2010 Cadillac CTS-V Road Test Review

Brian Armstead - CAP staff
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There's an old adage that says "power corrupts," and history has shown us examples of this across many spectrums.  Give a Governor the keys to the White House, and interns may run amok.  Give a despot the throne in some nations, and the results can be very detrimental to the population. 

So if power corrupts, what was Cadillac thinking when they gave the already potent CTS a huge increase in output and displacement and called it the CTS-V?   Well, power, of course!  In this case the power to run supreme with the established big dogs from Mercedes' AMG and BMW's M.  Long have the Germans reigned supreme in the wars for supremacy in the luxury performance sedan class.  For me, I am marking this day in time, because on this day I drove the 2010 CTS-V and had my vision of German superiority absolutely shattered. 

The essence of the CTS-V can be determined by pressing the "start" button on the dash.  No need to listen carefully, as the rumble of thunder is just that – 6.2 litres of supercharged American V8 performance is ready to explode, rendering the luxury sound deadening in the CTS-V virtually useless.  But this is the beauty of the CTS-V.  You want to hear every stroke of the sweet engine.

The CTS-V first bowed in the U.S. market in 2004, and featured an old school pushrod V8 engine that produced 400 horsepower and 395 pound-feet of torque. For 2006 models, Cadillac installed a 6.0-litre LS2 engine from the '06 Corvette to give the "V" more of a pedigree.  Power, however, was rated at the same 400hp/395 lb-ft as the 5.7-litre CTS-V.  You figure that one out. These are impressive numbers, but not enough to garner respect from the Germans.  First gen CTS-Vs were built from 2004-2007. 

There was no 2008 model, as Caddy was busy prepping the second generation CTS-V for its power trip.  First bowing in 2009, the new CTS-V had mind-blowing performance numbers including a 0-100km/h time of just over 4 seconds!  The new V8 engine is based on the LS9 V8 from the ZR1 supercar.  Oddly, but in true American fashion, it is still a pushrod (overhead valve) engine, whereas all CTS-V competitors use double overhead cam engines.  But General Motors' (Caddy's parent company) expertise with pushrod V8s is legend, so the CTS-V received all of the goodies that represent high-tech for this venerable arrangement.  For example, the engine block is lightweight cast aluminum with cast-iron cylinder liners.  The crankshaft is forged steel and controls the rise and fall of powdered metal connecting rods and high-silicon "Hypereutectic" pistons.  The roots-type supercharger is a twin, four-lobe unit built by Eaton and producing a maximum boost of nine psi.  A water-to-air intercooler creates cool, dense air for the combustion process. 

Power is transmitted to the ground via the standard six-speed manual transmission or optional six-speed automatic with manual driver shift control.  A manual transmission in a Cadillac?  I told you this was a power trip! 

You've for sure heard the expression "stupid fast" to characterize the performance of hot machinery.  I'd like to coin a new expression – "ignorant fast."  The CTS-V is so quick and so fast, other drivers will certainly be labeled ignorant for even thinking of testing the mettle of this performance beast.  This car is wicked.  Want to have some fun just once in your life?  Turn off the traction/stability control and light up the expensive 19-inch performance tires. 

Perhaps the most impressive thing about launching the CTS-V is the lack of drama in doing so.  Yes, it creates a bit of chaos when you hit the throttle in terms of V8 sound, but you launch in a straight line thanks to sophisticated onboard technology, most notably Stabilitrak electronic stability control and a beefed up Getrag limited slip differential.  There is no axle tramp when the prodigious power hits the rear wheels.  Half-shafts have also been strengthened to handle the extra torque. 

When it comes time to carve up the corners, the CTS-V has that down too, as Cadillac has employed its "Magnetic Ride Control" (MRC) suspension.  MRC uses shock absorbers controlled by electromagnets, filled with a special magnetic fluid that responds in near instant fashion to electrical impulses.  These impulses either thicken or thin the fluid based on road dynamics.  Driving through the corners hard?  The fluid thickens to firm up the shocks.  Just cruising the boulevard?  Thin fluid offers a traditional Cadillac luxury ride.  The system reads road conditions every millisecond, and is seamless and impressive.  Yes, thoughts of a BMW M5 crossed my mind each time I got behind the wheel. 

Braking is also impressive, with Brembo six-piston front and four-piston rear calipers providing rapid deceleration capability. 

The interior is typical Cadillac, which these days, is very, very good.  A mix of high-tech and traditional luxury blends to provide driver and passengers with myriad comfort and convenience features.  Standard goodies include a thick leather-wrapped steering wheel; XM Satellite Radio; OnStar telematics; Bose 5.1 surround system with 40 GB hard drive and iPod connection; navigation; LED ambient lighting; leather seats; metal trim accents, and much, much more. 

On the safety front, Cadillac is also on a power trip with the Germans.  No longer do you have to buy a Benz or Bimmer to keep you and your family surrounded with the latest safety gear.  Caddys traditionally do well in insurance company and US Government crash testing.  Cadillacs also score high in industry customer satisfaction surveys. 

Pricewise, you'll need to sit down, because you won't believe the bargain the CTS-V is.  Extreme power, breathtaking styling, full luxe interior, and superb road manners will cost you a scant $72,045.  My tester was equipped with excellent Recaro sport seats, and other options.  Do the math and compare the CTS-V with the price of an E63 AMG (base MSRP is $106,900) or M5 (the same at $106,900).  According to Cadillac testing, the CTS-V is the world's highest performance luxury sedan, having lapped the famed Nürburgring in 7:59.32 on street tires! 

Sadly, I only spent two hundred miles with the CTS-V.  My city was bombarded by successive blizzards that dumped more than a metre of snow in my area.  Driving home the evening the snow started, I encountered about an inch in my neighborhood.  The CTS-V got briefly stuck on a very small incline just in front of my home as I was pulling into my driveway, so there was no way I could drive it anymore as the snow deepened.  It pained me to see the car buried in three feet of snow, knowing the mighty V8 was within inches, yet so far away.  This is not a car for snowy climates.  Leave it parked until spring if you live in the frost belt. 

The CTS-V is remarkably fun to drive, and is a remarkable value as well.  My time with you was too short dear friend!

©(Copyright Canadian Auto Press)

Topics: Sedan, Cadillac, 2010, CTS-V, $50,000 - $74,999,

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