Cadillac CTS-V Coupe — Keeps one young

By Al Vinikour

GM’s Cadillac Motor Division once had a tag line that read, “Cadillac…Standard of Excellence Throughout the World.” It might want to think up a new slogan, something like, “Cadillac…Supersonic Luxury.”

Full discloser: I’m 66 years-old and when I was told I was going to test a Cadillac for a week I was kind of looking forward to spending some days in something extravagant. Lately I have been in 4x4 diesel pickups that required climbing usually associated with Marine Corps boot camp.

I did notice it was a CTS which is the “baby Cadillac.” I’ve driven them before and they handle really well and I remembered them as being rather road-mannerly. Imagine my shock when I picked the vehicle up at the airport after returning from a ride/drive program on the West Coast and seeing this gray beast sitting in a parking space looking like it’s ready to pounce on Godzilla.

Right away I noticed the special “V-Series” logo that signifies this might be a Cadillac CTS coupe alright…but it’s the supercharged performance version of the CTS that is not for the faint of heart. One look at its bulbous hood lets one know there’s not a rubber band under it. Rather, as mentioned, the CTS-V is powered by an awesome 6.2-liter supercharged V-8 that delivers 556 horsepower with 551 pound-feet of torque. It’s the most powerful engine offered in Cadillac’s history. (Think of it as the “Family Corvette.”)

While my test vehicle was equipped with GM’s six-speed Hydra-Matic transmission it can be also ordered with a six-speed manual. I was able to break traction and burn rubber from a 40-mph roll so I can imagine how quickly a pair of rear tires could be burned up when popping the clutch and full-throttling it from a dead stop. Those 19” painted all-aluminum wheels and performance tires would spin around faster than a horn-dog’s neck strolling along Copacabana Beach.

The sloping, large Cadillac grille is a necessity to provide extra cooling for the powerplant. It leads back to the aforementioned hood and the swept-look continues to the rear end, which is done up in a V-shape. Centered below the rear bumper is a massive pair of chrome exhaust tips. Jose Feliciano could see this vehicle is not an old man’s ride.

LED lights are prevalent throughout the front and rear. The CTS-V Coupe sits lower to the ground than its sibling CTS-V sedan or CTS-V Sport Wagon. I thought the side view needed more delineation as it comes across a little bloated. Granted, the C-pillar has a nice forward slant but maybe it’s the handle-less door openers that round it out too much. The doors open similar to the Corvette, where the button is hidden inside an open notch below the B-pillar.

The outside rearview mirrors are stylized more than the usual rectangular shapes one usually expects. They take a little getting used to but once that obstacle is met they actually frame what’s behind you a little better.

My vehicle was painted Thunder Gray Chromaflair, which adds $995 to the vehicle’s cost. Furthermore, it had the Midnight Sapele Wood Trim Package, a beautiful appointment that added $600 to the cost. Want another “bauble?” It had a sueded steering wheel & shifter that cost another $300. Add it up, Euclid; that’s an additional $1,895 for just those appearance items. But, and I don’t mean this pejoratively, this is a Cadillac, after all.

You don’t really realize how massive the CTS-V Coupe’s doors are until you go to open them and then try to close them while you’re inside the vehicle. My test vehicle had the optional Recaro High Performance Seats ($3,400) with an exclusive new Saffron color option for the interior that provided a contrasting color accent carried on the seat inserts as well as the stitching. For those with an ample (how you say) tuchus, however, you basically have to drill your ass into it. However, “normal-sized” people will find it extremely beneficial in holding them securely in the seats during high-speed maneuvers.

From a driver’s standpoint I liked the interior very much. Instrumentation color is easy on the eyes and well-positioned. The center stack is very busy and not that intuitive but it’s awfully plentiful with gadgets. It has touch-screen pop-up navigation. There’s a wealth of storage areas inside but it could use a little deeper cup holders in the front-seat center console.

Audiophiles will love the standard Bose 5.1 Surround System. There are all the internal luxury items you’d expect in a Cadillac. The only additional thing I would have liked to have seen is a Blind Spot Information System in the outside rearview mirrors. Something that important deserves to be standard on every vehicle — especially a luxury one.
Now that I’m done telling you what it has and what I did and didn’t like it’s time to open up about the real reason for purchasing a vehicle like the 2011 CTS-V Coupe. It’s the Fountain of Youth that Ponce de Leon never found. Driving it is one of the great thrills of motoring.

The 200 mph speedometer is not window dressing. I’ve driven vehicles upwards of 170 mph on a public highway and I have no doubt the CTS-V can make up the difference and bury the speedometer. It corners like a Formula 1 race car and if you think you’re going too fast you can depend on the Brembo brakes at all four corners that include powerful, six-piston calipers in the front and four-piston calipers in the rear. You may not stop on a dime…but you will on a penny.

I do not advocate a novice driver take the CTS-V out and try to put it through its paces. It will get away from him (or her) and is unforgiving enough to be uncontrollable in the hands of someone who hasn’t driven a lot of performance vehicles. But for those who can handle it and relish the enjoyment of a pure driving experience the CTS-V fills the bill.

There’s nothing like the sound and feel of that much power at your fingertips. So, thanks, Cadillac, for building one hell of a ride. CTS-V does you proud.

Base price: $62,165; price as tested, $70,885                                             
Engine:6.2-liter Supercharged V-8

Horsepower: 556

Torque: 551 pound-feet                                                                           
Drive: rear wheel
Transmission:Six-speed Hydra-Matic 6L90 

Seating: 2/2

Wheelbase:113.4 inches

Length:188.5 inches

Curb weight: 3,924 pounds

Turning circle: 35.9 feet

Mileage:12 mpg city/18 mpg highway

0-60: 3.9 seconds

Also consider: Mercedes-Benz C63; BMW M5  

The Good:

• Crouching cheetah stance                                                                     
• Faster than fast                                                                                   
• A four-passenger Corvette ZR1

The Bad:                                                                                               
• Huge front doors make opening and closing them an effort                         
• All-out performance mode burns gas quicker than an M1A1 Main Battle Tank

The Ugly:

• Larger behinds squeezed too tightly in Recaro High Performance Seats
• And paying $3,400 extra for the privilege