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GRAN TURISMO CAR REVIEWS

Dodge Viper

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STATS

Years represented: 1996-2003
Class: Sports Car
Type: 2-door coupe
 
Country: USA
Host: GT1, 2, 3, 4, & 5
 

GTS Price:
$80,000 (GT1) // $75,410 (GT2) // $78,680 (GT3) // $78,000 (GT4) $56,200 (GT5)

SRT-10 Price: $84,880 (GT4)
 
GT5 Mileage: 27,935.3
 
*Stats below for the GTS*

Construction: molded resin injected plastic over aluminum & steel tube frame

Length: 176.7" // Width: 75.7" // Height: 47.0"
Wheelbase: 96.2"
Overhang: @6' 8.65"
Track: 59.6" [F] 60.6" [R]
Ground Clearance: 5.0"
 
GTS Weight:
3,195 lbs. (GT1) 3,375 lbs. (GT2) // 3,374 lbs. (GT3) // 3,458 lbs. (GT4 & 5)
 
SRT-10 Weight: 3,379 lbs.
Weight Distribution: 48/52% (GTS or SRT-10)
Tires: 275/40ZR-17 [F], 335/35ZR-17 [R]
F. & R. Suspension: multilink, coils, anti-roll bars
Brakes: vacuum-assisted vented discs front & back

Engine: 487 cubic-inch OHV V10
Aspiration: normal
Construction: aluminum block & heads
Fuel Syst: sequential multi-point fuel injection
Valves per Cyl: 2
Bore x Stroke: 4" x 3.88"
Compression Ratio: 9.6:1

Idle Speed: 750 rpms (GT4) 800 rpms (GT5)

Redline:
6,500 (GT1) // 5,500 (GT2) // 5,000 (GT3) // 6,000 (GT4 & 5)

Rev Limit:
8,500 (GT1) // 6,000 (GT2) // 7,000 (GT3) // 6,500 (GT4 & 5)

Layout: Front Engine / Rear Drive
 
GT3 & 4 Vipers got oil change. GT5 Viper got an oil change + engine rebuild, so it could match the power from earlier games. If I could do it all over, I'd keep power nearer to GT1's figure of 440 hp. 

Horsepower:
440 @ 5,000 (GT1)
470 @ 6,000 (GT2)
472 @ 5,000 (GT3)
472 @ 5,200 (GT4)
467 @ 5,000 (GT5)  

Torque:
493 @ 3,500 (GT1)
491 @ 4,000 (GT2)
505 @ 4,000 (GT3)
514 @ 3,700 (GT4)
509 @ 4,000 (GT5)

Lbs per HP: 7.2 (GT1) //  7.0x (GT2 & 3) /// 7.33 (GT4) /// 7.40 (GT5)

HP per liter: 61.03 (GT1) // 58.99 (GT2 & 3) /// 59.0 (GT4) ///58.40 (GT5)

Credits per HP: $181.82 /// $160.45 ///  $166.69 /// $165.25 /// $153.31
 
Transmission: 6-Speed Manual
Differential: limited-slip

0-60 mph:
GT2: 5.0x seconds             
GT3: 4.366         
GT4: 5.233
GT5: 4.623

0-100 mph:
GT2: 10.2 seconds           
GT3: 9.516    
GT4: 9.800
GT5: 9.430

0-150 mph:
GT2: no test                    
GT3: no test             
GT4: 21.833
GT5: 21.917
 
400 M:
GT2: 13.244 @ 114 mph   
GT3: 12.557 @ 116     
GT4: 12.778 @ 117
GT5: 12.772 @ 117
 
1/4 Mile:
GT5: 12.886 @ 118 mph

1 KM
GT2: 22.789 @ 152mph    
GT3: 22.691 @ 151      
GT4: 23.008 @ 152
GT5: 22.537 @ 152
 
1 Mile:
GT5: 30.943 @ 170 mph

Braking Tests 
100-0 mph: 3.287 seconds (GT3)                
                     4.18 seconds (GT4)
                     5.00 seconds (GT5)

Track Test Lap: 1:29.812 (GT2) // 2:09.583 (GT4) // 50.703 (GT5)

Skidpad (real-life): 0.98g

Viper GTS Top Speed at Redline (GT3)
1st: 46.6 mph
2nd: 68.5 mph
3rd: 94.5 mph
4th: 123.7 mph
5th: 169.5 mph
6th: 190.1 mph @ 3,850 rpm

GT4 Viper GTS Top Speed at Redline
1st: 54 mph
2nd: 83 mph
3rd: 115 mph
4th: 150 mph
5th: 193.7 mph @ 5,750 rpms (could not make redline in this gear)
6th: 188 mph @ 3,750 rpms
 
GT5 Viper GTS Top Speed at Redline
1st: 53.6 mph
2nd: 78.6
3rd: 110.0
4th: 144.5
5th: 189.4 mph @ 5800 rpms (could not make redline in this gear) 
6th: 186 mph @ 3,850 rpm (gearing limited: lost speed in this gear)

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---------------------EXTERIOR / HISTORY-------------------

I don't care what anyone says, the Dodge Viper was the quintessential production sports car made in America during the 1990s. Now that the new millenium is here, finally Chevy has caught up to Dodge with their Corvette Z06, and Ford's GT can't be discounted either; although the GT is no longer in production. But before these others caught up, the Viper was King.

