Intelligent Energy

Snake in the gas: Chrysler's Viper sports car lives again

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First the cat roared, as Jaguar re-entered sports cars. Now the reptile returns. The muscular Viper bites back. Gas mileage? Apparently you don't want to know. But the car has a media center!

It's comeback time for sports cars. First the cat roared back, as Jaguar rejuvenated its long retired classic design.

Now it's Chrysler's turn: It's giving new life to the powerful Viper, which the company beheaded in 2010 when it was part of the Dodge stable. Yesterday, the SRT Viper re-emerged, this time from Chrysler's Street and Racing Technology (SRT) division. Chrysler let the snake out its cage at the New York International Auto Show, saying it would hit showrooms in 2013.

In announcing the car, Chrysler focused on performance. Turn the other way if this stuff makes you squeamish: An all aluminum, 8.4 liter V-10 engine "delivers an estimated 640 horsepower and 600-lb.ft. of torque - the most torque of any naturally aspirated sports car engine in the world," Chrysler said in a press release. "

What about gas mileage? Any advances there? In case you haven't noticed, a few people are concerned about that these days, with rising fuel prices, greenhouse gas emissions and all that.

I've scoured the release, and haven't found anything directly addressing the point. There are some clues of improvements. "All-new carbon fiber and aluminum skin is sculpted for high-speed stability and a slippery .364 drag coefficient," the release noted. And The New Zealand Herald reports that the car's engine is 11 kilograms (24 pounds) lighter than in the old Viper.

Like me, though, the Herald could not find fuel economy figures. "Chrysler hasn't released that yet, but no one who buys this car will really care," it wryly says (if SmartPlanet had a "Quote of the Day" feature, this would make it).

But never fear. While you're bombing down the highway oblivious to petrol consumption, you can further tune out with the Viper's onboard infotainment system.

"The new 2013 SRT Viper lineup includes the new, next generation Uconnect Access in-vehicle connectivity system that provides drivers with access to more information, emergency services, more entertianment and improved graphics," Chrysler noted.  Features include Harman Kardon surround sound, 18 speakers, 4 subwoofers, an 8.4-inch touchscreen plus "hard keys for commonly used functions, including traditional knobs for tuning the radio bands and radio volume."

Traditional knobs! Why didn't you say so in the first place? Something for everybody. But I suppose the anticipated retail price of over $100,000 is a bit steep for a few rounded dial controls.

Photos from Chrysler (very red, eh?)

More fast car sights, sounds and animal kingdom on SmartPlanet:

And more infotainment on wheels:

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Mark Halper

Contributing Editor

Mark Halper has written for TIME, Fortune, Financial Times, the UK's Independent on Sunday, Forbes, New York Times, Wired, Variety and The Guardian. He is based in Bristol, U.K. Follow him on Twitter. Disclosure