By on October 25, 2012

Upon graduation from Belfast Teacher’s Training College in the late ’60s, my father found himself summoned into the headmaster’s office. A heavy oaken drawer was opened and an object placed upon the green baize of the blotting pad: “Ye’ll be needin’ this.”

“This” was the strap, thick leather symbol of martial law in the classroom. Dad left it lying where it was, left behind the tobacco-scented claustrophobia of that small office, left behind the small-minded bigotry of that blood-soaked island, and built himself a new home in the wilds of British Columbia.

From my birth, this has been my template for the masculine ideal: resolve, courage, intelligence, compassion. In the latter stages of his career, my father – long an administrator – could walk in and quell any classroom by his mere physical presence. And so, I’ve endeavoured to emulate him. To refrain from roarin’ an’ shoutin’. To be calm, yet firm of purpose. To be a man.

Of course, five minutes behind the wheel of this thing and it’s, COME AT ME BRO!

Don’t get me wrong, I’m awfully fond of the CTS-V, particularly in wagon form. It’s just not particularly subtle.

While I won’t go into an involved discussion of the design (read Sajeev Mehta’s thorough critique here instead), it’s sort of a visual caps-lock. You get the sense that they’d have built the entire thing out of grille if they’d have been able to get away with it.

When I remarked that going from a black/black FR-S to the ‘V felt like Robin-to-Batman, Jack B dubbed it the “Batbro,” and I can’t do better than that. If your utility belt is filled with hair-gel capsules and cocaine, then this is the sled for you.

Moving into the interior with some difficulty, due to the fiddly ‘Vette-style door latches, one finds a surprisingly high seating arrangement and a colour-combination clearly put together by a Boston Bruins fan. The details are fairly nice though.

Not as nice as the interior of a high-trim ATS however – the upcoming CTS update should fix things up a little, but this design has been around a while. Also, and I’m kicking myself for not snapping a quick shot of it, there’s a three-inch piece of fake carbon-fibre trim to the right of the steering wheel, and it’s stuck on at about fifteen degrees off the correct angle. Shoddy.

This centre-stack will doubtless soon be supplanted by the CUE system and all its haptic-touch trickery. I sort of prefer the buttons, myself, but the retractable navigation screen wobbles quite a bit when you go over bumps.

Two really great things to note: first, the Alcantara-wrapped steering wheel is excellent, and great at wicking away moisture from sweaty palms. Second, they’ve put the traction-control toggle right on the steering wheel.

Which brings us around to the question of performance.

Yes, the CTS-V is a bit of an automotive tribal tattoo – Conan the Vulgarian. On the other hand, great googly-moogly does it back up those looks with volcanic power levels.

The supercharged 6.2L LSA is nearly imbecilic in its ferocity, howling and bellowing out those twin centre-mounted exhausts. Flick off the overworked traction control so that it can go off and have a therapy session, and the blown V8 scorches the tires and rams repeatedly into the rev-limiter with a noise like a T-Rex choking on Jeff Goldblum.

I know, I know. Mr. Hyperbole’s come to tea again.

I assure you, this car both looks like Brock Lesnar and punches things in the face like Brock Lesnar. It’s not an alternative to an M3, it’s an alternative to PCP.

While a six-speed manual is also on offer, the higher take rate will surely be this, the paddle-shifted six-speed automatic. It works quite well, although there’s so much power, you could probably hook the LSA up to a two-speed Powerglide and it’d still be fine.

Cadillac/GM’s magnetic-ride suspension is here too, and the widened track and lowered height of the coupe certainly makes this ‘V much nimbler than the last one I drove (a wagon). I don’t think you’d call it a sportscar though.

Leave the traction-control sensibly on, and the CTS-V is quite a nice street car, apart from the mail-slot visibility. The Brembos scrub speed just fine for street-applications, and the zero-delay power-delivery is endlessly entertaining. And expensive.

Here’s the thing though. This car might be perfectly capable of smacking around some of the normally-aspirated German stuff, but like Mr. Lesnar, it’s gotten a bit old for the ring. It’s not in MMA competitions any more, it’s more like a member of the WWE.

