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2003 Dodge Viper Convertible

2dr SRT-10 Convertible

Starting at | Starting at 12 MPG City - 21 MPG Highway

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  • $79,995 original MSRP
Printable Version

2003 Dodge Viper Convertible

Printable Version

2003 Dodge Viper Convertible

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2003 Dodge Viper

Source: New Car Test Drive

Introduction

Two goals drove the 2003 Dodge Viper to its numerical bragging rights of 500 horsepower, 500 pounds-feet of torque and 505 cubic inches of engine displacement: 1) Getting to 100 mph as fast as possible. And then 2) getting back down to 0 mph even faster.

The previous Viper made the round trip in 14.5 seconds. The new one should do it in 13.2 seconds.

Improvements to the low-volume sportscar didn't stop there: The new Viper is more aerodynamic, more refined, quieter, quicker, and better handling than the original, which went on sale in December 1991. It even has a cup holder. But the Viper has not been transformed into a sissy: Dodge says it tuned this car for the guy who likes to rip huge pieces of pavement out as he goes around a corner. It still makes the raunchy noises that side-exhaust Vipers did from 1991 to 1996.

Model Lineup

2003 Dodge Viper is available as one model, the SRT-10 roadster. (A coupe is expected by 2005.) The SRT-10 comes with a manual top with a glass backlight (rear window), a six-speed manual transmission, anti-lock brakes, a viscous limited-slip differential, power windows and mirrors, intermittent wipers, and leather seating surfaces. Also included is an alarm with remote locks.

The only engine available is a 500-horsepower 8.3-liter V10.

Walkaround

There have been Ferraris that don't look as good as the 2003 Viper SRT-10. This roadster is completely restyled, and looks significantly sleeker than the Viper everyone's seen on posters and at car shows from 1989 to 2002. Granted, there are those who think the new Viper looks too refined.

Vipers are tough to spot on the street, simply because there are only about 14,000 in the world. We think the new Viper looks better than the old car, mostly because the front and rear overhangs are smaller, so the car looks better balanced between its wheels. While the new Viper shrinks almost an inch in length, the wheels are moved outward 2.9 inches. The new Viper is wider, too, which adds to its more balanced shape. If you're used to looking at Porsche Boxster and Honda S2000 roadsters, the Viper seems huge. It appears larger than life. Even though a Corvette is almost five inches longer, the new Viper is more than 11 inches wider.

The headlights are slanted wedges similar to the original Viper's. The grille is substantially larger, and the enormous side exhaust pipes make the car look potent. The new convertible top looks like it's supposed to go with the car, versus the ball cap-style removable roof of the previous Viper roadster.

Underneath, the new car retains its backbone frame, and on top is a largely plastic body. The hood is separate from the fenders, and opens from the rear. The previous Viper's whole front body lifted forward for engine access. An aluminum double-A-arm suspension was added to the Viper in 1996, and carries over to the new car. The new frame, although three inches longer and 35 percent more rigid, is 40 pounds lighter. Overall, the '03 Viper is about 100 pounds lighter than the previous car. Chrysler promises production cars will weigh just 3357 pounds. The 8.3-liter all-aluminum pushrod V10 gains 50 horsepower over the previous 8.0-liter, bringing it to 500 horsepower.

 

Interior Features

Tall folks will still need to work out a method to gracefully enter the 2003 Viper. Our favorite ingress is to plant our left foot on the floor in front of the driver's seat, and then swing and slide our right foot and leg toward the pedals as we lower ourselves into the seat, all in one motion. This has to be done, of course, with the top down. If we try to enter using our right leg first, it gets hung up on the steering wheel. Besides, our maneuver makes us look like Tom Selleck hopping into his Ferrari 308 in reruns of the Magnum P.I. television show.

The seats coddle you more than before. They hold you tighter and at the same time are more comfortable because of their form fit. After you insert and turn on the ignition key, you reach in front of the six-speed shift lever and push a red starter button to start the engine, the same procedure needed for the Honda S2000.

The instruments and controls are angled toward the driver, instead of displayed on the center of the dash like the older car. A huge tachometer with a 6250-rpm redline sits directly in front of the driver, and to its right is a 220-mph speedometer. Every switch and vent is easier to see and reach. The climate control is not as abbreviated in function as the old car's was: Instead of having all heat go only to your feet, you can select dash vents for warm air, just like a real car. That helps a lot when it's chilly and you've got the top down. With practice, you can drop the top using just one hand while sitting at a stoplight.

Outward visibility is not as good as the old car, however. The new Viper's roof is slightly taller, yet lanky drivers still peer into the top of the windshield frame. The top corner of the driver's side A-pillar is just two hand-widths from your forehead. Looking rearward is more difficult because the height of the trunklid blocks some view. The roll hoops over the seats, however, don't get in the way, we noticed. Chrysler says the new tail is higher to promote more downforce on the rear wheels at speed, which is estimated to be 190 mph (the speedo goes to 220). The shape of the tail creates less drag, too, according to the company. There is also a bellypan under the car to cut drag, although its final shape hadn't been determined at the time of our test drives.

