Today, virtually all high-end makers provide formidable and firmly suspended variants of their typically sedate sedans, but Cadillac is no longer the outsider in this battle.
Cadillac’s CTS is the fourth generation of surprisingly strong models, and it gets the V treatment. The CTS-V receives the full performance makeover on GM’s new Alpha platform that underpins the Cadillac ATS-V as well as the Chevrolet Camaro.
The dearth of a manual gearbox and the discontinued coupe and wagon versions are gone, as is the option for a conventional gearbox. This CTS-V is exclusively a four-door rear-drive executive saloon with an automatic transmission.
The supercharged 6.2-liter V8 is a modified version of the engine that powers the Corvette Z06 and produces 640 horsepower and 630 pound-feet of torque. According to Cadillac, this engine is more powerful than the previous generation Mercedes-AMG E 63 and BMW M5.
Although the total output is slightly down from the Z06, it is still a lot higher than a comparable vehicle in its class. According to Cadillac, this decrease is owing entirely to CTS platform exhaust manifold packaging limitations.
The electronically controlled rear differential driveshaft and asymmetric drive shafts were developed specifically to avoid the axle hop problem seen in previous generations of Porsches.
The CTS-V’s chassis is significantly stiffer, with a 25 percent stiffer bodyshell and GM’s third-generation Magnetic Ride Control dampers. Motorsports-style Brembo brakes are upfront, with four-piston calipers at the rear.
The rear brake discs are single-piece, while the front discs are two-piece, 390mm diameter units. Michelin Pilot Super Sport tyres (265mm wide at the front with 295mm at the rear) are standard on this model. The clean lines of the interior may be compared to those of other Cadillac models; delta forms predominate no matter where you look. 16-way adjustable Recaro front seats are available as an option, but enormous, high-backed buckets limit rear leg room considerably.
The CTS-V’s aerodynamic bodywork distinguishes it from the standard vehicle. The wings expand to accommodate wider wheels, and a conventional carbon fiber hood includes an extractor for both heat and lift-reducing airflow in the center. The front fascia has a deeper splitter and bigger grille openings to help with the cooling demands of the 640bhp engine. Both the spoiler and front splitter are larger in size with the addition of the Carbon Fiber Package, which adds a 200mph spoiler as well as an additional 100mm to each splitter blade.
The CTS-V’s 642 horses are intoxicating, and the car maintains its momentum down the long front straight of Road America, where it reaches 150 mph before being forced to brake for the 70mph first turn. It appears that achieving Cadillac’s stated top speed of 200 mph takes only a few additional seconds.
The auto’s transmission is best left to shift for itself in Sport or Track modes, as well as any of their various sub-modes, for improved lap times. Dual-clutch shifts are quick, and downshifts are both rapid and rev-matched. On the other hand, enthusiastic road driving necessitates the use of magnesium shift paddles.
The brakes live up to their promise, performing the repeated high-speed decelerations that Road America necessitates, and braking performance was consistent over many flying runs. For any other vehicle, it would be a good idea to switch to higher-performance brake fluid, but there’s no way any CTS-V owner could overtax these brakes.
On track, the CTS-V doesn’t display any bad habits, from transitions to steady-state, on-limit cornering, and it’s remarkably well balanced. Much credit of the saloon’s confident handling is due to the latest version of GM’s Magnetic Ride Control dampers, which have well-defined modes.
In the harder settings, body and wheel motion are well controlled to keep the Michelin Pilot Super Sports in touch with the road surface, while a comfortable ride is of primary importance in touring mode. Carbonfiber and Alcantara trim line the inside. It’s even possible to add even more Alcantara to it, including the roofline, steering wheel, and shift knob.
The digital gauge display has been updated for the CTS-V, and the rest of the dashboard is conventional Cadillac, including the CUE infotainment system. If you’re a “set it and forget it” type, voice activation capabilities work well and keep your attention on the road.