Occasionally, a car comes along that alters your perception of what a car should be. A game changing vehicle. Sometimes these cars are merely made without the intent of altering the world, like the original M5, but other times, a car is created purely to destroy perceptions. The CTS-V Sedan is one such car. With Cadillac luxury and technology, but equipped with fire-breathing Corvette derived power, the CTS-V is designed to set the world on fire. Does it succeeded in its mission, or does it just become a mismatched pile of incompatible parts? Read on to find out….
The exterior of the CTS-V is on par from what the Cadillac group has produced over the last several years. It is the same basic Science and Motion design theme of the regular CTS with some subtle upgrades that hint at the performance potential of this machine. A larger front fascia allows the engine to breath a bit easier, while a revised rear allows for the new exhaust. Rolling stock has also been upgraded to 19-inch wheels with Michelin Pilot Sport rubber. The most telling piece of the visual alterations come from the hood bulge, informing everyone that there is more than meets the eye under the hood. Resting under that slab of metal is the 6.2-liter LSA V8 from General Motors. The Mocha Steel Metallic color of our tester looks bad on most GM vehicles, but seeing it on this Cadillac tester is a tragedy. For a classier look we suggest Radiant Silver or the optional Black Diamond Tricoat ($995).
While the exterior is more or less as expected, from the moment you open the door it is obvious that this is not your traditional Cadillac. The steering wheel and shifter are covered in suede, the seats are sculpted and highly bolstered set of Recaros and the entire cockpit seems designed for driving. Slide into the seat, and start the engine; you are greeted with a burble that is refined but aggressive. That V8 in front of the firewall is supercharged and factory rated at 556-horsepower with a full 551-lb-ft of twist. This immense level of power will haul this beast from a dead stop to 60 mph in 3.9 seconds. While we don’t have the proper equipment to truly test such a statement, we can say that we don’t doubt that number from behind the wheel. This one of the few cars that makes you think twice before flooring the throttle. The speed amounts so quickly that you find yourself looking into the horizon to make sure that no other vehicle is in sight, lest you run them down in a blur of speed and noise. According the Cadillac, this exhilarating feeling will continue until the needle pegs at 198 mph. We can’t confirm speeds like that, but at a local private test strip we were able to see 140 with relative ease.
Once you get over the thrill of powering down the road, and you show it some twisties, the Cadillac proves it is a capable performer yet again. Equipped with the seemingly infallible Magnetic Ride Control system, which adjusts the suspension almost constantly to changing road surfaces and driving styles, the V sedan bites into the road. It is no wonder Ferrari licenses this tech from GM, it is years ahead of its competitors. Large six-piston Brembo brakes up front with four-piston rears, help haul the machine down from speed with a solid pedal and linear travel. They may be steel rotors, instead of the more exotic carbon ceramic pieces that are becoming more common, but fade was never an issue regardless of the level of abuse.
While Cadillac does offer this car with a true three-pedal manual (Thank You!), our tester came with the automatic. While it does lessen driver engagement somewhat, we were fairly impressed with the transmission. The shifts are smooth and fairly quick, and we never managed to confuse the transmission and send it hunting for gears.
The automatic also makes traffic slogs easier. With all the power and performance on hand, it is easy to forget this is a Cadillac, but as soon as you find yourself on a long highway slog you are reminded of just what built the Cadillac brand, comfort and luxury. When traversing long stretches of interstate, that fancy magnetic suspension turns bumpy roads glass smooth, and the throaty exhaust becomes a muted hum in the background. It is about this time you start to notice the finer details of the interior. Perforated leather adorns the door panels, while subtle contrast stitching draws the eye. The elegantly curved trim pieces are real wood, and the chrome trim around the vents are tasteful and not overdone.
Being Cadillac, the cabin is also filled will all manner of technological wizardry. The most notable is the navigation screen. When activated, it rises from the dash. While this is anything but new, the impressive part is how it is integrated. When not in use, the top 2-inches or so of the screen remain visible and act as an extra information center. Bluetooth is standard, but unfortunately it does not support audio streaming. A massive shame, as the Bose branded stereo was a real treat on the ears. While we tend to feel Bose systems are a bit too bass-heavy, this one seemed to be calibrated exceptionally well. For those interested, the stereo does at least feature a 10gb HDD for storing music. The car also features other tech-centric features like rain-sensing wipers, rear vision camera and Adaptive HID headlamps.
The Cadillac CTS-V Sedan has managed to meet or exceed our expectations at almost every turn. While we have yet to drive the new F10 model BMW M5, we would handily recommend the V Sedan over the older E60 M5. One place we are sure the Cadillac will be able to best its competitors is price. Even with pricey options like the $3,400 Recaro seat package, $600 Midnight Sapele wood trim and the $300 suede steering wheel and shifter, our tester comes in at a Hamilton under $71k. That price includes the $875 destination charge and the $2,600 gas guzzler tax. For comparison a base M5 will run you $89,900 before destination, fees or options. All that extra cash buys you four more horsepower and a .4 second slower 0-60 time.
This power Caddy is not without its faults however. While most of the interior is great, there are areas where you can quickly see cost cutting. The headliner for one looks and feels like it was pulled straight from a last generation Silverado, and the fuel economy is abysmal. GM claims a highway rating of 18mpg, but when that much power is resting just under your right foot, you may tend to miss that mark. We struggled to best 14 as a total average for our duration with the vehicle.
It may have a few cheap interior pieces, and the fuel economy may be the stuff of eco-nightmares, but for a comparatively paltry sum of money you can have an immensely powerful, incredibly practical, and all round amazing set of wheels. We love it, we want it and we think you should too. The Cadillac CTS-V is one of the best cars we have ever driven; even if it had an automatic transmission.