SRT® Hallmarks: Uconnect® injects hands-free communication, navigation and entertainment system into the SRT Viper.
If you had the pleasure to drive the first generation Viper in the early '90s, you were no doubt captivated by its raw power and basic interior appointments. After all, a true super street and track car did not need air conditioning and in fact, could not afford the weight penalty of it to be taken seriously. It was raw.
With its soft top and zippered-in windows, and its marginally muffled side exit exhaust, at highway speed it was a challenge to hear the basic audio system, let alone hold a conversation.
Most would say that was the beauty of the beast. Viper did not try to finesse anyone or anything. It was a serious driver's car. Like it or, well, get left behind. Now fast-forward to today. Viper is back and the game has changed. In dramatic fashion.
One of the most dramatic changes you will experience with the 2013 SRT® Viper is the advancement of its interior. Inside is a sensory explosion of leather, craftsmanship, attention to detail and technology. It's all about making a connection with the vehicle.
The system that best accommodates that connection between man/woman and machine is the latest Chrysler Uconnect® system. Uconnect is synonymous with hands-free calling via Bluetooth technology, but it is more than that. Much more.
"Nearly 10 years ago, when Chrysler launched Uconnect, it debuted with Bluetooth hands-free calling," explained Aamir Ahmed, Uconnect Marketing Manager. "Since then, Uconnect has evolved to include the integration of many consumer electronics technologies that provide drivers with easy-to-use features like the ability to control their mobile phones, navigation and entertainment system with either their voice, through steering wheel controls, touch screen displays or traditional knobs and buttons."
"We've redone the control of Uconnect so drivers can adapt to the changes and technology at their own pace," said Ahmed. "If they don't want to use the on-screen control, they can use the redundant standard controls that they've always had in their vehicles. Whether it's voice controls or touch controls, we offer the control for a lot of the vehicle features."
The new Uconnect 8.4A and 8.4AN systems on the new SRT Viper include Bluetooth as standard. The goal was to make the Viper more appealing to more customers and ensuring that features are easy-to-use. It is important to be mindful of ease-of-use. In a Viper, you already have your hands full of steering and gear-shifting with 640 hp, so the hands-free connectivity is a way to keep drivers more focused on the primary driving task.
"With a manual transmission and 640 horsepower, it's in our best interest to make sure the customer has one hand on the wheel and one hand on the shifter," noted Ahmed. "Hands-free communication ensures that drivers can answer their calls or make calls, all without taking their hands off the steering wheel. It helps keeps the driver focused on driving and not reaching for any other personal objects."
There are three audio systems available in the Viper for 2013, all developed by Harman Kardon. First is the seven-speaker audio system (standard SRT Viper), next is the optional SRT High Performance Audio, 12-speaker system (optional on SRT Viper, standard for SRT Viper GTS). Lastly, the SRT High Performance Audio, 18-speaker system is available as an option on both the SRT Viper and SRT Viper GTS.
"We were working to create new radios that don't use as much power," said Ahmed. "There is not a lot of advantage to be found in the weight of a radio but we consider that as well. But the key here is the features."
The two 8.4-inch Uconnect systems (8.4A and 8.4AN) have plenty of features. The difference between the two is that the 8.4AN has factory installed navigation. That radio also has HD Radio, SiriusXM Travel Link™ and Traffic. The dealer can add navigation to the Uconnect 8.4A system for an additional fee.
The new Uconnect system, is completely revamped. It has an all-new feature set. It has a built-in 3G connection enabling users to access apps including SRT Performances Pages. And more. To access the apps and many new services, Viper owners will need to register with Uconnect Access.
"Right now Uconnect Access offers a variety of services. Three of the new Uconnect Access services that I believe Viper owners will value the most include Bing Search, voice texting and the SRT Performance Pages," explained Ahmed. "It's great to be able to do a Bing search of something like a local business, get their hours of operation, then program the navigation and go. Voice texting allows the customer to dictate any message they want so it can be sent hands-free from the car."
"The Uconnect system also will read text messages if you have a MAP (Message Access Profile) compatible phone. From there, on the steering wheel, hit the phone button and say 'reply' and basically list off 160 characters of text, or whatever you want to say, and it literally transcribes it."
The Travel Link feature provides the ability to check sports, weather, movies and traffic straight from the 8.4-inch touchscreen display. While driving, you can say "fuel prices" and it will bring up fuel prices at local gas stations and allow you to choose to navigate to the location. You can say "weather" and it will bring up the day's forecast wherever you are. You can do all that while driving.
"Compared to what used to be available in the Viper, this is quantum leaps ahead," said Ahmed. "The 8.4AN system includes real-time traffic and also 3D city models and landmarks on the navigation screens.
"The last radio in the Viper was three generations ago," Ahmed said. "The new Viper does not have a CD player in it. We have what we call remote CD, so it's not built into the radio itself. We offer our customers a range of entertainment choices including the ability to stream music via Bluetooth and we also have a media hub that a user can plug into. There is a USB port, an SD card slot and a 3.5-millimeter auxiliary port."
If you have a smart phone, you can plug it in and Uconnect will re-catalogue your music. Then you can hit the button on the steering wheel and through voice command, ask for specific artists or songs. The user is actually getting his or her daily accessories integrated with the vehicle. You can use voice recognition again to keep your hands on the wheel and eyes on the road.
"The system is very easy to use," noted Ahmed. "Industry experts continue to report that the system is intuitive and it is something we have gotten a lot of accolades for. It's a simple user interface. On the 8.4AN, it has one-step voice entry for navigation. You can hit the voice recognition button and say, 'Navigate to 800 Chrysler Drive, Auburn Hills, Michigan,' while driving and it will program the system to guide you there without interruption. That is a great feature."
Another popular feature is something called 'Speed Alert,' that is part of the navigation function. In essence, the navigation maps know the speed limits of the roads you are on and the vehicle knows your speed. If you program a speed over the limit into the system, you will be alerted audibly whenever the vehicle exceeds that speed definitely a valuable feature for a 640-hp supercar and another example of the technology connection.
As we said earlier, the new Uconnect system is certainly more than just Bluetooth hands-free calling. And clearly, the new 2013 SRT Viper is more than just brute force. Welcome to the future of high performance supercars.