As a genuine rival to some German performance sedans, the newest Caddy stacks up quite well.
Despite what the name might lead you to believe, this car is not the successor to the famed CTS-V (reviewed here) with its fire-breathing supercharged V8. This is the all-new 2020 Cadillac CT5-V AWD, and yes, the “S” in CTS has been replaced with the number “5”. The names are similar, but there’s a lot more of a difference than just a letter having its top half edged-off to become a number. It’s easier to objectively judge the new CT5-V if perceived as a replacement to the CTS Vsport, or even the outgoing ATS sedan with the 3.6-liter V6.
The design of the CT5 is a bit of a mixed bag. While some onlookers remarked positively on its styling and how sharp it looks, others weren’t so sure. The front end is less pronounced than the CT6 (reviewed here), and a solid black “faux-window” on each side behind the rear windows is a turn-off. The rear end is gorgeous, and the profile is generally attractive, though the significant wheel gap on our all-wheel-drive tester is noticeable. Cadillac has implemented some nice touches such as the finger-pads for the keyless locking designed in the shape of their brand crest, and a neat little projection on the ground to indicate where to wave your foot to open the trunk.
Under the hood of the CT5-V is a 3.0-liter twin-turbocharged V6. It’s good for 360 horsepower at 5,600RPM and 405 lb-ft. at 2,400RPM, and is hooked up to a 10-speed automatic. Power is plentiful for a compact sports sedan, with minimal lag and quick response. It sounds a lot better than the 3.6-liter boosted V6 in the old CTS Vsport and ATS-V models, and has good mid-range punch as well. The 10-speed automatic is good at predicting the driver’s next move, and we found it to be much less confused than other applications. Pushing the “V” button on the steering wheel sharpens things up, and while the added oomph is welcomed, the extremely fake-sounding noises are not.
The CT5 is a great dancer, with light reflexes and excellent response from the Alpha chassis. We’ve remarked since the debut of the ATS (reviewed here) in 2013 that this platform is one of the best in class for its crisp dynamics and agile response. Ride quality from the adaptive dampers is extremely supple while remaining sufficiently firm, exemplifying the sharp nature of the car. Steering feel is good as well, with decent heft to the wheel and quick turn-in from this 4,000 pound sedan. Cadillac will also argue that while the CT5-V is a bit slower in a line than the Germans, it would hold its own well around a track, especially with regards to actual driver engagement.
Our tester was equipped with all-wheel-drive ($2,200 extra), and an added bonus here is that Performance Traction Management (PTM) has trickled down from the Corvette and Camaro ZL1 (reviewed here). This system allows customization of traction control and stability control systems for the specific environment, which is huge for track junkies. On the other side of the spectrum, one of the first things we remarked after some time in the CT5-V is just how quiet and sorted the cabin is at highway speed. While it remains obvious when you’re traveling quickly, the Cadillac is a wonderful road tripper with more refinement than many of its German archrivals.
Cadillac Canada rates the CT5-V at 13.8L/100km city and 9.4L/100km highway, which from our test is very optimistic. We did a bunch of highway driving with a little bit of city mixed in, and couldn’t fare any better than 12.5L/100km on the highway. Observed city mileage was nowhere close to the posted ratings either, at 14.9L/100km with a light foot. The small 66-liter tank will need to be refueled with 91-octane at a high frequency for those who do most of their driving in the city.
A strong departure from the touch-exclusive “CUE” infotainment system, the CT5-V uses a responsive touchscreen as well as a traditional rotary controller to navigate the vehicle’s various systems. The 10-inch touchscreen is recessed at more of an angle than we’d like, but is one of the largest screens that’s fully occupied by Apple CarPlay or Android Auto. The result is great, and the system overall is quick to react to inputs. Climate control uses physical buttons, and everything is easy to access and use. This is a complete 360-degree turnaround from the unusably bad system Cadillac implemented eight years ago, and it’s good to see them chalk that off as a loss and start fresh.
The interior is a relatively well designed place, and the seats are surprisingly comfortable as well as heated, cooled and with massage in front. Unfortunately, the button for massage is well-hidden, not marked, and there is no indicator to let you know it’s on. Four adults can travel in comfort in the CT5-V, and stepping up to more luxurious trim levels can even bring more upscale guise to the car. The trunk can hold 337-liters of stuff, but this is compromised by the small opening. As expected, tech such as adaptive cruise control, lane keep assist, and collision warning is all on board here as part of the Premium and Driver Awareness Plus packages.
The CT5-V starts at $49,798 in Canada, which is significantly cheaper than the BMW M340i (reviewed here) and Mercedes-AMG C 43. Our test vehicle was equipped with the Premium Package, Driver Awareness Plus Package, and Parking Package. Standalone options include the UltraView panoramic sunroof, premium Satin Steel paint, 19-inch wheels, a sueded steering wheel, and all-wheel-drive, for a total sticker of $65,523. Compared to the last M340i we tested, this is a relative bargain.
As a genuine rival to some German performance sedans, the newest Caddy stacks up quite well. If you’re able to look away from the “V” badge that used to mean something much more substantial, the 2020 Cadillac CT5-V AWD offers a compelling package. The sharp driving dynamics, well-designed interior, and value proposition help it stand out from the pack, and the fresh styling is a welcomed change over the evolutionary Germans.