic-only competition.
Competition: Chevrolet Corvette, FCA’s bottom line.
What Might Go Wrong: With Conner Avenue Assembly closed for good, it’s likely that a supplier will be tapped to bolt Vipers together, and that could lengthen the development time (think Multimatic-built Ford GT). We know SRT can build an amazing track car; FCA just needs to make sure it’s a track car that people actually want to own.
Estimated Arrival and Price: The January 2019 Detroit auto show will be the 30th anniversary of the Viper concept’s debut. It would be a fitting tribute for the next Viper to go public then, though we don’t expect to see it on the road until late 2020 as a 2021 model. Borrowing an engine from elsewhere in the FCA lineup might have a massive impact on the base price. As opposed to starting in the low six figures, the new Viper could broaden its appeal slightly by starting under $90,000.
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