By on June 19, 2010

Wuchtig. I’m sitting, panting, trying to catch my breath on the side of a tiny two-lane road running through the vineyards of California’s Napa Valley. I’m in an American car. I haven’t spoken German regularly since I was 18. Adrenalin has chased everything resembling a coherent thought from my mind. And yet, strangely, the only thing left banging around my speed-addled skull is a single German adjective for which the English language has no translation: wuchtig.

From the safety of my desk back in Oregon, a German-English dictionary offers a parade of possible English meanings for this word, that 556 horsepower has left ringing in my ears. Weight, pressure, force, impetus, vigor, power, and kinetic energy all make the list. But what about anger? Rage? Impatience? Wuchtig is how daddy shouts when he comes home drunk and angry; it’s the roar of a sweaty millionaire celebrating his dominance in an NFL endzone.

It’s also the sound that 6.2 liters of supercharged V8 make when they get just out of earshot of their rightful owner.

This particular “V” belongs to one of Cadillac’s PR guys, who, having heard that I’d never set ass in the infamous sedan, handed me a key fob. No “be careful” preceded this unexpected gift, no waivers were signed, no next-of-kin informed. Just a friendly “why are you not driving yet?” as I collected my thoughts before approaching the large, dark presence lurking in the parking lot.

But whatever confidence I’d gained by psyching myself up, soon melted in the evil presence of this brute. Walk up, and the smell of vaporized rubber tickles the nose and jangles the nerves, like the smell of blood on the breath of a large predator. And after two days of riding and driving in Cadillac’s standard seats, the V grabs your body in the crushing embrace of something living and powerful. Only after the engine comes to life, and I begin to dawdle out of the parking lot does the V become just another Cadillac, softly woofling towards the open road. But that impression only lasts until I reach the first stop sign, wait for the briefest interruption in traffic, and leap out onto the highway.

With a gusty, hard-edged snarl, the V launches onto an unfortunately crowded two-lane highway. California’s wine country may be a favorite launch site for luxury cars, but not because it’s an easy place to find an open road. Moving at barely-legal speeds, the V feels nailed to the road; firm, flat and communicative compared to its (relatively) pedestrian brand-mates. But unsupervised press cars aren’t about barely anything. At the first unmarked turnoff, I leave the traffic behind and pull onto a narrow country road. After a few flat (but hardly flat-out) corners, the road suddenly straightens. Almost involuntarily, my right foot flattens the pedal.

When was the last time you shouted? Not to a friend across a crowded bar, or even at an athlete on television… I mean really shouted. I’m talking about opening your throat, and expelling every accumulated frustration, sorrow, anger, and joy until your vocal cords ooze wuchtig red vino. The kind of roaring bellow that leaves you shaking, giddy, drunk off a heady cocktail of emotion, adrenaline, testosterone and fear of a power you didn’t even know you had. Add some supercharger whine, and you’re starting to get an idea of what happens when you pin a CTS-V’s go-pedal to the floor. The crazy part: it isn’t even all that loud.

What happens next is almost irrelevant. It’s certainly difficult to describe without jeopardizing the unexpected goodwill shown by Cadillac’s PR team. Even as broad a term as “Autobahn speed” takes on a sinister aspect when describing activities undertaken on a shoulderless, uneven, pot-holed road used mainly by worktrucks filled with migrant laborers. Especially when you realize that pulling back on the wheel won’t send this low-flying aircraft soaring towards the clouds. The speed was simply breathless, relentless, slobbering… quite like the prose you’re reading here, in fact.

By the time I get back to the hotel, the rest of the journalists had already left. The PR team sat on the gracious terrace where I had left them, soaking up the California sun. I hand over the key fob, my brain still bouncing off its redline limiter. “Well…?” someone prompts me. “Wuchtig,” I answer. Nothing else comes to mind.

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25 Comments on “Capsule Review: 2010 Cadillac CTS-V...”

  • avatar

    Great article!

  • avatar

    And Tal Bronfer is crowned “Grand Wizard Of TTAC ESP” – or did he violate amateur status?

    I’d say, the best translation would be “beamy” ….