The pedals are closely spaced like the previous car's, enough that we could heel-and-toe without effort, but they are centered in front of the driver, instead of being offset to the left side of the cockpit. A new addition is a real dead pedal for your left foot, which we used to hold us into the seats during our drive on a twisty test track. You won't be moving your legs around while you're driving, since the extra three inches of wheelbase adds room primarily to the trunk, which now holds enough for two pack rats for a long weekend.

Driving Impressions

Mash the long-travel throttle pedal and the reason for the Dodge Viper is clear: monster acceleration. The big aluminum V10 can spin the large rear tires without being revved very high, and the new viscous limited-slip differential means both wheels leave rubber. Acceleration while underway is equally exciting, and the engine pulls from almost any rpm in any gear.

We found the 2003 Viper to be as blunt in its behavior at speed as its predecessor. It can still surprise, as we found out watching the Viper project boss gracefully spin our Viper in a corner on the test track. Up to that moment as we rode with the Chrysler group engineer, the car felt uncannily smooth, as if the big, loud creature had been domesticated.

If you can discipline yourself to drive the new Viper like a commuter, it treats you nicely, much more nicely than the previous car. Wind buffeting with the top off is greatly reduced. Seats are more supportive and the crazy bump-steer of the '90's Viper is almost all gone. Famed car guy Bob Lutz claimed during the introduction of the original that, "This is not a car that you can drive with your arm around a girl." But such a posture is easily accomplished in the new car, at least while cruising slowly on a boulevard. On the twisty test track we found the steering had much more feeling, but was heavy enough to require both hands. The steering gear is no longer related to the Grand Cherokee unit pulled off the parts shelf for use in the original Viper. It remains as heavy as the previous car's, but it also feels more calm, less likely to dart you into the wrong lane if you sneeze.

In corners the car sticks like a racecar, and if there's any body roll, we couldn't feel it. Front tires are a monstrous 275/35ZR18 size, and the rears are up to 345/30ZR19. Wider rear fenders were necessary to cover the enormous rear tires, and are responsible for the car's nearly 85-inch width. The rear wheels are a whopping 13 inches wide. Tires are run-flat Michelins, so a spare is unnecessary.

The brakes feel overqualified for their job, which adds confidence when you drive the new Viper quickly. They are upgraded to a new Brembo system with twin opposing pistons on the front calipers, which clamp 14-inch discs. These brake rotors are as big as Honda Civic wheels, so we're not surprised that we never felt them falter.

The only transmission available is the Tremec 6-speed, also used in the Corvette, Aston Martin, and Ford's Mustang Cobra. We think it felt a bit lighter while shifting, although little has changed in the linkage design.

Summary

The all-new 2003 Dodge Viper is faster and more civilized than the previous car. It's among the fastest production cars sold in America.

The previous Viper had to meet more than just racetrack performance goals to continue production. Its low sales volume, about 1300 per year, meant it had to be a low-tech roadster. (The rival $49,000 Corvette sells 20 times as many.) So anti-lock brakes and other technologically advanced systems weren't found on the original Viper.

The new Viper was designed to make money through better design and a less complicated build process, says Chrysler. Anti-lock brakes now come standard. The new refinements and performance lead us to guess the '03 Viper's price to be just below $80,000. At the astounding performance levels of this car, which rival that of $300,000 exotics, we think it's a car nut's bargain.


Model Line Overview
Model lineup: SRT-10
Engines: 500-hp 8.3-liter ohv 20-valve V10
Transmissions: 6-speed manual
Safety equipment (standard): ABS, front airbags
Safety equipment (optional): N/A
Basic warranty: 3 years/36,000 miles
Assembled in: Detroit, Michigan

Specifications As Tested

Model tested (MSRP): SRT-10 ($79,900 estimated)
Standard equipment: power windows, AM/FM/CD, fog lights
Options as tested (MSRP): none
Destination charge: N/A
Gas guzzler tax: N/A
Price as tested (MSRP): N/A
Layout: rear-wheel drive
Engine: 8.3-liter ohv 20-valve V10
Horsepower (hp @ rpm): 500
Torque (lb.-ft. @ rpm): 500
Transmission: six-speed manual
EPA fuel economy, city/hwy: 10/20 mpg
Wheelbase: 98.8 in.
Length/width/height: 175.5/84.8/47.6 in.
Track, f/r: 57.8/60.9 in.
Turning circle: N/A
Seating capacity: 2
Head/hip/leg room, f: N/A
Head/hip/leg room, m: N/A
Head/hip/leg room, r: N/A
Trunk volume: N/A
Payload: N/A
Towing capacity: N/A
Suspension, f: double A-arm independent
Suspension, r: double A-arm independent
Ground clearance: N/A
Curb weight: 3357 lbs.
Tires: P275/35ZR18 / P345/30ZR19
Brakes, f/r: disc/disc with ABS
Fuel capacity: 19.0 gal.

