By on August 10, 2010

As I crest Monticello Motor Club’s Turn 17, I am speaking directly to you, the TTAC reader, through the magic of a complete video, data, and audio recording system installed in my six-speed manual CTS-V Coupe.

“I have an idea,” I say, as I hold the throttle pinned to the stop way past the braking markers, over the hill, down the back of the left-hander, the speedometer swinging well into the triple digits, tach reaching to redline. “I think… this section can be taken flat.”

Flat, as in flat-out, as in without the mild braking before Turn 17 recommended by the instructors at Monticello and practiced by all reasonable individuals. And, indeed, I make it over the crest pointed in nearly the right direction… but any experienced racer knows that traction on the back of a hill is never as good as traction on the front of the hill. In under a second I’ve reached the absolute maximum slip angle of the tires. I haven’t done it. I’ve overstepped my limits, and the limits of the car. To turn more is futile and perhaps deadly, since I am pointed at the grass and traveling at over one hundred miles per hour. If I have any steering dialed-in to the car when I touch that rough surface, I can cartwheel end over end in the fashion of Antonio Pizzonia in a Jag S-Type. Have to exit the track straight. What happens now?

If I hadn’t been a fan of the CTS-V Coupe before I exited the track at double Jimmy Carter’s favorite highway speed limit — and I wasn’t quite convinced at that point, honestly — I became one the moment I hit the rough ground. With three solid “THUMPS” I bounced along the grass. A 911 would have fought me; a lesser sedan might have whipped the steering wheel to and fro, tearing my hands away and with it my only control of the situation. The CTS-V, by contrast, was rock-solid and provided honest feedback, allowing me to guide the car in just the right direction as gently as possible.

In under sixty feet I was back on the track, still using “maintenance throttle”, and snagging a heel-and-toe double-downshift into the second-gear Turn 18. It maybe cost me a second and a half, and as the big supercharged mill catapulted me down the next straight, I heard the voice of a sweet female angel, asking me if I was okay. Oops. That’s no angel. That’s OnStar. The violence of my unplanned departure had triggered the V’s inertia sensors; it had also scrambled the video recorder, much to my dismay since I had remained rather McQueenishly mellow throughout the entire incident.

Okay. You guys all expected me to stir up some trouble at this event, right? Done. Let’s talk about the car, starting with the important stuff. Not everyone with whom I spoke was in complete agreement with me, but I believe the V Coupe is far easier to push on-track than its sedan counterpart. Here’s why. Although the Coupe shares a wheelbase with the sedan, it has a wider rear track and wider rear wheels. The net effect is more traction at the rear. This reduces wheelspin on exits, which in turn prevents overheating of the rather delicate street Michelins. Before you know it, you have a car that slides at the front during one’s third lap on-track, instead of one that slides at the rear. This, ironically, was my undoing; a little bit of hot-tire oversteer would have permitted me to nip through the right-hand sweep between 17 and 18, but the more stable Coupe simply gave up steering. That’s the safer way, and it’s why I feel many drivers will be quicker in the Coupe than in the sedan.

While the CTS Coupe’s appearance is tailor-made to generate controversy, it’s also a very “honest” coupe. Nearly every panel is different. The doors open electrically, as with a Corvette. I disagree with this; I think a solid handle would impart a quality feel, which is just as important as aesthetics. The roof is lower and the windshield is “faster”. The net effect for me is negative; I can’t get comfortable in the car with a helmet on. Give me the sedan, or better yet, the wagon. Those of you who are neither 6’2″ nor in the habit of wearing a top-vent Impact! helmet won’t mind.

This automobile is available with a six-speed manual transmission. Please, do us all a favor and purchase it with that transmission. While the automatic may be faster around the ‘Ring, in the real world it’s easily confused and on a track of less epic proportions it requires constant attention from the steering-wheel-mounted control buttons. You want the stick-shift, unless you live in Los Angeles or absolutely demand the ability to left-foot-brake at all times. In a rather bold and enthusiast-oriented move, Cadillac offers a black-wheel package that comes with yellow brake calipers. The wheels won’t show the brake dust, but the calipers sure as hell will. I’d go ahead and get the option anyway. Kudos to Cadillac, by the way, for doing what BMW won’t in the M3, namely, fit a decent set of brakes to the car.

