By on June 3, 2019

We, like everyone else, bemoaned Cadillac’s new V-Series models for seeming underpowered. And yet the company now suggests that putting a lid on power was part of the plan all along. Apparently, GM claims, shoppers were being scared off by the CTS-V’s big numbers.

“There was, frankly, some people who were intimidated by the cars,” GM President Mark Reuss elaborated last week, according to Automotive News. “When we did a [V-Series], they were hammers … There’s some intimidation there.”

While undoubtedly true of some customers, is Cadillac certain that’s the message they want to impart? No matter how you slice this cadaver, the fact remains that the brand is still delivering two V-Series entrants that fail to impress on paper the way their predecessors did. We’ll happily admit that horsepower isn’t everything, but you cannot lead with how the CT4-V’s improved efficiency and lighter curb weight will make it a better car than the ATS-V its replaces when all anyone can notice is a glaring horsepower disparity. 

The outgoing, 6.2-liter V8-powered CTS-V currently produces 640 hp. Meanwhile, the CT5-V that replaces it utilizes a twin-turbo 3.0-liter V6 that’s estimated to crank out 355 hp and 400 pound-feet of torque. The CT4-V’s 320 hp and 369 pound-feet get it a little closer to the ATS-V, but there’s still over 100 hp separating the two.

We got into this yesterday, so we’ll not rehash everything, but Cadillac’s current solution involves vague promises of subsequent V-Series models aimed directly at enthusiasts. While not a terrible idea, there’s nothing to it presently. Cadillac probably could have led with the big guns, allowing the current CT4 and CT5 V-Series variants to come in as affordable alternatives to the new car everyone envies. But it didn’t. As things stand, no details exist on the more hardcore models — save for General Motors’ promise that they will someday exist.

Of course, had GM expended its initial energy on overpowered, low-volume vehicles, it would miss out on the brand appeal it’s currently trying to expand within a floundering segment (sedans).

From Automotive News:

V-Series customers, GM executives said, are the best advocates for Cadillac, and expanding that base will help the brand as it continues to launch a new or redesigned product roughly every six months through 2021. The CT5 is scheduled to arrive this fall, followed by the CT4 in early 2020, with the V-Series versions slated to reach dealerships shortly after the standard versions in both cases.

“Performance isn’t going to go out of style and these sedans are really attacking a different play than what other people have,” Reuss said. “I still think there’s a lot of room for sedans here.”

Like most of Cadillac’s efforts over the past fifteen years, the current strategy of moving performance-branded models downmarket is reminiscent of its German rivals. While this methodology served the brand exceptionally well in China, the same cannot be said for the United States. (This could have more to do with the brand being late to the crossover party than anything else.)

Still, we — and many others — were under the impression that V-Series cars are supposed to be tributes to American excess, singularly fixated on giving the customer as much power as Cadillac’s luxury mindset will allow.

gm

Saying GM had to soften them because customers were afraid of their raw power feels like a cop-out and doesn’t raise confidence in the high-output models that are supposedly in development. Cadillac is chasing volume, not glory, and seems endlessly preoccupied with China. If only things were a little more balanced.

Hopefully, the new cars deliver in terms of overall performance and are above reproach in terms of luxury per dollar. All we can say now is that they aren’t terrible to look at, seem to provide a better interface with drivers than older models, and should offer more of the technologies well-heeled shoppers are interested in — especially if they happen to live in China.

[Images: General Motors]

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54 Comments on “Cadillac’s V-Series Was Apparently Too Powerful for the Mainstream...”


  • avatar

    I agree with Mr Reuss. I had an STS-V and it was ridiculously overpowered.

  • avatar
    ajla

    “There was, frankly, some people who were intimidated by the cars”

    Isn’t that why you offer other trim variants?

    This whole episode just sounds like a bunch of weak Mazda-tier excuses for not building a faster car out of the box.

    • 0 avatar
      mike978

      The CX-5 is the fastest mainstream compact SUV. I will wait for you to complain about the weak sauce Forester and Crosstrek.
      The Mazda 3 has the most horsepower of any non sports trim compact car.

      • 0 avatar
        sportyaccordy

        “The Mazda 3 has the most horsepower of any non sports trim compact car.”