Herein lieth some redemption: even with the clock-cleaning Shelby out there and ridiculous twin-turbo Teutons on the rise, the ‘V is still a character-filled car. It’s entertaining and burly and something of a self-parody.

But look out – that guy’s got a folding metal chair!

Cadillac supplied the car and insurance. I supplied the fuel, more fool me.

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59 Comments on “Capsule Review: 2012 Cadillac CTS-V Coupe...”

  • avatar

    Looks like a Hot Wheels car. The designer is a 7 yo boy?

    • 0 avatar

      Yeah, I wish that Cadillac would dump the high belt line. Also black alloys make most cars look like they’ve been taken to the aftermarket parts shop by tasteless coke dealers….

      Great review though

      • 0 avatar

        Very well put tatracitroensaab. I also don’t like the holes on the fender (forgot what they’re called). Shame about the craftsmanship and the wobbly navi.

        However, I like it. Could even put up with the bad visibility (I think). If Cadillac does indeed come to Brazil, I’d hope this could sell more than the Escalade. Unfortunatley, won’t be so.

  • avatar

    In the parlance of the kids these days…


  • avatar

    I absolutely LOVE this car, but it doesn’t really do anything I can’t with my SRT8300cSupercharged.

    The CTS-V coupe looks vicious enough, but you could get the same looks out of the regular 300HP version. considering speed limits have been arbitrarily lowered to 40mph in many zones of my city, there’s almost no place you can drive this thing properly without getting a ticket.

    I made a video driving the CTS-V up to 100mph ( and was absolutely shocked how smooth the ride was – thanks to the magneride technology. Thing is, when it comes time to replace those rear Michellins, you’ll find yourself dropping $600 ever year and a half on just tires.

    That said, I’d rather have this car than a similar sized exotic. Even though the Lambo looks cooler, the CTS-V is far more practical and will actually last longer with less maintenance cost.

    After driving the tesla Model S, I just don’t think I could see myself spending long on a gas guzzler when I could just as easily have a good looking car that I can charge in my garage for less than $2 per week ( I only drive 10 miles a day on average so the base Model S would work well for me).

    • 0 avatar

      It has (or at least, can be ordered with) one thing your SRT-8 300C doesn’t have: A clutch pedal. For me, that makes all the difference.

    • 0 avatar

      I think that the V and non-V CTS are radically different cars. While I haven’t driven either a V or the SRT8, I do own a CTS and have driven the 300C and the 300C is so much more fun on the throttle that the non-V CTS. My CTS is a “sport wagon” and while I love quite a bit about the car, calling it “sport” is a stretch.

      I dream of the new LT1 being available in the next-gen CTS Wagon along with the magnetic-ride shocks (which I had in my last STS and are one of automotive engineering’s true marvels). Doesn’t seem likely however.

      As others have said, there’s too large a performance gap between the V and non-V CTS models. I think that’s a lost opportunity.

      And, yes, we are seriously considering the Tesla Model S as our next car. It has replaced the CTS-V as our dream car because of it’s non gas-guzzler nature and stunning performance.

      • 0 avatar

        I agree with all your points. The “run of the mill” CTS and the CTS-V might as well be two entirely different cars. They don’t share the same type of relationship that the 335i and M3 do.

        As for the Tesla Model S, if I was looking at a BMW, Cadillac, Audi etc in that price range the Model S is what would end up in my garage. Great looks, stunning performance, and no more visits to the gas station.

      • 0 avatar

        The 335 and M3 are also completely different animals. At least the E90 generation. The earlier ones I have driven, does seem to be closer related. At anything above 7/10ths, the E90 335 floats like an old Buick, while it’s M3 sibling remains on rails at almost any speed. Not to mention the different engine personalities….

    • 0 avatar

      I wish TTAC would let me post my Youtube video and write a review about the Model S Performance and Base (HINT HINT)


  • avatar

    My take on this car? I saw and sat in one at our auto show early this year. While I would never own one for several reasons, I was really impressed, to say the least. My wife was too.

