Friday, September 18, 2009

2009 Cadillac CTS-V, an AutoWeek Drivers Log


The 2009 Cadillac CTS-V

SENIOR EDITOR FOR NEWS BOB GRITZINGER: If Mercedes’ 2010 E63 AMG represents the return of the Hammer, this Cadillac is the sledge to beat. At this price, it surely undercuts cars like the E63 and other Euro competitors, without giving an inch in performance. With 556 hp on tap and torque to burn, the CTS-V remains a relative luxury performance bargain. Cars like the E may offer more technological features, but when it comes to powerful sounds and putting the horses to the pavement, the V delivers with the best of them. Handling is equally impressive, regardless of road surface, and becomes very taut when you punch up the performance setting. Conversely, it’s really noticeable that the suspension softens nicely in “touring” mode.


The V looks sharp and sounds impressive, even at idle, but it doesn’t really jump out as something as special as it is--which in my book is a great thing. No need to alert the authorities, or the competition, of your true capabilities.

EDITORIAL ASSISTANT JONATHAN WONG: Cadillac has gone to great lengths to prove that the CTS-V is a world-class performance car and not a one-trick pony that can only light it up in a straight line. The previous car was campaigned in the Speed World Challenge Series GT class and won a few championships there. Of course, there are the romps around the Nürburgring and Cadillac’s claim that the new car is aiming for the track record for a production sedan on factory-spec street tires. Nonetheless, the new CTS-V can handle, and that’s something the world didn’t expect from an American car until not that long ago.

With a detuned version of the engine from the Corvette ZR1, the V really moves, and the six-speed automatic does an OK job of getting the power to the ground, but the six-speed Tremec manual should be the choice for car guys. The auto is slow to shift in manual mode, but in full auto, it is tuned to downshift fairly quickly when giving the boot.

However, performance comes at the expense of ride comfort. Even with the magnetic ride suspension in touring mode, it’s still a rather stiff roller coaster. You can attribute some of the blame to the Michelin Pilot Sport tires. The casual consumer who just wants the baddest thing on the block might want to consider something else. But for those cross-shopping this with the E63 and M3/M5s of the world, they know what they are getting into and won’t mind the ride so much.

Steering weight is light with instant response. Brakes are strong with a nice firm pedal. With the suspension in sport mode, it’s great through curves and when taking on on-ramps.

The V changes in the interior are nice with the sculpted bucket seats, and the Alcantara-wrapped steering wheel is a cool motorsports-inspired touch. Outside, I’ve always been a fan of the V series’ front chainmail grilles, and the rims look sweet.

2009 Cadillac CTS-V

In Fleet: July 2-16

As-Tested Price: $68,135

Drivetrain: 6.2-liter supercharged V8; RWD, six-speed automatic

Output: 556 hp @ 6,100 rpm, 551 lb-ft @ 3,800 rpm

Curb Weight: 4,300 lb

Fuel Economy: (EPA/AW) 14/15.6 mpg

Options: Recaro high-performance seats, metal pedals ($3,400); navigation system with XM navigation with first three months’ service included ($2,145); thunder gray chromaflair premium paint ($995); V-specific suede steering wheel, shift knob ($300)

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