Germany takes on the U.S. for super sedan supremacy

The new BMW M5 has arrived, boasting a boatload of power, oodles of luxury, the traditional German refinement, and even a performance AWD system that’ll go full Gymkhana-RWD-smoke-machine at the touch of a button. Sweet. So then, it seems like all the stuff you’d expect, plus a ‘lil extra on top, right? Should be about right for anyone looking for superlative performance in a high-status package – a.k.a., the standard M5 owner. But here’s the thing - the Bavarians aren’t alone anymore. The luxury performance four-door segment has more than a few tempting options on hand at the moment – take, for example, the Cadillac CTS-V, a tire-shredding monster with every intention of toppling the Teutonic status quo. Both rock sports car specs, plus acres of hide and top-shelf opulence. So how do they line up?

To find out, we dug into the info sheets and laid it all on the table. In this quick comparison, we take a look at the exterior, interior, drivetrain, and prices for both, drawing a few conclusions on the way. Is the Caddy the new king, or can Bimmer reassert its dominance?

Continue reading for a quick comparison between the BMW M5 and Cadillac CTS-V.

Exterior

BMW M5

2018 BMW M5 High Resolution Exterior
- image 727585

For the 2018 model year, BMW updated the exterior styling of the M5 with exactly what you’d expect from a high-performance model, such as revised bodywork and larger intakes, aluminum and carbon fiber-reinforced plastic construction, and standard 19-inch wheels. Optional equipment includes 20-inch rollers. In back, you’ll find four polished exhaust pipes with a rounded shape.

Overall, the look doesn’t vary a whole lot from what we’ve seen before from BMW, riding a fine line between aggression and refinement.

Overall, the look doesn’t vary a whole lot from what we’ve seen before from BMW. The headlights get a lit surround for the projectors, while a kidney-shaped grille sits in between. The lines are bold and chiseled, riding a fine line between aggression and refinement. The profile gets a slight rake to the stance, while the squared rear end enhances the forward-leaning shape. It’s a look we like, mixing athleticism with elegance in a tight, cohesive package. Granted, it’s nothing terribly revolutionary – we’ve seen this before from BMW, and it looks as good as it always has.

Cadillac CTS-V

2016 Cadillac CTS-V Exterior
- image 599745
640 horsepower, carbon fiber everywhere, 3.7 seconds to 60 mph, 200-mph top speed, and four door... `Murica!!!

The CTS-V is also equipped with a variety of speed details well suited for the segment in question. Standard spec includes a carbon fiber hood, with the option for further carbon fiber for the vents, front splitter, rear spoiler and rear diffuser. The extra composites and aero enhancements are offered with the Carbon Fiber package, while wide, 19-inch wheels are used in the corners.

Compared to the M5, the Caddy is much more in your face when it comes to announcing its performance intentions.

Compared to the M5, the Caddy is much more in your face when it comes to announcing its performance intentions, especially with the optional carbon package. Whereas the M5 incorporates its swoops and cuts and vents and aero in a subtle, cohesive way, the Cadillac seems to take a more “tacked-on” approach. The various bits of go-fast styling look like they were added later on in the design process – take the rear wing and enormous hood louvers as good examples of that. Of course, that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Some folks prefer the more brash, boisterous American attitude of the Caddy, and we can respect that.

Exterior Dimensions

BMW M5 Cadillac CTS-V
Wheelbase (Inches) 117.40 114.6
Length (Inches) 195.47 197.6
Width (Inches) 74.92 72.2
Height (Inches) 57.99 57.2
Track front/rear (Inches) 64.01/62.79 62.1/61.2

Interior

BMW M5

2018 BMW M5 High Resolution Interior
- image 727597

Inside the M5, things are once again as you’d expect, with a driver-oriented layout and dash design similar to what you get in the 7 Series. A stubby drive system controller is mounted on the central tunnel, while the seats come covered in merino leather. These sitters get electrical adjustment in a plethora of directions, plus ventilation and massage functions, not to mention decent side support. Apple CarPlay, a Wi-Fi hotspot, wireless phone charging, and gesture control are all onboard, while the optional tech package adds a 10.25-inch screen mounted to the top of the dash.

The BMW is a nice place to be.

Take a step back, and you’ll quickly notice the cabin of the BMW as all horizontal lines and shiny trim, plus lots of buttons and soft-touch surfaces. It’s a nice place to be, offering lots of comfort, plus the right performance-oriented gear when you need it, once again striking a balance between going fast and going comfortably.

Cadillac CTS-V

2016 Cadillac CTS-V High Resolution Interior
- image 599740

Step into the CTS-V and you’ll find a generous heaping of semi-aniline leather upholstery, plus suede microfiber accents and matte-finish carbon fiber. The seats are 20-way adjustable heated and ventilated buckets with impressive side bolsters, but if you need even more side support, you can get yours with Recaro buckets instead. The CUE system provides the platform for information and entertainment, complemented by a heads-up display, voice command, navigation, a Bose Surround Sound stereo, Siri Eyes Free, and a 4G Wi-Fi hot spot. A 12.3-inch instrument panel cluster is mounted behind the steering wheel. Helping the driver is a front curb-view camera for easier parking, as well as automatic parking assist, side blind zone alert, forward collision alert, lane keep assist, and rear cross traffic alert. There’s also a Performance Data Recorder for on-track heroics.

While it’s sure to be quite comfortable, the CTS-V definitely looks dated in its design.

While it’s sure to be quite comfortable, the CTS-V definitely looks dated in its design, especially the center stack, which appears as though it was plucked from the year 2000. Given a choice, the BMW definitely looks like the better option for long-distance travel. That isn’t to say the CTS-V isn’t nice – you still get some pretty sweet amenities and luxury-oriented features, but unfortunately, the BMW wins overall in this category.

