Not only is it blazing fast in a straight line, Cadillac has ensured that the CTS-V is a legitimate super sedan.
Cadillac has been on a roll lately, style-wise. Their new designs are stunning, accented by gorgeous LED lighting, modern lines and proud Caddy badging throughout. The ATS, CTS, and the upcoming CT6 flagship are perfect examples of what Cadillac is doing right. This though; nobody could have predicted this. When the CTS Vsport was sent to our garage last year, I was impressed by its twin-turbo V6 and lively nature. The 2016 Cadillac CTS-V is that car, with the heat cranked up a thousand degrees and a completely different motor and retuned chassis. This could very well be the most interesting new car to debut in the year 2015.
The CTS-V, simply put, is the ideal car for Corvette Z06 owners that need something a little bit more practical. Frankly, I don’t need anything more practical, but would probably opt for the CTS-V anyway because it’s a little bit different than a Corvette Stingray. Of course, the looks aren’t what necessarily attract buyers towards the CTS-V – 90% of this car’s beauty and low-key sex appeal can be attained through the regular CTS or CTS Vsport. It’s under the hood and in the chassis engineering that the fastest production Cadillac ever produced earns the pedestal that we’ve placed it on – this car is a missile.
Powered by the supercharged 6.2L V8 that resides under the hood of the legendary Z06, the CTS-V is the very definition of a rocketship. With slightly different tuning and lacking the dry sump lubrication of the Z06 though, the CTS-V has its own personality, one that’s very easy to get on board with. Output is 640 horsepower at 6400RPM, and 630 lb-ft of torque at 3600RPM. Cadillac says it will reach 323 km/h, and at the sheer speed at which this thing takes off, we have no reason to doubt this.
I had the chance to play with the car both on the road as well as on the track at New York’s fantastic Monticello Motor Club. Simply put, this is the best Cadillac I have ever driven. It has rocketship power, but it’s remarkably down to earth. It’s not as manic as the new Hellcat models from SRT, but the CTS-V provides nearly as much power and is a lot easier to manage. The Michelin Pilot Super Sport tires (295/30-19 in the rear and 265/35-19 in front) are fat enough to hold the road with confidence, but they’re no match for the 640 horses when you try to accelerate aggressively. Thankfully, stability control systems step in and the CTS-V grips relatively quickly, but going flat out onto the throttle induces wheelspin pretty easily.
The transmission that has been chosen to put all of this power to the ground is GM’s own in-house Hydramatic 8L90 eight-speed automatic. It’s not a dual-clutch unit, but even using the provided paddle shifters when zipping around the track, I found that ideal shifts were achieved by just letting the transmission do its own thing. Of course, being able to row my own gears would be incredibly satisfying, but for sheer performance as this car is built for, the 8L90 does a superb job shifting.
Underpinning the CTS-V is GM’s new Alpha platform, which is also the basis of the ATS and the upcoming CT6. Of course, for the CTS-V application, it has been stiffened up significantly and extensively reworked with a few specific priorities in mind. At the top of this priority list is precision and sharpness – an aluminum plate called the “shear panel” has been placed beneath the front of the car. There’s also a unique strut tower brace and rigidity pieces nearly everywhere in the car, to make the handling as crisp as possible. There’s also an electronic limited-slip differential that’s capable of adapting from completely open to almost locked, dependent on the conditions.
When going as fast as the CTS-V will go, stopping power is just as important. And who can do brakes better than the world standard, Brembo? The steel discs on the CTS-V are 15.4” in front and 14.4” at the back. The brake pedal itself has plenty of feel and the discs have no issues bringing the big 4145-lb Cadillac to a stop very quickly. GM has also implemented the five-level Performance Traction Management system (PTM) that the Corvette Z06 has, so it’s pretty manageable for the daily commute.
Thanks to GM’s impeccable magnetic ride control on board all CTS-Vs, ride quality is surprisingly composed. There’s no jarring bumpiness as in previous models, and cornering is flat as can be for a large sedan. The dampers do an exceptional job absorbing every sort of impact before it reaches the driver, but there’s a noticeable firmness that you would expect and require in a car with this kind of personality. It’s agreeable and appealing at the same time. Pushing the car through the mountainside in New York gave us incredible satisfaction. Electric power steering by ZF doesn’t provide too much in the way of analog feedback, but the CTS changes direction in a manner that no car this size should be able to.
Though most of the CTS-V’s interior is familiar to those accustomed to current Cadillacs, there are some unique touches. The instrument cluster has an LCD driver display panel that’s specific to the V model. It’s capable of displaying a series of vehicle diagnostics and performance information in beautiful clarity. Recaro racing seats are optional, and the buckets are unsurprisingly comfortable – this is a Cadillac, after all.
Most buyers opting for a near-$90,000 Cadillac with over 600 horsepower don’t care about fuel economy. This is one instance where if you have to ask, you’re probably not the right fit for this car. However, we expect most CTS-V owners to achieve about 13L/100km in combined everyday driving, with this number worsening significantly when weekend track days are being taken into consideration. The car is tuned to operate optimally on 91-octane premium fuel, but putting in 93 or 94-octane will sweeten the motor up nicely.
There’s something other than the CTS-V’s classy styling, the insane motor and the dynamic qualities that stands out as special. It’s the noise this missile makes from the exhaust. When the car is kept in “Tour” mode, the exhaust quiets down and the car carries on with no fuss, but the second you engage “Track”, music from the engine and exhaust will tempt you to turn off the stereo and just enjoy the symphony of the 6.2L supercharged eight. Just take in for a second that this is exactly what modern American muscle sounds like.
Considering the previous-generation CTS-V was considered a rocket at just 556 horsepower, this new 640-pony model is simply on another level altogether. Not only is it blazing fast in a straight line, Cadillac has ensured that the CTS-V is a legitimate super sedan in every manner. It’s almost Teutonic in operation with the seamlessness of the Germans and the snarl of American muscle. The 2016 Cadillac CTS-V is a brute that can haul to 100 km/h in just 3.7 seconds, and be a weekend track car just as easily as it can be a tame daily driver. What Cadillac has on their hands is a future classic – a masterpiece that will be remembered for decades to come.
2016 Cadillac CTS-V Gallery