dodge viper could return… sometime in the future – DOC662090
The Dodge Viper has been one of the most polarizing performance cars of this generation. Lauded for its brashness and outright disdain for anything resembling efficiency, the Viper has also never been the kind of sales force that parent company Fiat Chrysler has hoped for. The latter is a big reason why the current iteration of the Viper already has an expiration date for 2017 with no clear plans for a successor. And yet, just when it seemed like the eulogy for the Viper is about to be written, it appears that the sports car isn’t headed for the grave just yet. At least that’s what FCA CEO Sergio Marchionne hinted at during his annual press conference at the North American International Auto Show.
According to Marchionne, there is a “possibility” that the Viper could make yet another comeback. The only problem is that there’s no timetable for it, not even for the man who calls the shots in the company. If Marchionne and the rest of the decision-makers over at FCA do decide to bring it back, expect it to be packaged much differently than the current model. For starters, the platform would be new, as would its engine. Fortunately, sister company Alfa Romeo has just developed a new rear-wheel-drive architecture that Dodge could use on the next Viper. It’s already signed up the new Challenger and Charger models for this platform so there’s a possibility that the Viper could follow suit.
Just as important is what engine the “next” Viper will receive. The 8.4-liter V-10 currently powering the incumbent model will no doubt be axed in favor of something smaller and more efficient in order to keep up with the current global conditions. FCA will still likely focus on its performance capabilities, but it would be done through other measures like making the car lighter and using turbochargers on the engine instead of continuing with the naturally aspirated engine.
These changes might run counter to the ethos of the Viper, but it’s important to remember that these plans aren’t set in stone yet. Even Marchionne couldn’t say if it’s happening, so until there’s more concrete news that the Viper will live again, it’s probably best to temper those expectations right now.
Why it matters
I feel like I’ve been on this ride before. The Dodge Viper has been around long enough for it to be considered a legacy car, and yet, every few years, there’s talk of it being discontinued permanently. But somehow, the Viper had managed to stay alive, leading one person I know to question whether Fiat Chrysler shouldn’t just change the name of the Dodge Viper into something of the feline persuasion. You know, because of the whole nine lives thing?
All joking aside, this is the first time I’m actually in favor of the Viper getting a new lease in life, largely because of the changes it could have, should the new model come to life. I’m probably one of the few people who still saw great things out of the Viper, but even I was finding it difficult to defend a car that really didn’t differentiate itself anymore, especially when it’s biggest rival, the Chevrolet Corvette, has evolved so beautifully.
Having another reset for the Dodge Viper would only work if the sports car was packaged differently. That includes a dramatic new look, a new platform, and an engine that could still address the Viper purist’s thirst for power and performance while attracting new customers who may prefer their sports cars to be a little more fuel efficient. If Dodge, and Fiat Chrysler by virtue of it being the parent company, can do this and reinvent the Viper while still keeping its core qualities intact, then the American sports car might finally become the sales force Dodge always hoped it would be.