A heavyweight on paper, it might be few weight classes lower on the road

A lot has been said about the Cadillac CT5-V since it first arrived in 2019 as the supposed replacement to the V Sport. Cadillac has gotten mixed reviews on every facet of the CT5-V. From its looks to its quality to its output to its performance, the CT5-V has become polarizing in so many ways. It also hasn’t been immune to a myriad of issues, including, as The Smoking Tire’s Matt Farah found out, a less-than-stellar 10-speed automatic transmission that doesn’t respond to the driver as well as we all thought it could. The CT5-V remains a solid performer in its segment, but is it really a proper replacement to the monster-engined CTS-V or is it more like the middle of the pack V-Sport model? Based on Farah’s experience, it looks, drives, and feels more like the latter.

Is the Cadillac CT5-V being packaged as something that it isn’t?

For the record, the Cadillac CT5-V is powered by a twin-turbo 3.0-liter V-6 engine that pumps out 360 horsepower and 405 pound-feet of torque. The engine is mated to a 10-speed automatic transmission, and while rear-wheel drive comes standard, there is an option to upgrade to all-wheel drive.

In terms of just engine size, you know that the CT5-V is a long way away from the mighty 6.2-liter supercharged V-8-powered CTS-V.

Let’s get that out of the way first because saying that the CT5-V is the successor to the CTS-V is a downright insult to the mighty performance car. Instead, consider the CT5-V as the replacement to the old CTS V Sport, a car that was largely beloved during its run.

It Looks Like The Cadillac CT5-V Isn't Even Meant to Be a Performance Car
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So the CT5-V has big shoes to fill, and while it’s true that Cadillac’s new performance sedan still packs a punch with a strong twin-turbo V-6 that goes well with the model’s attractive (for me, at least) design, its driving dynamics have been largely hit or miss depending on the particular unit that was being driven.

2020 Cadillac CT5-V specifications
Engine Type: 3.0L Twin Turbo V-6
Valvetrain: Dual-overhead camshafts, four valves per cylinder, dual-independent valve timing and Active Fuel Management
Fuel Delivery: Direct, high-pressure fuel injection
Turbocharging System: Twin low-inertia twin-scroll turbochargers with electronically controlled wastegates and water-to-air intercooling
Horsepower (hp / kW @ rpm): 360 / 265 @ 5600 (SAE Certified)
Torque (lb.-ft. / Nm @ rpm): 405 lb.-ft. of torque (550 Nm) (SAE Certified)
Transmission Type: Hydra-Matic 10L80 ten-speed automatic

What was Matt Farah’s issue with the Cadillac CT5-V?

It Looks Like The Cadillac CT5-V Isn't Even Meant to Be a Performance Car
- image 936544

Unfortunately for Matt Farah, it looks like the model he got to test out didn’t do much to convince him that the CT5-V is a force to be reckoned with when it goes up against the likes of the BMW M340i, Mercedes-AMG C43, and Audi S4. At the heart of Farah’s frustration was the CT5-V’s 10-speed automatic gearbox, specifically the lackadaisical way it downshifts when hitting corners. The host was visibly frustrated during his review of the performance sedan, and you can tell towards the end how he seemingly had had enough of the gearbox’s supposed shortcomings.

While it’s entirely possible that Farah received a faulty CT5-V to review, it doesn’t put Caddy in a good light to have such a prominent car guy have such a horrible experience with a car that’s supposedly America’s answer to Germany’s prime performance sedans.
It Looks Like The Cadillac CT5-V Isn't Even Meant to Be a Performance Car
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Perhaps Farah’s experience is an anomaly; other reviews of the CT5-V netted more favorable comments about the performance sedan’s driving dynamics and road agility.

The CT5-V is supposed to be a performance car. If something as important as the sedan’s automatic gearbox is giving it problems, then it’s a legitimate question to ask if it really is a performance car.

Kirby Garlitos
Automotive Aftermarket Expert - kirby@topspeed.com
Kirby’s first exposure into the world of automobiles happened when he caught Knight Rider on television as a five-year old boy. David Hasselhoff didn’t leave much of an impression on him (that happened later on in Baywatch), but KITT certainly did. To this day, Kirby remains convinced that he will one day own a car with the same ‘spirit’ as the original KITT (not the 2008 monstrosity). He doesn't know when that will be, but until then, he’s committed to expressing his love for KITT, and all cars for that matter, here at TopSpeed.  Read More
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