2008 was the year of the car. The cheap speed seemed to be in full effect from 638 hp $106,500 Corvette ZR1s to 265 hp $25,000 Subaru WRX s; Lamborghini seemed to have more versions of vehicles than total production a few decades ago; and although the Nissan GT-R was our favorite last year, we didn’t get our hands on one until this year.
2009 doesn’t look as promising. The global economic meltdown has not just sent domestic automakers running for cover, but also has sent manufacturers worldwide cutting forecasts and/or looking for help. The fast and fun cars that we love usually sell in the smallest numbers and are likely the first to get slashed.
We hope our job of finding the Car of the Year may be as fruitful next year, because this year we had a fine crop to choose from. So let the dissention begin as TopSpeed’s 2008 car of the year is…
Vast improvement is not how vehicles get the nod for car of the year; it takes lot more than that. The CTS-V got on our list because it can stand toe-to-toe with the benchmark BMW M5 at a $28,000 discount. What made it top our list was being an all-around performer.
What gets our attention first, of course, is the engine. It’s a 6.2-liter supercharged V8 that shares a bloodline with the Corvette ZR1 and puts out 556 hp.
The powerplant isn’t everything. It has to work well with all the other elements, and Cadillac didn’t leave that on the design table. The Magnetic Ride Control uses electrically charged fluid to give infinite ride characteristics and instant adjustments. The six-speed manual (which we prefer to the seven-speed paddle shifter) has short throws and a dual clutch. All of this is topped off with an aluminum Brembo disc brake package.
When General Motors gave us some track time with the car we were smitten.
The fit and finish of the interior were on the level with it competitors, which is a big improvement on GM’s part. The layout isn’t as smart as the Europeans, but we are willing to forgive.
This is the kind of car that has the everyday usability to drop the kids off at school; but it’s also got the huge wild side that allows us to then play hookey from work and go pick up the mistress.
So that’s our lover letter to the CTS-V. Will it survive the automotive massacre of 2009? That’s unknown. Does it deserve a stay of execution? Absolutely.