In  its early days, the Viper crossed that line few others dared to cross; the line between fantasy and reality. It was not just some futuristic car to see at an auto show, it could be purchased, provided the buyer had a lot of money, of course. Back in the '90s, the Corvette was the only other true mass-production American sports car, but wasn't as powerful or capable as the Viper in many respects. This means
 the Viper had barged into a genre that used to be owned solely by the Corvette (an American with 2 seats, a big engine, oriented towards performance, lots of "go"), and did it with a fresh look.

Now some history. The Viper was originally meant as a "historical take" on the AC/Shelby Cobra according to the Viper Wikipedia page. Carroll Shelby himself was "heavily involved" in the creation and design of the original RT/10, and had something to do with the later GTS as well. Originally, the Viper was called "Copperhead", but later Dodge or Chrysler changed this to Viper for whatever reason. Somebody over there obviously had a thing with snakes. :p Dodge initially didn't intend for this project to go all the way to production. In 1989 at the Detroit Auto Show, their show-Viper caused a big stir apparently, and Dodge motors saw dollar signs. $$

The first production Viper rolled off in December of 1991. It was an RT/10, a semi-convertible, which has a T-top rather than a full roof like the GTS coupe. This car could be delivered in any color, so long as it was red. The GTS didn't arrive 'til 1996. Despite the fact that it had more options (like power windows and air-conditioning), the new GTS weighed less than the old RT/10, due to the fact that it was full of about 90% new, lighter parts including composite plastic body panels built on an aluminum tube frame.
 
Another interesting tidbit is the GTS has a slightly higher roofline than the RT/10. This was not just a convenience for taller people, the intention was also provided so that drivers who raced these cars could throw their helmet in the back without worry of it banging the roof!

Dodge struck gold with this car...not only in the showrooms, but on the race tracks. The GTS-R took victories at the '97, '98, and '99 FIA GT2/GTS championships, and won at Le Mans in 1998 and 1999 as well. To this day, Vipers are still real-life competitors, though they're not quite as drastically strong winners like they were when they first hit the scene, simply because their main competition (Porsche, Chevy, BMW, etc) has also upped their ante.

Some people love the Viper, some people hate it. Some others (like my housemate, who also happens to be a GT2 fan) are intrigued but have no idea how to control the darn thing!  In real life, a viper (the animal, not the car) is a poisonous snake. There are many varieties of vipers all over the world, but generally they all share the qualities of stealth, slitheriness, and a deadly attack if they can manage to surprise their victim. But the car-Viper?  It isn't stealthy, but it certainly is a slithery one on the race tracks, and if you can control it, it has a hell of a bite out of corners.

For some reason, the Vipers of Gran Turismo 1 can be lightened significantly more than the versions from later games. 2,169 pounds for the GT1 Viper with a racing kit, as opposed to 2,881 in GT2. The final weight of the GT4 car is close to the one in GT2, despite the lack of a race kit, at 2,884 pounds. GT5 allows a minimum of 2,812 pounds for a '99 GTS. As we shall see, the latter Vipers in latter games, despite being heavier, can be loaded with more power, and get three engine upgrades instead of just one. In GT4, the Oreca can have two turbo upgrades, and dealer-bought Vipers can get superchargers in both GT4 and 5!
 
This reflects real-life to some extent. The Viper (like many other production autos) has gotten heavier over the years. Racing development has spurred the need for the awesome power upgrades available to real-life teams, as well as us gamers. Perhaps this is why the power-upgrades in the first Gran Turismo aren't so great.  

There are several versions of the GTS, including a prize car in GT1, and two prize cars in GT2 (the STP and GTS-R Vipers can be won, the Team Oreca car can be bought for a million credits). In GT3, they scaled down a bit...only the GTS and Team Oreca cars can be bought...and the Viper GTS-R "concept" can be won, tho it is not as capable a car as a normal GTS despite its fancy fender flares and larger wing. And in GT4, the '99 GTS is now in Dodge's "classic" lot at the dealership. We can also buy the 2003 Viper SRT-10 roadster as a new car. The famous stalwart Oreca FIA/GT2 racer hasn't succumbed to either inflation or degradation, and can still be bought for $1,000,000. The Viper GTS-R concept is back too, and can be won, but (again) isn't as capable as a regular GTS.