    I will say this: That has to be the most beautiful engine cover I have ever seen.

    Now I have a question: What, exactly, are those engine covers for? I’d… you know… I’d like to actually SEE the engine on a car like this.

    Now a word of caution: GM, ALL your Epsilon ll platforms have that same general dashboard, especially that center stack. Please beware that Buick LaCrosse and Malibu have the same basic look. I STRONGLY suggest that a Caddy have REAL wood and/or REAL carbon fiber and REAL chrome/polished aluminum. Make it the PREMIUM car it’s supposed to be!

    • 0 avatar

      +1 for the REAL materials. Why does GM feel they have to cut these corners on their top model line? Maybe they have to do it to compensate for the Union wages.

      Otherwise…Big fan of the CTS!

      • 0 avatar

        wow. That’s a real non sequitur.

        Or did you really mean to insinuate that GM line workers are paid by depriving the forestry industry and killing millions of innocent polyesters?

      • 0 avatar

        @espressoBMW….Ten percent. As in ten percent of the total cost of labour to build a car.

        Source? Bertel Schmitt.

      • 0 avatar

        It was Old GM practice to cut costs by cheaping out on interior stuff. That has proven to be a stupid practice, and they say they aren’t doing it anymore, but it’ll take a while before that is reflected throughout the product line.

        It had and has nothing to do with UAW wages, which were just one small component of why pre-bankruptcy GM’s cost structure was way out of line with industry norms.

  • avatar

    From 300 horsepower V6 to 550 horsepower is a big leap without having something inbetween. But the price is right for the top of the line.

    I instead was looking for a hooligan car to twin-turbo charge so I got an 04 GTO. It’ll be 800 lbs lighter and make over 250 more horsepower than the V.

  • avatar

    I actually think the coupe is fantastic to look at, one of GM Design’s best shapes in decades — and I am manifestly not a hair-gel-and-cocaine kind of guy, more gin-and-Barbour-jacket — but the sedan is the one to own.

    (I love the fact that the wagon exists, but I couldn’t see owning one unless I had a big dog that liked riding around in back.)

    • 0 avatar

      I agree that the coupe is fantastic, I’m just glad to see a coupe again. That said, I’m not a hair gel and coke guy either but I do have enough dogs to justify the wagon. Which is first on my list.

      The Art & Science Cadillacs really speak to me. I don’t know if it’s nostalgia for the groundbreaking 1977 big GMs or that they remind me of my childhood favorite car, the 1967 Javelin and AMX. But they do catch my eye.

    • 0 avatar

      So, you bought the Barbour jacket “before” the accompanying dog? :)

      I’m with the author; the wagon’s the one. But only if it came with a decent sized fuel tank. Or, sacrilege, that new LT1 engine. Less power, but also less weight and complexity, and still plenty of power to keep the dog from falling asleep back there. Just keep the Magnaride and other V handling bits.

  • avatar
    Roberto Esponja

    I’m sure it drives fantastic, but take away the grille and the tail lights, and to me this car screams Acura. When will Cadillacs look like Cadillacs again?

    • 0 avatar

      To quote the review, “the ‘V is still a character-filled car. It’s entertaining and burly and something of a self-parody.”

      THAT is what a Cadillac is. “Real” Caddies were brash, bold, over-the-top in a way that is endearing. Unfortunately they couldn’t make Brougham D’Elegances forever.

      I think with the current-gen CTS, Cadillac at last figured out what a “real” Caddy is like in contemporary times, with the CTS-V coupe as the headliner.

      • 0 avatar

        The Ciel concept was the realest real Cadillac I’ve seen from modern GM yet. That’s a Cadillac that a guy transported forward from 1964 would instantly recognize as such. But the CTS-Vs do have that old Cadillac over-the-top arrogance going for them, which is a good thing.

    • 0 avatar


  • avatar

    Coke rule: if you had to mention it, you have never used it

  • avatar

    My question is, when is Jack going to drive one of these CTS-V cars?