The rest of the car is standard CTS-V: controversial interior made more so by the addition of the (recommended) Recaro buckets, center stack that has been replicated everywhere from LaCross to la Cruze, not-quite-convincing stitched-leather dash. I drove a 3.6 direct-injection V6 automatic on the way home from Monticello and in many ways preferred it to the V. If you want an automatic, the six is a much better dance partner and it’s far cheaper.

Which brings us to price. The Coupe is priced heads-up with the sedan at $62,990 plus a mandatory gas-guzzler charge. It really has no competition in the marketplace, so if you want one, feel free to take the plunge. I’d buy the wagon and pay the 200-pound weight penalty, since the Coupe is tight for me.

After the nice people at Cadillac pulled the grass out of my Coupe’s lower intake, they sucked up their courage and sent me back out. Naturally, I hauled ass straight to Turn 17… but a tiny lift of the throttle put weight on the tires and let me slide down the hill just the way Bob Lutz intended. If this were a print rag, I’d finish up by saying, “Time to fly the Coupe.”


I have video and photos coming, so check back tomorrow!

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42 Comments on “Review: 2011 Cadillac CTS-V Coupe (Video, More Photos To Come)...”

  • avatar

    I want one!

    • 0 avatar

      Testing the CTS-V was probably the most fun I had this summer.

      Power delivery is EFFORTLESS.
      Steering is ultra sharp.
      The Magneride shocks make the road feel unnaturaly smooth and slightly disconnects you from the road, but, in speeds between 80 – 110 this car is ultra calm.

      got the video right here:

      AS FOR THE REVIEW… I really wish TTAC would #1 assign a star rating to a car each and every review and #2 give a breakdown of included equipment and optional.

  • avatar

    This car makes the Europeans look like taxis!

  • avatar

    I checked out one of these in person. If you are among the few that have reservations about the styling in photos you might want to behold it in the flesh, it is an epic looking car. I thought the wagon would be my favorite CTS variant, but after poking around both in person the coupe is far and away my favorite. I want one!

    • 0 avatar

      I agree. I checked out the Coupe during on of Cadillac’s Chef Challenges in West Palm Beach a few months ago and it’s a stunning piece to say the least..much better than the photos would suggest. For my money though, I’d take the Wagon. Something about a 5 door that hauls ass appeals to me.

  • avatar

    Can it be had in yellow color? I don’t like silver or gray.

  • avatar

    That’s all fine and good, Jack- but let’s talk about what really matters. How fast do you figure The Stig could get that thing around the Top Gear track?

    Come on- you knew that was coming, right? But seriously- very entertaining and well written review. I enjoyed it.

    • 0 avatar
      Domestic Hearse

      And now, it’s time to turn the CTS-V Coupe over to TTAC’s tame racing driver…

      Some say…that every time he gets in a passenger car, he tries to re-create a driving situation he encountered while driving his Phaeton on a Florida interstate. And that he does this while playing Jumping Jack Flash on the guitar perched upon his knee.

      All we know is, he’s called The Jack.

    • 0 avatar

      DH that is priceless!

  • avatar

    Nice write-up; makes me feel like I was in the car with you.

    But at 6’7″ and with a more pedestrian budget, I’ll be observing from the outside.

    • 0 avatar
      Christy Garwood

      gslippy, two guys I met from the Lordstown plant where the Chevrolet Cruze is built, drove it from Ohio to SE Michigan and they were both 6’7″. They said it was comfortable to drive.
      You might want to check one out when you can since Jack here says the center stack is about the same as the CTS-V Coupe. The model with the manual tranny will be out late this year.