I mostly have experience with the dealer's cars, though I did race the GTS prize from the first game, which has more power but also about 600 more pounds than the normal, race-modded car. When comparing lap times between these two, notice that the dealer's car is easier to drive, and you'll get better, more consistent lap times with it.

In GT2, it seems the Team Oreca car could be the one with the best power-to-weight ratio since it only weighs 2,535 pounds and has about 700 hp, as opposed to the dealer's car which can be modded up to 716 hp with 2,881 pounds. And even though it has a few less horses under the hood, the Oreca is the one that will most easily dominate the game, and so I actually prefer a full-modded GTS in this game since it isn't as "overkillish".

In GT3, the Oreca became one of my main racing cars to use in many fast-paced Amateur, Professional, and Endurance events. Even though it is a GT2-class vehicle under FIA regulations, I regularly took it up against superior GT1 and Group C-class autos like the Mazda 787B, Toyota TSO20, and Nissan R390.  In fact, I used my Oreca in these events against full-racing cars more than I used my "regular" GTS against production cars, since the GTS simply kills too many enemies in its path a little too easily.

In GT4 (again), I haven't found much use for either the GTS or the SRT-10 for most early production-car races because they simply slaughter everything in their path, like Sylvester Stallone in an action flick. Their awesome power starts to make more sense (and isn't so damn overkilly), once these Vipers are entering Extreme Hall events and Endurance races. Slap a wing kit on them, and the dealer-bought GTS and SRT-10 make great (but not too great) competitors against JGTC, DTM, and other FIA/GT2 race cars that appear during various enduros. The Oreca version in GT4 is odd..it is now too fast for some races, but can usually keep up with GT1s and Group C autos during some Pro or Extreme-level races (GT World Cup and All Stars are a couple examples).
 
The Viper in GT5 can safely see service earlier than in GT4. I first used one during this game's Professional Series, starting in the Supercar Festival, and continuing during the World Championship and again in various Extreme, Expert, and Endurance races. At this writing, I am focusing on the '99 Viper GTS found in this game's used car lot, but there are also three Premium-level snakes to be wary of: a Level 10 2002 Viper GTS, Level 12 2006 SRT10 Coupe, and Level 15 2008 Viper SRT10 ACR with a partial wing kit factory-installed. These are quoted at 449, 509, and 603 horses respectively. The two latter cars (the SRT10 and ACR) are from this car's second generation, which features a slightly different look, and slightly better aerodynamics, I believe.  
 
The '99 and '02 GTS both feature a mid-range horn, slotted visibility (from their interior view) and sideview mirrors which aren't very useful unless one's head is turned. The center mirror is about 75% on-screen when using Wide view, so overall visibility is not tops. When visiting GT Auto, I was disappointed by the fact that the '99 can only receive a rear wing, but no other body-kit options. The '02 Viper GTS however can get everything except a rear extension. Neither car can be fully swapped-over for racing gear, but I suppose this is what the Oreca Viper is for. Apparently, there are now two versions of Oreca Viper to strive for in the used car lots.     
 
I did drive a 2002 GTS for the Supercar Festival, and since it's Premium, let's have a look inside to see what's going on.
 
My first drive was around Test Track X. The sky was dark; morning was just beginning in the imaginary world of wherever TTX is supposed to be. The dash was completely dark except for a series of gauges featuring yellow-lighted lettering and red needles. From left to right, we've got an easy-to-glance tachometer, a speedometer (both of these are directly in front of the driver), and on the center dash there's four smaller dials: temperature gauge, oil pressure, fuel, and I believe the fourth gauge measures battery voltage.
 
I like this; I like the fact that this car's only got simple dials to show us the basic info. There's no navigation screen, no port to hook in an iPod, and none of the computerized gizmos that everybody seems so fascinated by lately. 5,000 rpms is where peak power is in this car (according to PD's garage dyno), and 5,000 is also conveniently where the very top of the tach points, with the redline offset about 30 degrees or so to the right. Perfect! What this means is the driver always knows when this car's making its top power (the tach needle's gonna be pointing straight upwards, or perhaps slightly to the right, depending on power upgrades). It's also a very useful device, showing us when it's a good time to shift gears. The speedometer gives us 200 mph (more than we'll need while power is stock), and is also easy to read.   
 
During the Supercar Festival, I drove both a '99 and '02 GTS, just to see what the difference is between Standard and Premium handling-wise, and these differences will be discussed in the Handling section below. In both cases, the V10 engine can be tamed for non-dominance, but since these snakes are so flexible to drive in this game, it's still possible to wind up simply removing competitors out of the way one by one. The Viper's poison can still be quickly infectious, and its predictable, slithery behavior can still help us reach the checkered flag first, by often allowing us to slip by others while out-cornering them.  
    
