Vellum Venom: 2012 Cadillac CTS-V Coupe

Sajeev Mehta
by Sajeev Mehta
vellum venom 2012 cadillac cts v coupe

A few years after I left Detroit, doing my best to forget my heart-wrenching decision to give up on car design, a similarly disheartened automaker named Saturn made something called an Ion. I saw it at the Houston Auto Show circa 2002. Wounds from Detroit still fresh on my mind, I had absolutely no problem with the Saturn Ion shown behind a velvet rope. I honestly thought it was a design study commissioned by Playskool, not a production ready vehicle from General Motors.

I mean, it was that awful. So imagine my surprise when the General’s peeps come up with something nearly as ugly…and this time it’s a Cadillac.

But this ain’t no Saturn Ion. It’s better in many ways and even more of a shameful waste of sheet metal in others. That said, the nose is pretty cool if you avoid the detailing. Well, the grille is quite handsome, even if I wish the badge was about 30% smaller.

Do badges really need to dominate a design? This part of the CTS-V Coupe does quite well by itself. Nobody’s gonna mistake it for a Honda, so chill out already!

The cyborg headlights are cool enough to let me fixate on other horrible elements on this form, namely the dumpy afterthought headlight washers. I expected flush mount/pop up cleaners for a car wearing the Cadillac name. Because this brand used to represent the best of the best, not a cheaper alternative to an uber-zoot German machine. Did someone benchmark a BMW M-series outside of the Nurburgring?

I love power-dome hoods, except when I don’t. This is a Caddy! Make that bulge start at the grille and flare out from there! The ghosts of a million pimp-daddy DeVilles demands it! This looks like a cheap afterthought!

The Terminator was a great movie. So was the sequel. But whatever the hell this is, it belongs in a movie, not on a Caddy. Plus, the choice of black plastic makes it look like an extra in a low-budget B-movie. Totally not Caddy worthy.

The details do blend a little better from a few feet away. But still, Cadillac is trying too hard to shed an image that was actually quite appealing. This is the Pontiac Grand Prix of luxury performance coupes. Believe it or not, I meant that as a compliment. If Pontiac still existed.

This is one of the worst fender-to-A-pillar-to-door parties ever. While I adore the strong edge from the fender’s vent to the beginning of the A-pillar, the muscular wedge that goes to the door is too big…or the vent is too small. Not to mention the character line from the hood to the bottom of the A-pillar feels like an afterthought.

M.C. Escher, eat your heart out.

I despised this badge when it first hit the scene. That awful color palette in jarring, rhombus-like containers isn’t befitting of a top dollar, world-beating, Grand Tourer. I admit it has aged well, so maybe branding conquers all.

Deplorable fitment aside, the sheer number of parts making this door handle is depressing. The almost square thing above the door release is the biggest offender. It shouldn’t exist: why not make it integral to the rest of the quarter panel’s sheet metal? Inexcusable for a Cadillac and just un-frickin-believable in general.

But at least the quarter window is mighty faaaast! The CTS-V coupe is certainly a…coupe!

Or is it a hatchback? I wonder if the late-70s Buick Century Aero Coupe was ever considered during the CTS coupe’s initial renderings. Nah, that Buick was never this contrived by design. Not so with the Caddy, it’s obviously suffering from ADHD.

Details aside, this is pure BUFFALO BUTT. And that’s never pretty.

This is what happens when an AMC AMX gets beaten by Pablo Picasso’s Ugly Stick.

Marinate on that.

Let’s be clear, Cubism is a wonderful thing. But this monstrosity of a machine is not. If your tail light extends to the rear glass, you made a crime against the natural order of luxury-performance vehicles. Epic fail.

The sheer volume of non-functional red CHMSL plastic shown makes me choke on my morning coffee. Combine it with the fact that this part will turn chalky after a few years of buffing and oxidation, and you have a shameful interpretation of Cadillac style. Don’t believe me? Find a 1999 Mustang that’s had a less-than-charmed life and tell me how that CHMSL looks.

I will admit this is a seriously cool angle. But I only like the decklid when you crop out the majority of bulk, or every line (cough, taillights) that fights the pointy beak presented here.

Then again, is a pointy posterior a good thing? Maybe someone in Detroit has a thing for the Porsche 928 in reverse.

The central exhausts are wicked cool, the round forms play well with the strong centralized character line. Too bad the CTS-V Coupe’s ass is too tall and massive, you must squat down to actually appreciate this.

More shameful cheapness here. Note to Cadillac: if you want an invite to AMG and M’s house parties, don’t break the ice with a Tupperware party at your crib. You’ll get the Corvette, muscle car and LSX-FTW loyalists instead. Which isn’t a bad thing…as those peeps do buy cars.

Their money is still green!

On to some abhorrent detailing: the character line from the quarter window needs more definition, and more depth. This gives the illusion that the CTS-V isn’t as tall as a CUV, and has the fender flares of a car worthy of such impressive underpinnings. Instead we get bulk and flab. How I miss the days of fuselage inspired Cadillac quarter panels!

Next abhorrent detail: if you have to smear a round gas cap over an obscure fender slope, your design needs a re-think. Or maybe I need some slimy, sloppy eggs to go with the coffee I recently choked on.

I know, I know…I already complained about the door handle. But look at how the B-pillar mates with the rest of the design! Can someone trim the door to match this absolutely crucial hard point on the body? How much is this car again?

Long live the Ghost of the Saturn Ion. On to you, Best and Brightest.

Sajeev Mehta
Sajeev Mehta

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  • Tankinbeans Tankinbeans on May 11, 2012

    I knew I hated that car's looks, mechanicals I have no comment on, and now I know why. It's very much appreciated to know why certain things don't seem to work.

  • Replica Replica on May 11, 2012

    I actually like how "Deal with it" Caddy styling is lately. The basic lines of their cars are fantastic. I like the bold, chunky lines. It's unfortunate they can't get those details worked out. The pile of seams where the door handle meets the door, rear quarter, and window looks like a failed game of Tetris. The huge curvy dead space between the rear wheel wells and rear taillights is odd. With your suggested correction of the taillights, maybe that can be fixed. At any rate, I'm happy this polarizing style exists.

  • Spamvw Three on the tree, even Generation X would have a hard time stealing one of those.
  • ToolGuy This trend of cyan wheels needs to end NOW.
  • Kwik_Shift Interesting nugget(s) of EV follies.
  • SaulTigh I've said it before and I'll say it again...if you really cared about the environment you'd be encouraging everyone to drive a standard hybrid. Mature and reliable technology that uses less resources yet can still be conveniently driven cross country and use existing infrastructure.These young people have no concept of how far we've come. Cars were dirty, stinking things when I was a kid. They've never been cleaner. You hardly ever see a car smoking out the tail pipe or smell it running rich these days, even the most clapped out 20 year old POS. Hybrids are even cleaner.
  • Inside Looking Out Just put ICE there. Real thing is always better that simulation.