I’ve decided to stop being lazy and write about the cars that I test drove this year; One of which I would like to own next year along with the Mini. I’ll make separate posts about all of them. All the cars are manuals w/ clutch. I’ll start with the car that I test drove last.
1994 Dodge Viper: 8.0L V10, 400bhp, 465Lb/FT 3400ish lb curb
Disclosure: The dealer only allowed me to take this around the block for a 10-15 minute test drive since (according to the salesman) they didn’t want to add miles to it (14000-ish miles on the clock)
It was late in the evening when I went to drive the Viper. Ambient temps around 60F. So there wasn’t heat for the tires anyways, add to that the tires were from 2005 (yikes!) and I was a bit uuum apprehensive.
Anyways, we did the licence check and stuff, then me and the salesperson got into the Viper. The first thing that I noticed was how tiny the cabin is. Now, I daily a car named Mini so I thought I wouldn’t be surprised but yeah, the Viper snugly for a 5'10"170lb person. Next, the ergonomics are the pretty shit: the pedals are at an angle to your left (the seat is angled normally), the clutch is in your lap and the accelerator is on the floorboard.
Anyhow, I start it up and oooooh boy does the fun start! Even at idle the V10 sounds racy but almost like its an old engine from 50 years ago.
Driving out from the dealer’s lot, the clutch is lighter than my Mini’s (probably coz mine is old and squeaky) and easy to operate, it wasn’t jerky. The brake pedal moves a very tiny amount, you can still modulate the brake easily but instead of pedal movement it was based on the pressure that you apply to the pedal (IDK if this is the case for all Vipers) Also, there is very little room to move your elbows as you turn the steering, I had to keep my elbows almost horizontal to go a full lock with hitting the transmission tunnel. The way the roof meets the A pillar means there was a pretty sizable blindspot for me.
Out on the street, at about 10% throttle it’s almost like a normal sports car. The V10 was smoother than I expected and it didnt mind me cruising in 1st at 4000rpm (redline is at 6000 rpm). Shifting gears is nice and easy, a decent sized throw but smooth (not so smooth that you can’t feel it tho).
After getting used to it for about 5 minutes, I decided to see what it can do. 1st gear, 3000rpm, 50% throttle, wheelspin, upshift, 2500rpm, wheelspin, upshift, 2500rpm, wheelspin :D
The low-mid range torque is amazeballs! If the engine is turning more than 2200ish rpm, then it just keeps pulling all the way to redline. Once, I understood how much throttle is enough to avoid wheelspin, I did redline it in 1st and 2nd at about 65-75% throttle, it is very linear (as expected) and it sounds bonkers! I had to be pretty careful about going on the throttle: I couldn’t just put my foot down, I had to feather it in.
The chassis seemed to be decent as well. I did not do any hard cornering but I could feel it losing traction everytime and when it did loose traction it did not immediately try to go sideways, it seemed to give me some time to correct it. IDK about the steering feel since no hard cornering. The front end responds nicely tho, its quite darty. Ooh and the ride quality was OK-ish, certainly livable for me.
Overall it felt like a step above C5/C6 Vettes (I’ve test driven them as well) in terms of how difficult the Viper is to drive and how enjoyable it can be, it just isn’t anywhere near as comfortable as a Vette primarily coz of the shitty ergonomics. Would I like to own one next year? YES!