Notice a pattern here? The Viper can be used to dominate, and slay, but also unfairly cheat most of the events in any GT game. It has its place for pros, too--usually in the highest level races of GT it can attend. Now let's find out why.
 

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-------------------ENGINE / DRIVETRAIN--------------------
 
Here we have one of the most famous powerplants of automotive history. In our game (and other games besides Gran Turismo), there's little to worry about in the power department. 

There were 85 engineers involved with the creation of the "Team Viper" engine project. The Viper's V10 engine was originally for Dodge's Ram trucks; a cast-iron block with cast-iron heads that was thought to be too heavy for a sports car. Chrysler conveniently owned part of Lamborghini at the time, and few people know that Lambo got the job of re-tooling the original iron engine into an aluminum one, to make it lighter. That's good news, eh?  During its design stages, some engineers felt that the overhead-valve system was antiquated. Two valves per cylinder was not enough, they thought, and they wanted a modern set of cams with 4 valves per cylinder instead. At the time however, cost was an issue, so an OHV system pushing 2 valves it was.
 
Here we have an example of American ingenuity at its best and its worst. Yes the car is fast, gets to 100 mph in less time than many cars can make it to 60, and can approach 200 mph before the engine has been modified, but it also gets some really crappy gas-mileage, which we didn't need to worry about till GT4 came along! Despite the gigantic, 700-ish pound 10 cylinder engine, the horsepower-to-liter ratio stands in the low sixties (and varies a bit from game to game. These sorts of numbers are similar to what you'd find in many typical muscle-cars, and are topped by many production engines (mostly smaller ones) by 40 or more horses per liter! But in the long run this doesn't matter, as soon we'll find out.

Notice that the Viper's massive engine has whalish amounts of mid-range torque, which exists in the heart of any Viper engine anywhere from 2,000 rpms to 5,500 RPMs. This means that it's best to race this car with a manual tranny, often shifting gears somewhere below the redline, which will give this snake better high-speed acceleration than if you wait till redline (this is true of all Vipers except for the one in Gran Turismo 3, as I'll explain in a minute). Oddly, the Viper's redline has changed several times in the history of Gran Turismo, perhaps because several years of GTS ('96 thru '99) have been represented in different Gran Turismos? Let's review the specs below.

Redline:
{6,500 (GT1)}
{5,500 (GT2)}
{5,000 (GT3)}
{6,000 (GT4 and 5)}

RPM Limit:
{8,500 (GT1)}
{6,000 (GT2)}
{6,000 (GT3)}
{6,500 (GT4 and 5)}


The cars in GT2 and GT3 are the worst. PD screwed up here massively, since  in GT2, redline is at 5,500 rpms yet peak horsepower is at 6,000 when track tested. The redline in GT3 is at 5,000 rpms, while peak power shows up at 5,200. What the hell??? Automatic tranny drivers are in trouble, since their car will shift at 5,500 rpms in GT2, and 5,000 in GT3, so theoretically power will never hit peak. Manual drivers also get a sore lesson here, as they don't have much of a window to navigate those extra revs! Very unrealistic and annoying at times. PD fixed this in GT4 thank goodness, just like they've fixed some odd powerband situations in other cars throughout the years.

Another thing to learn about the Viper--in case you're new to Gran Turismo, is that yes it is fast, but it's also tempermental, cranky, and generally a bitch to drive if you're not used to it. ...As expected, when more power gets added, the crankier, more tempermental, and bitchier it gets!

So far as parts go, this is a great one to use limited-slip differentials with if you're playing GT2 or GT5. In the 3rd or 4th game, it'll take awhile before the Viper will truely need one...probly till it's got Stage 2 power if you're experienced. They obviously tried to imitate the stock LSD system that the real-life dealer-bought cars have, because rarely will you find any unwanted wheelspin out of turns of all kinds. The key word is 'try', though. How is a Viper really supposed to exit turns?  I've never driven a real one, but I prefer this car in GT2 and 5. GT3 and 4's Vipers have that 'sanitized' feel that many other rear-drives suffer from.  
 
We've got some pretty fat tires in the rear, so traction in a Viper with near-stock power (or sometimes up past Stage 1 or 2, depending on the game you've got) will always be a default, but in some games we can break this car's traction quite easily, while in others we can't.

As far as gearing goes, it's safe to use the super-close box for all of GT1's challenges except the Normal Car Series (which a Viper will eat, digest, and spit out a fat $400,000 by the way). In GT2, it's best to go with the racing gearbox.

