The folks at Edmunds are the ones who pitted America's top new sports cars against one another. Their results weren't really all that surprising, and they lead me to wonder why people think of these two cars as competitors in the first place.
Let me start by saying this isn't me calling out Edmunds in any way. I'm a big fan of their reviews, and their long-term test garage is full of stuff I only dream about. Someone was bound to do this comparison sooner or later, but I'm just not sure it's a good one.
First of all, like I just said, these cars are both America's top new sports cars. Both have rear-wheel drive, manual transmissions, two seats and big engines.
That's really where their similarities end. The new Corvette Z51 tested here has a 6.2-liter V8 with 460 horsepower. It stickers in at $69,675 as tested.
The SRT Viper, on the other hand, has a 8.4-liter V10 that produces 640 horsepower. With no options, it costs $101,990. The Viper's base price is close to $100,000, while the Corvette starts at $51,000.
Explain to me how this is a fair fight, exactly?
I can't fault Edmunds for wanting to have some fun with both cars, but at the end of of the day, these two are in different classes in terms of power and price. I really don't see how this is any different from comparing a WRX STI to an M5.
It is very important to note that right now, we're talking about the Corvette Z51, with just a bit more power than the base model. The forthcoming Z06 (or Z07) and ZR1 versions, whatever they may be, will most likely be more even with the Viper in price and power. And Edmunds knows this as well:
Ultimately the Viper will be more directly comparable to the "big-tire" Corvettes that are surely coming: the imminent C7-based successors to the track-oriented Z06 and overwhelming, supercharged ZR1. Of course, then there's always the top-of-the-line Viper GTS like the one we tested late last year.
Okay, so what are the results here? It turns out, according to their test, that the Viper is faster from zero to 60 mph, in the quarter mile, and around Willow Springs.
Gee, I wonder how a car that costs $30,000 more and has nearly 200 additional horsepower did that? (The Corvette, it must be noted, did manage to have superior brakes and was faster through the slalom.)
And in the end, perhaps predictably, Edmunds seemed to like the Viper better:
That, however, shouldn't tarnish the glory the SRT Viper deserves. Every moment in this car is special; it always makes a dramatic entrance and attracts crowds as if it had just arrived from Titan. As we drove this white Viper out of a hotel parking lot, an attendant said, "Man, that thing is like a white Batmobile." Stuff like that doesn't happen in a Corvette.
I have driven the new SRT Viper. It is fantastic. It's probably the fastest car I have personally driven. I have not driven the C7 Corvette yet, but everything I have read and heard indicates it is incredible and the best 'Vette ever by a wide margin. It sounds like it offers stunning performance and technology for an absurdly low price tag.
However, until the Z0-Whatever versions start coming out, I'm not sure what the point is in comparing both cars.
Maybe I'm wrong. Maybe the two are worth comparing, even if the Z51 is the clear underdog. They probably compete for buyers at the moment as well. I'm just eager to see a more even battle.