There is a stretch of road in Fairfield, CT, where our state officials put up a little sign marking it as a ‘scenic road’. Lined both sides with tall pines that blur as I hang on to the suede steering wheel, it feels more like carving through the Black Forest in Germany than a yuppie haven for New York execs. On a dark, spring afternoon I have this road to myself, and the power and handling prowess of the car are intoxicating. Reaching an intersection, I pull off the side of the road by a pond. Car running, it’s rich V-8 rumblimg, I climb out of the car, and I’m shaking my head at this beast. Never in my life would I have imagined I would ever experience that in a Cadillac.
Yes, I’ve been aware of the great strides Cadillac has made in recent years. But for someone who grew up in the 1970’s and 80’s, Cadillac’s were bloated cars with wheezy V-8’s, pillow-like seats, padded roofs and a ride that practically required medicine to prevent motion sickness. Taken in that context, the CTS-V is nothing short of a revelation, and it is nearly inconceivable that Cadillac could, and did, construct such a car.
Cadillac decided that if they were to compete against the best Europe and Japan had to offer in the luxury segment, they had to carve out their own identity and style language. The CTS-V is the perfect illustration of that-this is no wannabee Benz, BMW or Lexus. The Caddy is angular, brash, and especially from the front, menacing. The sharp edges and angles are certainly contemporary, but I fear the CTS-V may not age as well as the current Mercedes-Benx E63 AMG. The optional 19″ satin graphite wheels with yellow brake calipers added to the seriousness of the car, and the bazooka-sized, dual centered exhaust tips put the exclamation point that this is not a car to be messed with.
For all the brute for the CTS-V projects outside, it offers a welcoming interior. All the tech and luxury features one would expect at this price are accounted for. The optional Recaro seats our test car came with are pricey, but highly recommended, offering exceptional comfort and superb bolstering that provides excellent support when your pushing the car. The midnight sapele wood trim in our tester warmed things up a bit and added a nice touch of luxury to the madness this car is capable of. Critics carp that the CTS-V’s interior falls short of its rivals, but I honestly cannot find one area of the CTS-V’s interior that I found cheap looking or feeling.
But even the harshest critics put all that aside when it’s time to fire up the engine. Ladies, gentlemen: a 6.2L Eaton Supercharged V-8 good for 556hp. When GM dropped off the CTS-V, I nearly wept with joy when I saw it had the six-speed manual tranny. The CTS-V looks menacing, and you had better believe it sounds pretty damn evil too. So much so that during my time with the CTS-V, I sought a tunnel just to hear it bellow. Oh, I’m sure I ticked off a few people behind me as I slowed to 55mph in the fast lane, but I quickly forgot about them when I dropped the car into 4th gear, nailed it, with the supercharged V-8’s roar in full anger reverberating through the tunnel. Cadillac says the CTS-V Coupe will do 0-60mph in 3.9 seconds, and I believe them. This car is explosive off the line, in any gear, anywhere you are on the tach. There is so much torque you really don’t need to shift much, unless you’re like me and just love to hear that V-8 work through the gears.
Thankfully, the Cadillac isn’t all just about brute force power-it has the suspension to handle it. Standard magnetic ride control is the key ingredient in giving the slightly heavy car a grace in cornering that belies its weight. While the handling is crisp and sharp, it does not come at the expense of ride comfort-the CTS-V is comfortable and supple enough that it would make for a fine cross country tourer. Steering response was excellent, and, while not quite up to BMW standards, I was impressed at the amount of road feel the steering wheel communicated to me. The Brembo brakes can stop on a dime, and are without fault, thanks to good pedal feel.
The CTS-V Coupe has a base price of $62,165USD. Our test car fitted with the optional Recaro seats, Thunder Gray paint, 19″ wheels, wood trim and suede steering wheel and shifter notched the as-delivered price to $70,435, including a gas guzzler tax. Expensive? Yes, but considering the near super-car performance numbers the CTS-V provides, 70 grand sounds like a relative bargain when you consider the fact that you can legitimately chase Ferrari’s and Lamborghini’s in a car that has a back seat and room enough for golf clubs in the trunk.
If the CTS-V doesn’t convince you that Cadillac has moved away from the Brougham land yachts of the past, then nothing will. Cadillac has built a truly legit giant killer that provides speed enough to throw you in jail, handling and braking ability on par with BMW M-cars and Mercedes’ AMG offerings, wrapped in a package that is also an easy car to live with as a daily driver. Cross town or cross country, the CTS-V is up for the job. Excellent job, Cadillac!