I like racing my car with a stock tranny in GT3, 4, and 5, even though 5th gear is noticeably dialed in for Test Course speed. Close gearing comes in handy here and there, but it also seems to mess with lap times in some situations, since drivers might be shifting more than they'll be relying on the power. It is interesting to note that in real-life, the Viper's tall 6th gear is not only dialed for speed, it also helps it acheive gas mileage in the mid-20s (miles per gallon) ... if it's driven no faster than about 60 mph. Yeeeeah..that'll happen. 6th gear never becomes useful while power is stock or nearly so. This only changes once the car's got some monster-power under that hood; 6th gear can now become an ultra-low speed we can choose once we're getting over 200 miles per hour. Assuming the power's there, the Viper will now pull higher and higher speeds in 6th, instead of losing speed like a slowly-deflating balloon.

The dealer-bought GTS and R/T of GT1 can only take one engine modification (which will boost power to 571 hp with 597 ft-lbs. of torque). For the most part, we can't even use this extra power 'til the fully modified racing kit is on. Thankfully, there are far more options with the Vipers in later games.
 
A fully-modified GTS in GT4, for instance, makes 661 bhp and 777 foot-pounds with a supercharger, or 914 bhp with 922 foot-pounds with a stage 3 NA kit! This sort of power is safer to use, oddly, in this later game. In GT5 we're talking . But remember: this is a rear-drive (RWD) car, eventually prone to many faults RWDs have. You'll spend about half of your racing career giving it less-than-full throttle, for fear of spinning out in corners. This sort of behavior becomes most problematic in GT1, 2, and 5.  

So what's the reward? Why would anyone want to bother with this car when there are all-wheel drive Skyline GT-Rs, Mitsubishi GTOs, Formula Ones, GT1s, or the Estupido, all equipped with more available power and an easier drive? The answer is art. As in: driving this car is an art...driving the Viper is like creating a WORK of art...

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-------------------CHASSIS / HANDLING-----------------

...and once you get the hang of it, you'll experience some beautiful moments in a Viper. Truth be told: I actually learned to drift in a GTS...not something weaker, and it happened quite by accident. But this depends on which game is played. From GT1 to GT4, the Viper (stock) went from being a multi-purpose handling vehicle to one with some issues (and even annoyances).

GT1 or GT2
The Viper GTS or RT/10 is at its funnest, most capable, and most daredevilish, but is not 100% realistically portrayed. Once I got used to the speed, I noticed that in some corners I couldn't help but get a little sideways. It happens with ease, and after awhile, I found myself predicting when and where the Viper will slide with accuracy.

Sometimes, one can actually get better lap times in a sliding Viper. Other times, it becomes fully necessary to drift, counter-steer, and balance the car before planting the accelerator and letting the V10 walk and talk. Finally, all that stuff in the Reference Manual about friction circles and feint motion starts to make sense, and though this automobile may not be the most efficient one to race, it certainly is a hell of a lot of fun, and it will baste others which dare get in its way.

At times when you race this car, you'll notice it's gone too far...rather, YOU'VE gone too far! Maybe you've forgotten to use enough brakes, maybe you've applied gas too early. In hairy times like these, it's best to just let go: let the car situate itself, and once it's straightened out, it's time to let the Viper strike!

But still, there are moments when a GTS or RT/10 will fail. Sometimes, it will spin or lose control, and you may find yourself getting pissed (as my previous roomie did). But if we compare the Viper to the NSX, for instance (especially in GT1), we'll find that the Viper is far more predictable at both high and low speed. Its massive tires help a lot, as well as those Brembo brakes and race-proven suspension.

GT3
The huge difference in this game is the Viper's rear-end. When stock, it is all about traction, traction, traction, a lot of the slippy-slidey behavior from the First Gen games is gone. Is it now more like the real-life version is supposed to be? Hmm. 
 
Even with normal tires. The drifting magic from earlier games (when one could easily and predictably get it sideways almost at will) is just about gone. Once serious power is being added (let's say..Stage 2ish), the GTS takes on a more serious role, and requires more concentration if it's to be slung sideways. Unfortunately, it isn't as much of a safe drifter as it was in GT1 and 2, unless the driver is highly skilled. Assuming we manage to break traction from the rear in GT3, it can either go well or really, really wrong.  

Crushing opponents duing many races is still easy, though, and the Viper can still become a cheatin' machine. But as power gets added, the Viper becomes more difficult to drive and race (just like in earlier games), but the difference is it's not as fun. That's a good way to put it: more difficult, not really pure fun. Not in this game. But for the pro-racer who cares about lap times, cornering capabilities, and doesn't mind that this car likes to have small sliding-parties (rather than long, grandiose drifts) the Viper is still a very satisfying ride in this game in the sense that it's challenging, brutal, and doesn't just offer its best behavior to those who don't know much about taming it.
 