  • avatar

    I am a big fan of the V’s. I really don’t understand GM pricing though. Perhaps I wasn’t meant to. It seems to me that either the Caddys should have some classy, bespoke touches (gold badges maybe? I kid because I love.) or the ‘Vette should be a little cheaper than it is.

  • avatar

    Interesting review, Jack. Now we know it mows grass. But does it blend?

    Still can’t get my head around the styling, but it certainly looks unique.

  • avatar

    While the CTS was not bad at all, I personally find the coupe’s styling attractive. Really.

    The build quality is still, sadly, GM appropriate – lousy panel fits, obviously cheap materials, and screwed together with no pride. But damn, it is a pretty 10 footer. Especially for a domestic.

    I did enjoy the drive of the V, and were it not priced like a slightly used AMG Benz, I’d almost consider it.

    When they hit 10K on the auction block, I just might pick one up.

    • 0 avatar

      Oh, I don’t know… At least it doesn’t have Porsche’s execrable intermediate shaft problems or theoretical rear main seal. And the interior quality exceeds that in the Boxster / Cayman pretenders.

    • 0 avatar


      The Porsche flat-6 has always had, umm, serious flaws.

      I have never found it to be a true Porsche – ergo, check my rants favouring the extermination of the 911 and anything to do with it…

  • avatar

    My kid (early-20s) cousin got hisself some goldurn snazzy job at onna them thar internet marketing companies, and is about to rent lease one of these. Apparently he needs a daily driver since the jumped-on BMW and the Harley aren’t practical.

    Ah, to be young…

    • 0 avatar

      I’m afraid that statement is incomplete, it’s:

      Ah, to be young…and rich.

      I’m young, but not rich. My life does not include any of the things you mentioned. It includes a growing university loan and a 5 year old econobox.

  • avatar

    Is this the Caddy that zigs?

  • avatar

    Can I pick one of these up for $15k or so in 6-7 years?

    • 0 avatar

      Sounds about right, though this will depend a little on how reliable the cars prove to be.

      We’ll have updated stats for the regular CTS next week.

    • 0 avatar

      Only if you pay retail at a buy-here-pay-here.

      Used Caddys are ghetto. Have been since the 70s and nothing has changed.

      In 6-7 years if you pay more than 10K for the most perfect of examples, you’ve been chumped.

  • avatar
    Cole Trickle

    Another excellent review jb. I have begun negotiations with my wife for the wagon in about 3 years when it is time to retire our G35. Not sure the gas guzzler tax will help my case. Why can’t somebody make a 560hp wagon that gets like 30mpg city?

  • avatar

    Nice review. Can’t wait for the video! There are so many people who only browse sites like this for video reviews that I’d guess (once there’s a collection of them at least) that TTAC will see an increase in page views and car shopping relevance as a result.

    The Smoking Tire might not be the best example, as their whole format is video centric, but their recent Fit/Fiesta/GTI/Speed3 review series has gained them a number of new followers that I personally know, none of them hard-core car geeks. TTAC should have a piece of that pie.

  • avatar

    Don’t blame the 55mph speed limit thing on Carter, that was that radical liberal Nixon who did that, in 1974.

  • avatar

    It’s funny, and maybe it’s just me, but with these car reviews on coupes, especially the EXPENSIVE coupes, why is it that there are no new pillarless hardtops built (Mercedes and BMW excepted)? At least they could make the rear windows roll down. This has always been a pet peeve of mine and I have never gotten an answer or a comment or read an editorial on the subject from any of the so-called “experts”. With the amount of money one must spend for any vehicle these days, in spite of the prevalence of A/C, I enjoy outside air as much as possible, and until I can open the rear side windows, I’ll never buy a coupe. I could care less about how much horsepower cars have for the simple fact of everyday driving and the realities of commuting in the real world. The Caddie is a beautiful car just the same!

  • avatar

    I was not a fan of ther origami look initially, but this car looks badass. Just goes to show that American car companies can build a great machine when they put their minds to it. If you can get it without runflats and it has a dipstick this might be my next ride. Cadillac luxury with Corvette power seems to be an unbeatable combination.

