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by Tim Beissmann

The all-new SRT Viper may be the star of the 2012 New York auto show, but Australian fans will once again be forced to admire the stunning supercar from afar.

The fifth-generation Viper has been designed primarily for the US market, and as such there will be no right-hand-drive version for markets like Australia, Japan and the UK.

SRT engineer Graham Henckel told CarAdvice the brand’s parent company Chrysler did not believe there was enough sales potential for the Viper in right-hand-drive markets to justify the additional cost and complexity of developing and producing the car.

“The truth is the sales volume that we generally see in right-hand-drive markets at this time doesn’t support that, but for the future we can always see,” Henckel said.

He said the asymmetrical placement of the engine, which is offset approximately 25-30mm to the right, would make converting the Viper to right-hand-drive “very problematic” at best, and impossible at worst.

Henckel said the decision to produce the SRT Viper exclusively in left-hand-drive was also motivated by the car’s heritage.

“Viper to us is the quintessential American supercar and a lot of overseas buyers that buy a Viper do so because it’s an exotic piece of America. They like the fact that it’s American and they’re buying it because of its heritage and what it’s done as an American car.”

The fourth-generation Viper’s 8.4-litre V10 engine has been upgraded and is now more powerful and more than 11kg lighter than before. Producing an extra 27kW/54Nm, the Viper now generates 477kW (at 6150rpm) and 814Nm (at 4950rpm), giving it more torque than any other naturally aspirated engine in production car history.

Traditionalists will be happy to hear the Viper will only be available with a six-speed manual transmission.

SRT promises both ride and handling have been improved thanks to a 50 per cent stiffer chassis and a base body weight of 1496kg (down 74kg).

The new Viper’s performance data remains a mystery, although it is certain to take a big chunk out of the old car’s 3.4-second 0-60mph (0-96.6km/h) sprint time and improve on its 325km/h top speed – putting it in the elite supercar club.

Unlike the previous model, the new Viper will be available in two different equipment levels: the standard SRT Viper and the SRT Viper GTS, which comes with more technology and added creature comforts like full leather upholstery, electric seats, unique ‘Venon’ alloy wheels, and much more.

While still instantly recognisable as a Viper, the new model shows clear styling links to its Ferrari and Maserati stable mates. The triple-vented bonnet, double bubble roof and the boot lid are made from carbon fibre, and the doors are aluminium.

While the exterior is a respectful evolution of earlier Viper designs, the interior has been completely overhauled. Among the highlights is a seven-inch full-colour instrument display, and an 8.4-inch central touchscreen incorporating the car’s audio functions. The GTS model can be ordered with an 18-speaker, four-subwoofer Harmon Kardon surround sound system, which has more than twice the acoustic power of the old model’s system.

The steering wheel allows drivers to adjust audio and Uconnect functions as well as set the cruise control, choose from four stability control modes, and initiate launch control.

Pricing for the 2013 SRT Viper will be revealed closer to its US launch in the coming months.

The return of the Viper sees production resume at the Conner Avenue Assembly Plant in Detroit – also known as the Snake Pit. The plant has been offline since July 2010 when the last gen-four Viper rolled off the assembly line, but will come to life like never before with the launch of the new model.

Check out the gallery for all the images.




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