Drivetrain

BMW M5

2018 BMW M5 High Resolution Drivetrain
- image 727612
...And what the badge really means!

The really big news for the BMW M5 this time around is the inclusion of 4WD, a first in the history of the nameplate. Previously rocking a RWD layout, the new M5 still has the ability to smoke the meats on demand thanks to a 2WD drive mode. There are also several settings for routing power to all four corners, including 4WD Sport, which promises a little rear slip when pushing hard for “easily controlled drifts” (take that Ken Block). An active M differential for the rear axle also helps it put the power down when traction is preferred.

Making the go is a 4.4-liter V-8 with two turbochargers, producing as much as 600 horsepower and 553 pound-feet of torque.

Making the go is a 4.4-liter V-8 with two turbochargers, producing as much as 600 horsepower and 553 pound-feet of torque. The 0-to-62 mph is done in 3.4 seconds, while top speed is limited at 155 mph. Get the optional M Driver’s package, and you’ll see 189 mph at the top end. An eight-speed M Steptronic transmission swaps cogs. Under the bodywork is a suspension set-up honed on the Nurburgring, also with multiple driving modes. Hauling it down are standard M compound brakes with six-pot calipers in front, while the option for carbon brakes is on the list.

While we’re sad to see the V-10 engine lose a few cylinders, the prodigious power levels of the new M5 still manage to impress.

While we’re sad to see the V-10 engine lose a few cylinders, the prodigious power levels of the new M5 still manage to impress. 600 horses and a 0-to-60 mph time in the low-3-second range is exactly what we’d want from the model, and the addition of a variable AWD system makes it all much more useable in the real world. The suspension is also sure to find that enviable balance between luxury and agility, and we’d love to see what it’s like on the street and track against the competition.

Cadillac CTS-V

2016 Cadillac CTS-V Drivetrain
- image 599743

Pulling from the GM parts bin, the CTS-V is certainly well equipped when it comes to under-hood firepower. Rocking the same supercharged 6.2-liter V-8 as the Corvette Z06, the CTS-V manages as much as 640 horsepower and 630 pound-feet of torque, which is good enough for a sprint to 60 mph in 3.7 seconds and a top speed of 200 mph. An eight-speed automatic with launch control and Performance Algorithm Shifting routes it all to the rear, where an electronic limited-slip differential helps put it all to the pavement. The third-generation Magnetic Ride Control and competition-spec traction control plus multiple drive modes help it handle, while the suspension is upgraded with strut braces, an engine bay V-brace, upper tie braces, and a stiffer chassis. ZF helps the steering with variable ratio power feedback. Brembo was sourced for the brakes, with 15.3-inch rotors and six-pot calipers in front, while the rear wears 14.3-inch rear rotors and four-pot calipers.

Rocking the same supercharged 6.2-liter V-8 as the Corvette Z06, the CTS-V manages as much as 640 horsepower and 630 pound-feet of torque.

Although it’s significantly more powerful, the CTS-V loses a bit of steam in the 0-to-60 mph sprint against the BMW M5, most likely due to traction issues with the RWD system. And while it should handle spectacularly on the track, CTS-V is also known for its rather harsh ride compared to the more refined BMW. But that’s the tradeoff – do you want something more connected, or something that floats a little more?

BMW M5 Cadillac CTS-V
Engine 4.4-liter V-8 6.2L supercharged V-8
Horsepower 600 HP @ 5,600 – 6,700 RPM 640 HP @ 6,400 RPM
Torque 553 LB-FT @ 1,800 – 5,600 RPM 630 Lb-FT @ @ 3,600 RPM
Transmission Eight-speed M Steptronic Eight-speed, electronically controlled, automatic
0 to 60 mph 3.4 seconds 3.7 seconds
Top Speed 155 mph 200 mph

Prices

BMW M5

2018 BMW M5 High Resolution Exterior
- image 727611
And the bage you know you want!

BMW has yet to announce pricing for the U.S.-bound M5, but did mention a figure of 117,900 Euros ($140,655 at current exchange rates, 08/25/2017) for buyers across the pond. Stateside, we’re expecting a price tag closer to $100,000, but that number will surely skyrocket with options.

Cadillac CTS-V

2016 Cadillac CTS-V Exterior
- image 599735

The Cadillac CTS-V starts at just $85,995, making it significantly cheaper than the Bimmer. And that’s a good thing if you like to get frisky with the options list.

Conclusion

2018 BMW M5
- image 727708
2016 Cadillac CTS-V
- image 728449

So then, where’d we end up?

For starters, the Bimmer is a sophisticated, stylish, well engineered four-door with simply ludicrous performance potential. It looks good without shouting about it, and the interior is well appointed and high-tech. It’s got loads of power, and with AWD, a nice bump to practicality as well.

By comparison, the Cadillac is more powerful, but not quite as quick and practical without AWD. It’s also much more aggressive looking, and the interior isn’t at the same levels as the BMW. It’s also significantly cheaper, and if track days are a hobby, it’s got the options to provide the thrills.

Looking for a top-shelf cruise missile for high-speed horizon-seeking? Get the BMW. Want to get noticed for less money, and care less about comfort and features, and more about nailing those apexes? Get the Cadillac.

References

2018 BMW M5

2018 BMW M5 High Resolution Exterior
- image 727614

Read our full review on the 2018 BMW M5.

2016 Cadillac CTS-V

2016 Cadillac CTS-V High Resolution Exterior
- image 599734

Read our full review on the 2016 Cadillac CTS-V.

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