There is nothing better than test driving a sports car. The manufacturer expects you to run it to the limits, so you can go home and write about how powerful/fast/nimble the car is. Our experience with the preview of the Cadillac CTS-V was no exception. As mentioned earlier in the week, we were invited to take a day putting Cadillac’s 556 hp supercharged CTS-V through its paces at the Monticello racetrack in New York.
The power was always there, from the moment I stepped on the accelerator until I hit the engine’s rev limiter. When I hit the gas, I immediately found myself stuck to the seat. I would have screamed, but instead just simply shut up and wondered if it is the end of the world! The CTS-V’s delivery is almost is so abrupt that I would hate to see the look of terror on my face. But this was quickly replaced by a smile when I realized I was always under control… and alive.
More after the jump.
The only problem I had with the engine was in the gearchange. The car revved so quickly I hit that occasionally ran the redline (6,200 RPM) during the switch and had to wait to get back into the power band. This is a problem I wish I had in more cars.
With the manual gearbox all is very easy, enough said. The automatic is very good as well, but when using the wheel mounted gear buttons, I had to pay attention to change gear just before the rev limiter or else I got some jittery reactions. Then again, I was also able to spin the wheels in second gear – not an easy feat for an automatic.
But this car was not unwieldy child. The Michelin SP2 tires did an amazing job keeping the car on the road. The ABS and ESP worked well together, and I never felt the car come loose at any point. I’m by no means a professional race driver, but even I could make perfect drifting curves. Just point the wheel where you want to go and let the back tail doing its thing.
The most impressive behavior was revealed on the track when I was pushing it far too hard and braking far too late. The tire grip would always slow me down before going off track, and I was always confident the car would simply go exactly where I want to.
The acceleration is non-stop. I could only get it up to 140 mph in the straightway at Monticello but it feels much faster. Although Cadillac says the car tops out at 191, I feel like the car would go up to 200 without any problem. Braking at that speed is incredibly easy, simply punch the central pedal and even with all assist turned off (“competitive mode” they call it,) there is not a tire squeal, no smoke nothing... It makes me feel like a better driver than I truly know I am.
The steering and suspension are supposed to get a little tougher and sharper when the suspension mode is put into “sport”, but you will only notice it at slower speed. The comfort of steering and suspension is a great compromise between sharpness and comfort. I never felt the car was uncomfortable or too reactive – the CTS-V didn’t feel like a race car on back roads, and on the track it never felt too much like a sedan. The magnetic ride control is in great part responsible for that dual feeling.
The heart of the ride comes from the car’s rigidity. One of GM’s engineers told me that the base CTS was designed thinking about a V version coming up. That means when it came time to develop this car, the engineers we not starting with an ordinary sedan, and that makes a big difference.
At this point the interior seems almost secondary. But it is worth mentioning Cadillac’s addition of Recaro sport seats to the CTS’s standard interior. They are a must-have in the corners.
Overall this is definitely making a good case for TopSeed Car of the Year. The CTS-V was a great surprise for all of the staff. Hopefully this is a direction that Cadillac will keep following in the future, finally getting into BMW territory via the super performance. Way to go Cadillac.