SRT Viper vs Audi S8

SRT Viper review

Take a long, slow walk around the new Viper and it’s clear the design is more organic and voluptuous than the last generation. That’s not the only difference. Under that stretched hood is still an 8.4-liter V-10, but the engine is lighter by 25 pounds and now belts out a formidable 640 hp and 600 lb-ft of torque—strong enough to run right up to a mind-numbing top speed of 206 mph. The chassis, largely the same, has been tweaked and upgraded by the SRT engineers to shave weight and add stiffness. Inside is a roomier and more luxurious cabin in the base and the upscale GTS trims.

For an extra $23,000, the GTS comes with a special hood; a sumptuous, leather-wrapped interior; around 40 pounds of acoustic noise-damping material; and two-mode Bilstein shocks that work beautifully. A new stability-control system (two-mode on the base car, four-mode with launch control on the GTS) helps keep you from killing yourself. And yet even with the system, the Viper’s rawness remains.

SRT ViperPunch the throttle to the floor and the Viper is fiercely quick. And when the pavement bends, it snaps into each turn. We did find that bumpy corners upset the standard chassis, which is very firm, but in the GTS and with the Bilsteins at their softest setting, the whole car relaxes. Around town, the SRT Viper requires a little muscle to work the clutch and spin the steering wheel. Despite the increased cabin comfort, this is not a delicate instrument.

At a time when the automotive industry is focused on fuel economy and a watering down of the driving experience through fuel-saving electronics, the Viper stands out as a rebellious anachronism. This is not a car for everyone, and that’s exactly what makes it so appealing. We’re glad it’s back.

BASE PRICE: $99,390

Audi S8 review

Audi S8The earlier Euro model was in the movie Ronin, an enthusiast favorite for its epic car-chase scenes. Plus, it comes with brushed-aluminum mirrors, Brembo brakes, and a modified version of Audi’s 4.2-liter five-valve V-8 that puts out a mighty 360 hp and 317 lb-ft of torque. They’re also pretty rare: Fewer than 1500 made it to the U.S.

What it says: I’m a nonconformist who likes the quality and presence of a large German car, and I love John Frankenheimer movies.

Watch Out For: Be wary of leaky transmission seals or CV boots, and some owners on Audi forums mention transmission problems, but that’s about it. The car’s all-aluminum, so no rust.

BASE PRICE: $15,775

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