 
GT4
Now we add understeer to the Viper's capabilities, especially once we're really pushing this car to its limits. Understeer!  Aren't you excited? I'm actually not.
 
 The back-end starts off just as tame as it was in GT3, but as serious power is added, it starts to get more and more  "oversteery" with wheelspin at times. Vipers wind up getting slithery in this game, like an angry snake...even with racing slicks. More thought must be given towards braking distances; it is no longer possible to brake late, get sideways, and hold a drift at all, unless you're somewhat of a pro drifter driving on crappy tires. This is true of both the GTS and the SRT-10 roadster. These negative, "not-as-fun" qualities aren't always present, so don't take this review as completely bad, but this is something to be aware of.

Before these negative areas (understeery, excessive oversteer & sliding) are reached, the Viper still has TONS of capabilities though, handling many tracks of all types with ease. It's still a very stable, predictable car for those who know how to dance those corners with it. Power-oversteer can still be used as a tool on occasion. Not for drifting, but for exit-corner strategizing that will help the rear-drive car "steer" out of turns by skillfully using throttle. To do this, first step is to get rid of that limited-slip device! ... assuming you've got one installed. Once great power is being used, LSD becomes more necessary, but in a near-stock car it's not needed. 

When entering corners at high-speed, it is possible to trail-brake GT4 Vipers into turns, getting slightly sideways, and then using the gathered cornering force to steer into that curve before stomping the gas. This is true with the Team Oreca version, as well as the dealer-bought models. Very snake-like at these moments. Matter of fact, you may find yourself spending a lot of time setting up the Team Oreca version so that it doesn't get sideways! This is because the Oreca car wants to please, but overcompensates at times. In GT4, the Oreca GTS can unfortuantely be a dangerous car to drive in those super-fast events, assuming the driver isn't very good. This goes for the dealer-bought GTS and SRT-10 as well; although these two models are heavier and therefore more stable than the Oreca.   
 
In real-life, the Viper's brakes were its weakest point. Although quite capable, they feature longer distances when compared to others of its class (Porsches, Ferraris, NSXs, and even the Corvette). Initially, the first-gen RT/10 did not have ABS. ABS was introduced later on, but did not improve the situation enough. I only bring this up because in GT4...beware. This inferior braking action has apparently been modeled into the car. Notice: braking has to begin EARLY if you're using normal or sport tires. If a braking zone is missed, we all know what happens, right?
 
GT5
The more things change, the more they sometimes stay the same! 
 
I encountered my first Viper GTS in this game roughly three years after GT5's debut in November (or was it December?) of 2010. In this game, the GTS becomes needed during the Supercar Festival, and its career continues on from here, as we can also use it to become the Pro-level World Champion, and attack during a few others later in A-spec. My initial drive in Five was done at High Speed Ring II, where the first set of "things that change, and things which stay the same" quickly became evident.
 
Things that have changed: Oversteer (and drastic oversteer, at that) is now on the menu of treats for us to savor. So sit down and grab a fork. This quickly became evident while driving out of Turn 3 at this track. Turn 3 is the first right-hander which isn't banked. Anyways, here I gave a little too much gas while aiming for Turn 4 and WHOA there goes the rear end, twitching like the snake it actually is!  I did not expect this. I've been so used to GT's tamer Vipers from the last two games, I did not expect the rear to slip like that. 
 
Things which have stayed the same: Basically everything else, starting with brakes. That 5.00 second 100 to zero result during testing is a giveaway; several performance cars I've tested during the last few months are able to reach into the mid-to-high 4s. I also noticed that the '02 Viper which I later tested stopped in slightly less time than this (4.987 seconds), therefore Dodge must be aware of the problem, and tried to correct it. 4.987 is still below-par though, considering there are plenty of others out there willing to make 4.8 or less.  
 
It doesn't just stop with the testing though. Braking into High Speed Ring II's very first curve (the highly-banked right), the driver also might notice this car (as in earlier games) still needs lots of braking-time to slow its pace. If there isn't enough braking into turns, some understeer does begin to show up (which is another thing which has stayed the same), but this understeer isn't nearly as dreadful as what was encountered during GT3 or 4. At least, not at a track like High Speed Ring.  
 
Mid-turn, everything usually feels great, once braking is done and the gas-pedal has not been touched. But once we need to touch it, beware!!  You might have slightly better luck handling an actual live snake! On the other hand, I am loving the fact that the Viper is now 100% Grade A Fun Material again, and with a rear-end which actually responds to throttle input.  It's dangerous, but it's fun. It's difficult, but it's thrilling to drive again, just as it was in the first two games.
 