Unless otherwise indicated, specifications refer to test vehicle.
All prices are manufacturer's suggested retail prices (MSRP) effective as of May 25, 2002.
Prices do not include manufacturer's destination and delivery charges.

N/A: Information not available or not applicable.
Manufacturer Info Sources: 1-800-992-1997 - www.dodge.com

Copyright © 1994-2003 New Car Test Drive, Inc. 

Printable Version

2003 Dodge Viper Convertible

Safety Features & Equipment

Braking & Traction

4-Wheel ABS Std

Passenger Restraint

Driver Air Bag Std
Passenger Air Bag Std
Passenger On/Off Std

Road Visibility

HID Headlights Std
Fog Lamps Std
Intermittent Wipers Std
Variable Inter. Wipers Std

Security

Alarm Std
Printable Version

2003 Dodge Viper Convertible

Original Warranty  help
Original Warranty
An original warranty is the warranty associated with a vehicle when it is brand new. In addition to the original warranty, select items, like tires, are typically covered by respective manufacturers. Also, an act of Federal law sometimes provides protection for certain components, like emissions equipment.
The original warranty is often broken down into multiple sections, including:
Basic Warranty:
Typically covers everything except for parts that wear out through normal use of the vehicle. Examples of non-covered items are brake pads, wiper blades and filters.
Drivetrain Warranty:
This warranty covers items the basic warranty does not protect. Wear and tear items such as hoses will not be covered, but key items like the engine, transmission, drive axles and driveshaft often will be.
Roadside Assistance:
The level of service differs greatly with this warranty, but many manufacturers offer a toll-free number that helps provide assistance in case you run out of gas, get a flat tire or lock your keys in the car.
Corrosion Warranty:
This warranty focuses on protecting you from holes caused by rust or corrosion in your vehicle's sheet metal.
Please check the owner's manual, visit a local dealership or look at the manufacturer's website to learn more about the specifics of the warranties that apply to a vehicle.

Miles

Months

Dodge Certified Pre-Owned Warranty  help
Certified Pre-Owned Warranty
To be eligible for Certified Pre-Owned (CPO) status, vehicles generally must be recent models with relatively low mileage. CPO vehicles must also pass a detailed inspection, outlined by the manufacturer, which is measured by the number of inspected points.
Warranty coverage can vary from one manufacturer to the next. While most certified pre-owned programs transfer and extend the existing new car warranty terms, others offer a warranty that simply represents an additional year and mileage value. Always check with the manufacturer for the specific warranties they offer.
Common features and benefits of Certified Pre-Owned warranties include:
Age/Mileage Eligibility
To even be considered for certification, a car must be a recent model year and have limited mileage. The exact requirements are established by individual manufacturers.
Lease Term Certified
Some manufacturers offer certified pre-owned cars for lease. The length of the lease is often shorter than a new car lease, but it will cost you less.
Point Inspection
These inspections entail a comprehensive vehicle test to ensure that all parts are in excellent working order. The point inspection list is simply a numbered list of exactly what parts of the car are examined. While many inspections range from a 70- to 150-point checklist, most are very similar and are performed using strict guidelines. Ask your local dealer about specific details.
Return/Exchange Program
Some manufacturers offer a very limited return or exchange period. Find out if you will get the sales tax and licensing/registration fees back should you return or exchange the car.
Roadside Assistance
Most certified pre-owned programs offer free roadside service in case your car breaks down while still under warranty.
Special Financing
Reduced-rate loans are available through many certified pre-owned programs. Manufacturer-backed inspections and warranties help eliminate the risks involved with buying pre-owned, so buyers who qualify can take advantage of the great offers.
Transferable Warranty
When a new car warranty transfers with the certification of the car and remains eligible for the next owner, it is known as a transferable warranty. Once the original transferable warranty expires, an extended warranty takes effect.
Warranty Deductible
This is the amount for which you are responsible when repair work is performed under the warranty. Some manufacturers require a deductible while others don't, so always ask.

7-Years/100,000-Miles (whichever comes first). Powertrain Limited Warranty runs from the date vehicle was sold as new.

3-Month/3,000-Mile Maximum Care Warranty. Starts on the date of the CPOV sale, or at the expiration of the remaining 3/36 Basic New Vehicle Warranty.

A deductible may apply. See dealer for details or call 1-800-677-5782
Age/Mileage Eligibility 5 years / 75,000 miles
Lease Term Certified No
Point Inspection 125
Return/Exchange Program No
Roadside Assistance Yes
Special Financing Yes
Transferrable Warranty Yes
Warranty Deductible $100

Learn more about certified pre-owned vehicles

Printable Version

2003 Dodge Viper Convertible

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