Cadillac goes high performance in the CTS-V
summit daily auto writer
When you go through new cars like other people go through Starbucks coffee, it’s interesting to see what on wheels will elicit a response – and what goes largely unnoticed, until the pedal hits the metal.
Cadillac’s most brutal and powerful automotive offering, the almighty new CTS-V, struck me as a bit of a sleeper. Those in the know immediately recognize there’s something suspiciously sinister about this moderately (on the outside) transformed CTS, while laymen still apparently see the car as an angular new Cadillac and dismiss it as much. I got some looks, but nothing out of the ordinary.
The enthusiasts’ curiosity is immediately piqued by the telltale lump on the hood, the half-acre of chrome mesh on the grille, the gigantic brake rotors, the bazooka-sized exhaust ports and the curb-scratching aerodynamic lower lip; everyone else sees it as the new CTS and goes about their business.
But pull away from them in traffic or roar past them on a winding country road and the cannonades of absolutely earth-shattering exhaust and the fully hellacious acceleration tell CTS-V’s truer story.
Lurking underneath those not-so-minor tweaks is a supercharged, 6.2-liter V8 engine modified from the Corvette side of the family, blown out and snorting and vulgar, even at idle. Lay into it from a stop and you’ll hit 60 in less than 4 seconds; keep it buried on a long stretch of highway and the rear-wheel-drive CTS-V will easily hit its 191 mph top end.
And more than just raw power, Cadillac’s engineers have created a four-door sedan that handles with the same poise and balance as a real sports car. The CTS-V’s record-setting run on Germany’s Nurburgring race track positioned it as the fastest production sedan ever built; the user-adjustable suspension, the enhanced steering and, most importantly, the high-performance brakes all team to create a truly stunning experience.
You can then have the best of all worlds, with unprecedented performance wrapped in a luxurious cocoon that’s comfortable for you and your passengers. A Cadillac with a Corvette engine that handles like a Solstice convertible.
Inside, CTS-V isn’t especially different than the standard CTS, with its hyper-angular central stack of controls, its toaster-styled pop-up navigation screen and its generally futuristic cabin. The only major upgrades are some usefully grippy microfiber suede on the steering wheel and shift column and an optional pair of Recaro racing seats that feel like they’ve been pried from an F-18 fighter jet.
And that fact alone may key up the detractors. My CTS-V tester came in at just shy of $69,000; the standard CTS, with its 304-HP V6 and all-wheel-drive, prices at $45K, or $53K with many of the options admittedly standard in the CTS-V (the full navigation system and Bose 10-speaker stereo, remote start and cooled/heated front seats). Interiors on the two vehicles are practically identical, and still a bit heavy on the plastic for the price point. CTS-V’s competitive targets, such as the BMW M5 are all much nicer on the inside, but cost way, way more money and are just barely able to keep up on the track.
What you’re paying for in the V upgrade is pure whomp, and you get it by the bucketful. I’m a full advocate of those Recaros, having spent about 10 hours in one weekend behind the wheel of the automobile, and the butt- and thorax-level air bolsters really do keep you nailed in place.
Suspension can be dialed up at two levels, including a fairly comfortable regular setting and a more brutal, performance-oriented setting; neither are enough to knock your teeth out, but the higher notch will allow you to corner nearly flat at speeds you can’t quite believe, which is quite entertaining.
Flat-out acceleration is also endlessly thrilling, as that basso rumble at idle turns all Corvette crazy when you step on it. Passing power is never lacking, as you might guess; as a result, you have to learn to be judicious with the gas pedal.
Purists looking for the highest level of American-made automotive achievement, and hoping to carry passengers in the back seat (or have a reasonably spacious trunk) need look no further.
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