Breathe. Remember this when you drive the Cadillac CTS-V. No matter what happens, continue to breathe, lest you fall victim to what us aviators call G-LOCing, or G-Force Loss-of-Consciousness. Steady, rhythmic breaths will help your body cope with the stresses induced by a four-door sedan capable of hurtling your fragile, carbon based body into speeds that challenge the Theory of Relativity. Entering hyperspace, where the gravity wells of passing stars actually start to affect the navigation system of the CTS-V, you might forget this simple fact, pass out, and crash the American-built sports sedan that beats its German competitors into submission.
The 2009 Cadillac CTS-V warns you about its evil intentions with a niftier mesh grill (from the same suppliers that gave the Bentley Continental its garish nose), a power bulge, six-piston brake calipers with vented disks peeking out from polished aluminum rims, and a lip spoiler doubling as the brake light. The mods give the high-test V just enough visual octane to separate it from the stunning base model. The CTS-V’s ice cold Americana makes the BMW M3 and Audi RS4 look like Solid Gold dancers.
The CTS-V offers one of the most interesting and beautiful automotive interiors on the market, at any price. The two-tone black and beige interior [not shown here] mocks the dour Europeans with its elegance, while the polished black trim, high quality plastics, and unusual yet effective placement of secondary controls delight the senses. The CTS-V provides the kind of mass market elegance previously restricted to Jaguar XF drivers.
To wit: the CTS’ designers have placed the heated seat controls at the bottom of the control stack with their own LCD screen control, angled towards the occupant. The set-up combines deft ergonomics with a brand-appropriate touch of class. The Cadillac CTS-V’s chrome stereo controls sit below a polished clock. They’re far more user-friendly than BMW’s iDrive (you nuts?) or Audi’s MMI (My Mental Ignorance?). The needles in the Caddy’s instrument cluster contain combat cool red LED chaser lights that enable mission critical visual scanning.
The Cadillac CTS-V’s start button awakens a 556 bhp supercharged 6.2L LSA V-8 engine, derived from the LS9 powerplant used in the “Blue Devil” Corvette ZR-1. The burble coming out the Caddy’s back end mimics muscle cars of old and Mercedes C63 AMG of today. On a cold Dallas day, pure malice tumbled from the CTS-V’s twin tips, turning into a dragon-like fog. Once the engine warmed, the distant sound of detonating explosives settled into a smooth purr.
As we departed Lemmon Ave. and headed for the interstate, the CTS-V’s automatic transmission grabbed gears as smoothly as the Rifleman spinning his weapon. Just 3.9 seconds later I was breaking the legal limit. A mere 0.1 seconds after that, I started using fighter jet techniques to maintain consciousness. Peaceful negotiations had broken down inside this Caddy’s power bulge. Somewhere beyond the horizon, small countries trembled in fear.
The recently demobilized GM Performance Vehicle Operations team have banished the driveline shunt that turned the previous generation CTS-V into a cruel joke. Leaving . . . the rush. The sheer magnitude of the event unleashed by pressing a simple plastic pedal left me giddy with go-fast. The CTS-V’s torque could talk softly but it carried one hell of a big stick.
This is the part of the review where I say an over-engined American car falls off the edge of the world—as poor steering, bad brakes and dubious chassis control conspire against life, liberty and the pursuit of German sports sedans. Not so slow, Mr. Bond. Assaulting the curves of a certain park north of downtown Dallas, I could find no fault with what PVO hath wrought. The CTS-V’s rear end stayed planted and controllable in all situations, and there were plenty of ’em. If the electronic nannies ever cut in, I couldn’t tell.
I repeat: the CTS-V is no Duke of Hazard SRT-8 tail-happy monster. The CTS-V carves the time-space continuum into finer and finer slices with genuine finesse. From razor sharp turn-in to graceful tenacious through the sweepers, the Cadillac CTS-V knows the fastest way from point A to point B is any damn way you please. It never fails to flatter the sporting driver.
The only chink in the CTS-V’s armor: slightly over-light steering. In this it only fails in comparison to . . . need I mention any names? No, I don’t. The Cadillac CTS-V is its own machine. It’s also the final realization of all those previously po-faced Cadillac claims of world class performance prowess. Whether that sort of automotive glory was a worthy goal for the Cadillac brand is an open question. But as a swan song, the 2009 Cadillac CTS-V forces the competition to play follow my lieder. Put another way, if GM has jumped the shark, the CTS-V represents the apogee of that lamentable leap.
[Look out for MS sports sedan comparo: Cadillac CTS-V vs. Mercedes C63 AMG vs. Audi RS4 vs. BMW M3 vs. Lexus IS-F.]