  • avatar
    Ex Radio Operator

    My 2008 STS does have polished wood and brushed aluminum on the dash and center stack. Just about any car builder you care to mention has ripped off the design cues of the Art & Science Cadillacs.

  • avatar

    I’m so glad this car exists. The Brock Lesnar analogy is quite fitting. Even in the WWF/E, it didn’t look possible to defeat him. Though his F5 didn’t look as painful as a German suplex.

  • avatar

    I think it’s the best looking car GM makes (with the exception of the black rims) I can think of at least a dozen more car models that are more “douchey” than this (like say an Escalade for starters)

    I would take this over a Corvette any day, I wouldn’t be surprised if it cannibalized a lot of their sales.

    I’m amazed the bureaucrats allowed Government Motors to build this car.

  • avatar

    I’d rather have a Super Bee or C63.

    But it doesn’t matter because I don’t have that kind of cash anyway.

  • avatar

    Come at me, Bro…

    … but only from an angle where I can actually see you.

  • avatar

    Heh… the pop-up nav screen wobbles…

    “All what we got here is American made.
    It’s a little bit cheesy but it’s nicely displayed.”

    I loved the first three paragraphs, though. Awesome dad.

  • avatar

    Forget Brock Lesnar. This car screams RYBACK !!!

  • avatar

    You buy this beast you are not allowed to complain about gas prices.

  • avatar

    “left behind the small-minded bigotry of that blood-soaked island”

    Kindly explain what you mean by this offensive statement?

    • 0 avatar

      @oboylepr…..Well there you go. I to would like to hear the explanation of that offensive statement.

      Maybe we do have some common ground,Dude.

    • 0 avatar
      el scotto

      I think it was a reference to the violent history of Ireland and the prejudices against Catholics in Ireland’s history. Other than that, I’m staying out of it.

    • 0 avatar
      Brendan McAleer

      I’m not entirely sure how to respond to this. Surely, no-one would argue that the Northern Ireland of the late sixties and early seventies was *not* a place blighted by religious warfare.

      All I know is this: when my parents returned from Canada and bought a small farm, they made friends with their neighbours (as one does in rural areas) – specifically, I think they were going to split the cost of re-gravelling their driveways. Both the Protestant neighbours and my Catholic parents received death threats within weeks of contacting each other, and both were told not to associate with “the enemy”.

      If you are perhaps offended because you thought I was referring to the current state of the country, then my apologies, I suppose, but I carry dual-citizenship, and the strife both camps of zealots have put the ordinary people of that nation through makes my blood boil.

  • avatar

    Great review – you made me laugh out loud.

    I had a teacher that was more than capable of quieting an entire auditorium. We feared him, were in awe of him, and respected him – all at the same time, and yet he never once raised his hand or voice to us. His name was Mr. Shanks, right off the boat from Dublin.

    Sounds like your very own father.

  • avatar

    “…it’s sort of a visual caps-lock. You get the sense that they’d have built the entire thing out of grille if they’d have been able to get away with it.”

    Nailed. That has to be one of the best comments on a design ever.

  • avatar

    Shoddy interior… Sounds like the GM of old. And that was the thing, really. When you got in your rental car (from GM) and it was clear that the interior was put together sloppy, you had to wonder how much of the rest of the car was put together sloppy. You didn’t find that bit out until you became an owner.

  • avatar

    You know a test drive was good when it increases the writer’s Eloquence by several EQ points. Sounds like you had fun!

  • avatar

    As evidenced by my posts, I am not (anymore) a GM guy, but…..

    This car looks badass.

  • avatar

    I’m so tired of the vulgar lines of the CTS-V (exclusive of wagon, which is great).

    Please make a big, elegant RWD car based on the CIEL concept, and then shorten it 1.5 feet and make a big RWD coupe as a replacement for the El Dorado. Then bring it back in lower trim (and more swoopy) as the Riviera. You can make a Monte Carlo too, but I bet nobody would buy it.

    Then, go over to AUS and get the Holden Maloo thing and bring back the El Camino.

    -end rant-

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