2014 Cadillac XTS VSport

GOLDSBORO, N.C. — It seems the headlines coming from Cadillac these days are all about the new all-new 2014 CTS and also its all-new VSport model. The CTS VSport features a twin-turbo version of Cadillac's 3.6-liter direct-injection V-6 making 420 horsepower and producing performance in the upper ranges of 4 seconds from 0-to-60.

What you might
not know and we are here to inform you — the bigger flagship Cadillac XTS also gets the same engine in its own top-line VSport edition for 2014. Small difference is that it has been slightly "detuned" to 410 horses and 369 pound-feet of torque running through a six-speed automatic (the CTS operates with an eight-speed), and it's tasked to pull about 245 more pounds than the CTS.

While the CTS has a sports sedan image to uphold, the XTS is the advanced Baby Boomer's ride to the country club or the board meeting. Sports sedan is not part of its persona and doesn't need to be. What this new engine brings to the XTS is heart-stopping performance when you are inclined to slam the accelerator to the floor.

The twin turbos spool up (with maximum torque reached at just 1,900 rpms) and the XTS slams forward — with automatic shifts touching redline — reaching 60 miles per hour in just over five seconds. The performance is similar to what was expected of the "standard of the world" back in the days of yore when luxury was a synonym for power. The VSport dishes out straight-ahead in-your-face speed. If you keep your foot in it for a quarter mile expect to reach 103 mph in about 13.5 seconds. The only difference from the old days is this immense power comes from six cylinders instead of eight.

Much to our amazement there was a hint of torque steer even in our all-wheel drive Platinum Edition (not conducive to modern sports sedan performance), and Cadillac has done nothing special to tune the suspension, bring some additional handling prowess to the equation, or increase the size of the brakes over the standard 3.6-liter 304-horsepower XTS. But we found the standard version XTS capable of handling the extra 100-plus horses with aplomb.

Our XTS test car came with standard Magnetic Ride Control — what Cadillac calls the world’s fastest-reacting suspension — while the advanced all-wheel-drive system uses Haldex technology with an electronic limited-slip differential to transfer power front-to-back, and side-to-side, along the rear axle.

Never mind what the XTS lacks BMW-like road-carving attributes, we found it a blast to drive particularly when a quick dose of performance was needed to pass a slower moving vehicle on a two-lane road or to quickly — very quickly — merge into freeway traffic at 75 mph. These maneuvers were all made in the lap of almost extreme luxury making them even more satisfying.

The XTS comes in three "Collections" — Luxury, Premium and Platinum. Platinum includes such standard equipment as 20-inch wheels with chrome accents, unique exterior styling, adaptive cruise control with low-speed automatic braking, a panoramic sunroof, a power rear sunshade, a faux suede headliner and additional cabin leather trim with upgraded upholstery for the seats.

Additional standard equipment includes such goodies as adaptive headlamps; automatic high beams; a head-up display; an upgraded driver-configurable gauge cluster display; tri-zone automatic climate control; a 110-volt power outlet; a navigation system; voice controls; a 14-speaker Bose surround-sound audio system; rear seat audio controls; and a suite of safety features that include blind-spot detection, lane departure warning, rear cross-traffic alerts and front collision alerts.

One of the safety features we found interesting — and even entertaining — was the vibrating driver's seat that Cadillac calls "directional tactile sensation." The vibrating pulse occurs on the left or right side of the seat to alert drivers of danger on either side, or if the car has drifted over the outside traffic line or the center line. Threats from the front or rear trigger pulses from both sides of the seat.

Inside, the high-tech touchscreen Cue infotainment system is state-of-the-art, but it can prove a headache and like most of the new advanced systems, forces the driver to take his eyes off the road to accomplish what was once a simple task in less complicated times.

While the XTS VSport is supremely entertaining, it is an expensive upgrade of $5,835, starting at $63,020 including destination charge. Our Platinum Edition carried a bottom line of $70,090. Whether VSport is entertaining enough to command that hefty price depends on your need for speed and the size of your pocketbook.

— Jim Meachen