So in which games did PD get it right?  GT1, 2, and 5, with their wilder back-end behavior?  Or GT3 and 4, where the Viper is portrayed as a duller car? To be honest, I have no idea, nor do I care. I prefer my snakes lively, wily, and tricky-to-handle. 1, 2, and 5 win the contest in my book.
 
There are other good things to note. There's the fact that this car doesn't just understeer into every turn as it did in the previous game, which means the Viper is now more tossable. If some pushing is encountered on-entry, give a tap of brakes, crank that steering hard (or in some cases, release it a bit) and the front-end will consider this for a moment before predictably turning inwards more strongly. We've finally got some real lift-off oversteer folks, after (what?) 10 years of half-baked trail-brake nonsense?
 
"Predictably." I just used the word predictably -- which is not a word I've associated with this car in the past, unless we're talking about its engine, or its annoying understeer in the last two games. Once actually racing my mustard-colored 2002 GTS, it becomes evident how predictably it now handles, especially on the soft sport tires required by the Supercar Fest. ... Trying to get through a turn, but a sluggard Maserati is partially blocking the way? The front-end now predictably works with us to make this happen, by often allowing us to point the long nose of this snake this way and that. Trying to blast away from a group of slow-shifting A-spec drivers, but the steering input the Viper has got is so extreme, the tail is now getting too wild with throttle? The rear of this car still has plenty of traction. Lay off the gas a bit, and the Viper works with us again. Steering, throttle, brakes, lift-off, throttlesteer ... it all kinda blends together now in GT5, creating a Viper that feels a lot more like a sports car instead of a muscle car that looks like a sports car.      
 
But then, we move on to Nürburgring's GP/F track (Stage 3 of the Supercar Fest), where it's quickly obvious that the Viper is going to need some help to maintain its status as King of the Jungle. While I managed High Speed Ring with zero suspension, brake, and drivetrain tuning, keeping the car un-tuned for GP/F is a bad idea. At this track I drove a '99 GTS initially, and then switched to the '02 model.
 
1999 Dodge Viper GTS
To start this comparison off, I made sure to give the '99 Viper (which has some miles on its odometer) a GT Auto chassis overall to even both cars up. They both weigh the same and have the same aerodynamics, but there are some differences here as well. I figured the '99 car could need such a service to get it up-to-par in comparison to a brand-new car.  
 
The '99 has softer springs, I've noticed: 3.6 and 3.2 front to rear, compared to 5.6 and 5.2 for the 2002 model. This might not get noticed at a wide track with large margins of error, but at Nürburgring, all the flaws come out. Turns out, this car does still understeer. Quite a lot, actually. It gets to be painful!  Throttle must also be maintained constantly and delicately, or else that rear's going to destroy everything we've worked so hard for as we're hot-lapping. This Viper constantly feels as if it's bending its tube-frame chassis with every tight turn, but the truth is this one's got such weak springs underneath; this seems to be the #1 source of the problem.
 
 Brake distances are incredibly long, too. After driving this particular track for hundreds of laps by now, I've been used to certain braking zones. Into the first turn for instance (the super-sharp right hairpin), I know by now to brake most cars at about 150 and 125 meters. Is it okay to try this in a stock Viper?  No. Um, try starting earlier!  There is no marker for the very first braking zone this track presents, so I estimate somewhere between 200 and 175 for the GTS here. 
    
I managed 2:24.203 at best under these conditions, and improved this to 2:22.508 after transmission, drivetrain, limited-slip tuning was accomplished. The fixed sport suspension was also installed, which firmed those coils up to 5.4 and 4.8, and brake tuning of 7/4 front to rear helped this snake massively in the slowing department. I could now use 150 meters as a good spot to begin braking into GP/F's first hairpin.
 
2002 Dodge Viper GTS
My '99 is red, and my '02 is blue, hence the colored text above for each car is similarly-colored. At this point, the blue car (the '02 Viper GTS) was still breaking its engine in, and only possessed 440 horses. After putting a new ECU under that hood it had 467 hp, which means its power was now comparable to the red '99 car.
 
Right off the bat, it's quickly noticed how much better the front-end feels. Turn-in is quick and precise. It's still easy to mess it all up with some bad driving, and therefore we still need to be careful while driving (handling, actually...) this snake, but here we have a friendlier, slightly tamer Viper to play with. It's still got some front-end flaws, and still has a bite out of turns that goes from nasty to nastier a little too quickly, but it's obvious now that PD definitely tweaked this car in comparison to the used (Standard) '99 model. Roaring out of hairpins didn't feel so slippery and slithery in the un-tuned blue car, and those firmer coils kept it from getting too wild with body-sway during key areas, like the Schumacher S-curves.   
 
