A serious contender against the V8s from Germany | For the better part of the last century, the Cadillac name has been associated with the pinnacle of premium American motoring.
The Cadillac Catera of years gone by was an epic failure despite being a badge-engineered version of the Opel Omega. It was such a failure that in reinventing “the new Cadillac”, our friends at GM decided to rename it CTS, short for “Catera Touring Sedan”, in the hope to ditch the stigma around the Catera name. The CTS has been around for just over a decade now, and has been a huge success. Last year, the introduction of the brilliant ATS rendered the existing CTS a bit redundant. As such, the redesigned CTS has grown one size larger, and has gained a ton of features in an attempt to out-class its competition.
I decided to spend a week with the current flagship of the CTS line, the 2014 Cadillac CTS Vsport. It comes with the same sleek, sexy lines of the new CTS except with some added oomph under the hood. Make no mistake; this is not a successor to the legendary supercharged CTS-V, nor is it intended to be. A full-blown CTS-V will show up in the coming years, but until then, this is a great step-up from the standard naturally-aspirated 3.6L CTS sedan that we have come to know and love. The CTS Vsport shares its 3.6L twin-turbocharged V6 with its larger sibling, the XTS Vsport. Here, horsepower output is 420 while torque is a ground-crushing 430 lb-ft. Yes, those who were expecting a fire-breathing 556-horsepower CTS-V will be slightly dismayed, but this car is far from disappointing.
Unlike the XTS Vsport, the CTS is also rear-wheel-drive, so there are no compromises here. Its driver mode select has a “Track” setting, and that when coupled with the “Competition StabiliTrak” makes this car sound and feel like a snarling monster. Thanks to magnetic ride control and an electronic limited-slip differential, the thing feels playful in all the right ways. Acceleration is plenty quick; 100 km/h is achieved in 4.4 seconds. Apart from the twin-turbocharged engine, the highlight of the CTS Vsport is the all-new 8-speed automatic transmission. The shifts are crisp and smooth when using the paddle shifters in manual-shift mode, and the car does a great job shifting itself when you don’t want to. This is one of the most responsive new transmissions available today, and is very well suited to the sporting nature of this car.
Cadillac has positioned the new CTS to compete with the likes of the BMW 5-series and the Audi A6. These are all large cars, and the Caddy isn’t exactly a Mini Cooper. Despite its size though, the CTS Vsport handles like a dream. The steering wheel is just the right thickness to feel great in your hands when navigating your favourite country roads. I had the opportunity to take it for a nice drive over a long weekend through beautiful Belfountain, Ontario, where the CTS felt completely at home. Steering by ZF is precise and nimble without feeling too light or artificial.
Luxury has always been a huge priority for the Cadillac brand; for the better part of the last century, the Cadillac name has been associated with the pinnacle of premium American motoring. The latest CTS stays true to those roots; every single square inch of the interior is lined with fine leathers and high-gloss piano black finishes. The instrument cluster is a TFT screen and the gauges are “artificial”, but they don’t look cheap or low-rent in any way. They can be customized in various different styles (I personally enjoyed the “Performance” display the most). The seats in the CTS are also just lovely; they provide a great amount of support and the right amount of comfort.
The sticker price on my car was just over $76,000. Not bad at all for a fully-loaded model with over 400-horsepower on tap. This includes heated/cooled front seats, USB/Bluetooth/iPod connectivity, rear sunshades for full privacy, adaptive cruise control, a panoramic sunroof, triple-zone automatic climate control, self-parking, and a full navigation suite with a Bose surround sound system. All of the bells and whistles is the only way to have a Cadillac; it’s just how GM intended it.
When I looked into the editorial schedule to see that my week with the CTS Vsport was approaching, I quickly thought back to my brief time with the supercharged CTS-V Coupé. I almost needed a line of credit to deal with the fuel consumption over the course of my test week. In the case of the CTS Vsport though, I was unnecessarily worried. Running strictly on 91-octane premium fuel, I averaged 10.7L/100km in combined driving over the course of my test. Not bad in the slightest, especially for a 420-horsepower sport sedan. In fact, this number wasn’t far from what my colleague Zack observed with the regular 3.6L CTS.
I really didn’t have all that much to complain about with the Cadillac CTS Vsport. In fact, if all cars were this good, more and more reviews would begin to read like sales brochures. The fact remains though; I still haven’t quite gotten on board with Cadillac’s CUE infotainment system. It’s significantly better now than it was a year or two ago, but I just don’t see the need for everything to be touch-sensitive. I like a simple handle or button to open the glovebox; the touch-button thing here probably won’t work when it’s -30 degrees out and I’m wearing thick gloves. Even still, CUE is still a work in progress and I have faith in GM to develop it to be much better in the coming years.
During my road test with the 2014 Cadillac CTS Vsport, I met up with a friend of mine. This friend has a Pontiac G8 with the 6.0L V8 putting out a similar amount of horsepower. I gave him a ride in the CTS, and he came away praising it, saying it just might be his next car. Those who have been touting the fact that a “real” Caddy can only be equipped with a V8 and that a turbocharged 6-cylinder is just blasphemy need to see this Vsport up close. This is a brilliant motor and an even more sublime overall package – the Germans really do have some serious competition here.