Less than a year after its introduction, the first special-edition SRT Viper has arrived, the SRT Viper TA, and in keeping with the car's racing success, this new variant is a capable track-day special. TA stands for 'time attack', referring to the qualifying-style competitions popular among American racing sanctions.
Fundamentally, the configuration of this American supercar is unchanged from its outrageous original spec. The massive 8.4-litre V10 makes the identical 640bhp and 600lb ft as the standard SRT Viper, and still delivers neck-straining acceleration. The ratios for the short-throw six-speed manual gearbox and final drive are unchanged.
Yet the devil is in the details, as they say, and mostly under the skin. The suspension is thoroughly improved for track work, with spring rates up 20 percent. Stabiliser bars are over 30 percent stiffer and the two-mode, electronically adjustable Bilstein DampTronic dampers, which are revised to suit the changes in stiffness, are restricted to just Sport and Race settings. There is no Street setting.
SRT fits the lightest available original-equipment forged alloy wheels, finished exclusively in matt black, and wraps them in wide Pirelli P Zero Corsa tyres. The aggressive alignment settings are specific to the TA and are more suited to chasing lap times than enjoying long-distance drives through California.
The cockpit is kept refreshingly simple and focused, and is finished in black with contrasting orange stitching throughout. The Sabelt-supplied buckets are trimmed with back-to-basics cloth inserts – a welcome choice over cowhide for track-day drivers. The leather-covered, flat-bottomed steering wheel is the perfect size and shape, too, and the sort of ideal wheel you get when the company’s CEO is both a designer and a racer.
The TA gets the six-outlet bonnet that's optional on lesser Vipers, with the addition of a new, two-piece, ankle and driveway-friendly splitter design. In a tip of the hat to the longevity of the splitter elements, each includes a replaceable rubbing strip. The tall rear spoiler includes a cut-out to help rearward visibility, but the view out of the hatch has gone from passable to barely usable.
Acceleration, both on the circuit and from a standing start, is breathtaking. SRT quotes a 0-62mph time in the low-3.0sec range, and forward thrust remains raw and brutal but a drag racer this is not. Instead, the TA was designed to help its driver extract the best possible time around a circuit, lap after lap.
The soft, steamroller-width Corsa tyres deliver virtually limitless grip. Turn-in response is sharp, directional changes immediate and steering feel is well above average for this hydraulically-assisted system.