  • avatar

    The wife’s boss has one of these. 1st one I’d seen. Lot of CTS around, but these, not so much. Didn’t mention to him I noticed his ride. Figured he’d want to show me how fast it was, not throw me the fob.

  • avatar

    Eddie, you’re such a good writer, feel like I was in the car with you. thx.

  • avatar

    Was the car a stick or automatic? Did it make any difference which it was?

  • avatar

    I already wanted one of these in a bad way. After reading this, I GOTTA HAVE ONE!

  • avatar

    This story kinda reminds me of this video:

  • avatar

    Interesting review Ed, but you appear to have left out some of the more relevant elements of a proper review. Specifically, you have omitted reference to:

    – the quantity of cupholders and their capabilities vis-a-vis the “Big Gulp” test
    – whether or not the rear seat folds down, and the whether a pass-through for skis exists
    – the size of the passenger side vanity mirror, and how well lighted the mirror is. Does the light quality vary with ambient conditions?
    – whether the speakers are lit by lights, the color of which can be adjusted according to driver preference and whether they blink with the beat of the music chosen
    – finally, no mention whatsoever of how well integrated the navigation system is with the owner’s iPad or MP3 player

    Where are your priorities, man?

  • avatar

    This is an awesome car, but the LS7 and M156 both sound better than the LSA.

  • avatar

    The shout is what sold me.. I’ve done that, it was more Primal scream than shout though.
    You sent chills up my spine describing the V, now if I could only buy something like that on an Impala budget..

    • 0 avatar

      Do the dealers let the unwashed masses test drive these? Because now I want to!

    • 0 avatar

      mrcrispy –

      It probably depends on the dealer. At mine pretty much anyone can drive a Taurus SHO (assuming they are over 18 and at least give a few signs that they might be a buyer) but no one gets to drive a Shelby GT500 or SVT Raptor unless the agree to purchase terms and put down a deposit first. All in all, it’s fair, the people who are serious buyers don’t have a problem with it, as they don’t want test drive miles on their limited edition ride before they buy it, so they realize why we have to keep joyriders out.

      I was a bit offended when I tried to test drive a Hummer H1 shortly after becoming a legal adult and was turned away, but in retrospect I can appreciate the position, there was no way I could have bought one, and I had never driven anything bigger than a Wrangler so I could have very well hit something on the drive.

    • 0 avatar

      When I purchase cars from dealers, they always want a valid license at least, and usually proof that I have valid insurance. I once joked that I would like to drive a bright yellow Charger R/T to a salesman, but figured I would not be allowed to unless I were serious on purchasing it. He agreed, and said the owner would allow him (the salesman) to drive it for me if I wanted to check it out. I declined, because that was not what I was there to purchase.

  • avatar

    What´s up with all the steelnet?
    A face that only a mother could love.

    It´s fast but that´s it.
    The resale value is….the world “peanuts” comes to mind.

    • 0 avatar

      All the better for us unwashed masses to take advantage of!

    • 0 avatar

      Canadian Auto Trader lists over 2000 used Mercedes for sale. A two year old goes for half of its original cost. Because of reliability issues,and wicked repair costs I wouldn’t touch one with a ten foot pole.

      In fairness a 2 year old CTS is also down fifty pecent. 50% of 35K vs 50% of 48K I’ll take the Caddy.

    • 0 avatar

      Mikey, Your theory is right but the CTS-V is no $35,000 car.. I am pretty sure it is close to $60,000. And yes, 2 year old luxury cars are great values… Especially 2 Year lease returns by car companies that offer free maintenance included.

  • avatar

    “I haven’t spoken German regularly since I was 18.”

    I know the feeling, I haven’t since I was around 10.

    Wuchtig auf Deutsch = Woohoo in English

    Richtig, ja?

  • avatar

    See. I said it’d be epic. Aren’t you glad I asked for the -V for you?

  • avatar

    Google translate deems “wuchtig” as:

    1. solid
    2. massive
    3. bulky
    4. powerful
    5. shattering

    At any rate, sounds like the perfect adjective for a CTS-V!

  • avatar

    Ed, I know exactly what you mean, i never thought i could be so stricken by a Cadillac Sedan. Best Writing I have read in a while…

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