As I did a lap with the red car's ghost replay playing, the un-tuned blue car was not necessarily walking away from the tuned red car, but it was certainly keeping up with it. Managed 2:22.962, only slightly worse than the 2:22.508 posted earlier.  
 
After this, I didn't even bother to race the '99 at the actual GP/F Supercar event. I am confident that it could win here, but it would take more work to achieve this win. With the same settings used in both cars, the '02 Viper got to the leading Ferrari California a little too easily, and during Lap 2, at that. The 7/5 brake settings guaranteed the car could now slow into that first dreadful hairpin starting at 150 meters, or perhaps 175 assuming the car got a good draft down the straight. The differential settings (5-25-10) gave the blue car a nearly-solid rear-end, which would grip down with traction first, and then break this traction if I wanted this to happen. But before this happened, there's always a couple moments when the rear is (at least) completely solid, rather than sliding all over the place. 
 
During the replay, I could also see that the suspension wasn't as firm as I had thought, as the body leaned this way and that like a rowboat in a ripple. Despite this, the car felt a lot more solid to drive, and did not break its grip, unless the issue was really forced or something.
 
The bottom line?  The Viper GTS in Gran Turismo 5 is fun and frivolous again, is not for everyone, but those who can handle one should not be disappointed.             
 
Summary
Overall, the Viper is still a great car. As we've moved from the nineties and into the new millennium, there are some things that are bothersome. But bottom line? We can still crush when driving one. So for those who dare, take a Dodge Viper to the tracks. Kill a Skyline if you can!


 

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the elusive blue Viper race kit (GT1)

PROS---------------------------------------

1). Loads of power and torque. Not a problem here.

2). The GT1 car in particular won't need full upgrades till you're doing enduros and the GT International World Cup races. In GT2, all of your power upgrades (including full Stage 3 tuning) can be used without cheating in the World Cup and GT500. The GT3, 4, and 5 cars can accept way more (900-ish+ hp) than GT1 & 2 models, and to my satisifaction, it is possible to use all this available power (heh heh...) in some GT3, and 5 races without cheating.

3). 6-speed transmission is standard. The GT1 car gets a 7-speed when we modify it, though 7th gear is never actually needed.

4). Good power-to-weight ratio. The GT1 car can be made lighter than the ones in latter games, but the latter cars get more power. ;-D

5). Suspension and brakes are usually up to the task before modification (in GT4, it's just the suspension). Stock tires take some getting used to for some races, but will do the trick if you're good at driving at the edge in earlier games. The GT5 Premium Vipers can also be included here, but used (Standard) Vipers may need some help.

6). Engine mods (especially the in-cockpit soundbyte of the GT1 car) sound delicious. Listen to that V10 roar.

7). Great looking ride, especially with all those wheels we can shod it with in some games.

8). ‘King of the Road’ factor. In any Gran Turismo, the Viper can dominate, or at least keep up in any race it'll qualify for...so long as the driver can control it. Great car for cheaters.

9). Though Vipers in GT3 or 4 are not driftable, they do trail-brake, maneuever, and throttle-steer like their real-life cousins are described as doing.

10). GT1 & 2: any Viper can be equipped with a race-kit.
 
11). Functional dashboard in the GT5 Premium versions. None of this new-fangled dazzling techno crap.



CONS----------------------------------------

1). High price.

2). Heavy. Some Vipers remain heavy, even after full weight-reductions (depends which game you've got).

3). It's easy to get power-happy with the available modifications, leading to RWD spin-outs, confusion, disillusion.

4). GT1 & 2: Stock ("normal") tires seem like giant bars of wet soap, as you slip & slide about. This also sometimes includes GT5 models as well. They take some getting used to, basically. Oddly, the GT3 & 4 Vipers aren't as prone to all this until they start getting above 550 hp.

5). Limited color choices. And what happened to the blue Viper from GT1?

6). Though the engine is race-ready, the stock transmission is too tall and clumsy for smaller tracks. From game to game, it either works efficiently in sim races or it doesn't.

7). The stock suspension is also rather bouncy; takes some getting used to. This is due to its "competition" grade specs, and makes the Viper not as friendly of an everyday driver as some other sports cars. In GT5, used Vipers can be a lot more difficult to drive than new ones, assuming no under-tuning (possibly a chassis rebuild) has been done.
8). GT3 & 4 versions will not drift readily, and aren't as fun as earlier Vipers in GT1 and 2. GT4 Vipers understeer almost exclusively.

9). GT4: fuel-eaters. V10 engines will do this, apparently.
 
10). GT5: Narrow slot of a windshield to look through, and the mirrors on this one sometimes require some head-turning.
Originally published for GT2 content: July 30, 2004
Edited for GT3 & GT4 content: many times
Edited for GT5 content: December 1st, 2013

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