  • avatar

    Woooooooooooooooooooooo Jack! Nice way to give the Caddy press people heart attacks! The only way this review could have been better is if you had wrangled a date with the OnStar lady when she called in to check on you.

  • avatar

    Supposedly the steering has been improved for the coupe. Notice a difference compared to the sedan?

    Surprised by the statement that the 3.6 was in ways preferable. Details?

  • avatar

    This car is such a steal for the money….and they are possibly the best looking, highest quality cars out of the Big 3 today.

    This is how a PROPER luxury brand does business…

  • avatar

    Wow, quite a contrast to the Caddy featured in the latest Curbside Classic! They’ve come a long way, hopefully not too late.

  • avatar

    Ugly cars don´t sell, especially ugly coupés.
    Why all the chicken wire in the front?
    Doesn´t stand a chance against Audi RS5, BMW M3 Coupé or Mercedes E-series Coupé
    Also, the european price is insane:
    Caddy cts-v € 73 000
    BMW M3 Coupé € 62 000
    Jaguar XKR € 67 000
    Audi RS5 € 67 000
    MB E 500 Coupé € 61 000

    • 0 avatar

      I agree with you on the pricing, that seems silly. Although, it is amazing how much of a value non-North Americans put on North American muscle.

      As for the design, the Caddy takes a totally different tack to design. It probably wouldn’t appeal some older folks (much in the same way that everyone 40 and up hates the Flex, I know this site will have exceptions to both), but it appeals to the younger wealthy crowd. You know, the ones that can actually have coupes.

  • avatar

    I wonder how much power Ford can get out of the EcoBoost six.

    Even though Cadillac isn’t out of the woods, the fact that GM can come out with coupe and wagon variants of its bread and butter luxury sedan, plus credible high performance versions of all three body styles, shows just how far behind Lincoln is.

    We haven’t heard a peep out of Dearborn about Lincoln coupes (the MKR concept never got greenlighted) nor about higher performance versions to compete with Caddy’s V series cars.

    Before Lincoln can compete with Mercedes, BMW, Audi, Lexus, Infiniti and Acura (did I forget someone?) it has to be able to compete with Cadillac and Lincoln really has nothing like th CTS in any of its forms.

    Ford used to sell two-door Lincolns. The Marks were very successful, particularly the Mark IV. Maybe they can make a coupe version of the MKS, put in a juiced EcoBoost, and call it the MK2, pronounced Mark 2.

    There was a time when hot rod Lincolns set the pace for Cadillacs. Now, though the MKS isn’t slow (my sister and brother in law have one and they say it’s the fastest Lincoln they’ve owned), the V series Cadillacs will leave the MKS in the dust.

  • avatar

    The Coupe is priced heads-up with the sedan at $62,990 plus a mandatory gas-guzzler charge.

    Has GM changed policy by pricing in the gas-guzzler charge as a tax???

  • avatar
    Christy Garwood

    Jack Baruth, thanks for an entertaining review of the Cadillac CTS-V Coupe. I am glad you enjoyed your ride!

  • avatar

    Get real.

    It’s still a GM vehicle.

    As such, take 30% off the sticker to start negotiations.

    Unless you are an idiot.

  • avatar

    I guess I will have to be the one to say I was not impressed with my test drive. The CTSV has a very dissapointing ride, compared to its German counterparts. Its ride was no better than the Corvettes, had just as few options, and is severely unpolished, compared to the Germans. The seats were terrible, with no support, unless you get the Recaro seats. The car bucked as you let off the gas, much like a car from the 70’s muscle scene would. I guess most would not notice if they never drove a 5 series, A6, E class, or a Jaguar on a regular basis. Ignorance is bliss, as they say, but for a vehicle calling itself a Cadillac, its ride was anything but.

    I prefer the ride of the regular CTS, even it does not handle as well. If they only would provide the LS3 in the CTS. That would be my idea of a perfect compromise.

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