        This reads like marketing copy thoroughly filtered by lawyers. A regular Civic turbo will wipe the floor with said Mazda 3, and of course the 3 gets cross shopped with said sport trims, considering how much of a driver’s choice it’s purported to be.

  • avatar
    Master Baiter

    “There’s some intimidation there.”

    Considering the average Caddy buyer is probably north of 60 years old, I could totally see that.

    • 0 avatar
      lstanley

      Regardless, I’d like to meet the grandpa in my area who drives the very intriguing 2014 XTS Vsport.

      Random internet sleuthing says around 1500 2014 XTS Vsports were sold and I want to hear the story behind purchasing this weird $70k+ rocket ship new off the lot.

    • 0 avatar
      Rocket

      That particularly demographic isn’t looking for anything wearing a V badge. Besides, one key goal of the V models is to attract younger buyers.

  • avatar
    bumpy ii

    These are just replacements for the old V-sport. For whatever reason, someone decided that -V proper had to be more attainable, so it got bumped down the trim ladder, and some sort of “V plus” will take its place at the top.

  • avatar
    SPPPP

    The scary part is that I am starting to get excited for the CT5-V. I am wondering if the abandoned Lucerne and Impala buyers will find a home here? It’s starting to look like the right recipe for a modern semi-sporty sedan.

    The interior looks much better than the previous ATS or CTS. It’s roomier than the cramped ATS. The exterior looks sharp in my eyes, which beats the previous CTS. It isn’t ridiculously overpowered, which means the kids won’t host an intervention when Pop-pop buys it, and maybe even Mom-mom will want one if it comes in powder blue. It appears that it will be much cheaper than the CT6, so maybe it will sell in volume.

    The ironic part would be if GM pulled this engine option after a year or two because they hadn’t actually planned on people buying it and messing up their CAFE balance.

    • 0 avatar
      RedRocket

      If the exterior looks sharp in your eyes, better get them checked. It has a DLO Fail of epic proportions that should never have made it out of the design studio. Overall it looks like something Kia or Infiniti might be offering. Not bad, but not Cadillac.

      As for the downgrading of the V name, that is straight out of the GM playbook going back many decades. The BelAir was once the top of the line Chevy, then it was Impala, then Caprice. By the 1970s the BelAir was the taxicab special.

      • 0 avatar
        Robotdawn

        I totally agree with SPPPP, I think the new lower power V’s look great, although the 4 isn’t much more than a refresh of the ATS. If BMW and Mercedes can do lesser AMGs and Ms, so can Cadillac do lesser Vs.

        And the DLO is fine. I had no idea fake windows were even a design “flaw” until the CT5 C pillar of doom. I had never noticed it on my car, and upon research most of my recent cars have fake windows in the C pillar.

        Heck, I think the current trend of being too cheap to create two plastic bumpers for cars, one with two exhaust cutouts and another with only one far exceeds this faux pas.

        • 0 avatar
          Nick_515

          That makes three of us, Robotdawn. I don’t buy cars by DLO, and 3.0T will do JUST FINE.

          • 0 avatar
            sckid213

            +1 I currently drive a gen-2 CTS with the 3.6. I never cared for the third-gen CTS, and couldn’t afford a V when I bought the car 8+ years ago.

            I am intrigued by the “lower” V CT5. IMO it’s a great place for me to land – not insane like a “full” V, but a nice step up.

            If interior quality, driving dynamics, and in-person styling are there, I’m in. My gen-2 has been extremely reliable.

            And I’m 35.

          • 0 avatar
            RedRocket

            Lots of very badly-styled cars sell. Most Honda’s, Toyota’s, the large-mouth Lexus, Subaru…. that doesn’t mean the design is good. It just means buyers don’t value good design.

    • 0 avatar
      Rocket

      All else equal, would you be less excited if it were wearing a V-Series badge?

      • 0 avatar
        jack4x

        The Impala and Lucerne buyer will be seriously disappointed by the interior room of this thing I predict. Those were legitimate 5 adult vehicles. If the CT5 is smaller than the CTS, then I wouldn’t want to spend a road trip in the back.

  • avatar
    Hummer

    The answer to this problem is a N/A V8 under the supercharged V8.

    No one wants to be known as the cheaparse that chose the V6, they lose more buyers by making the next step down some lame small engine. A N/A 6.2L was the perfect stop gap,

    However the idea that a Cadillac has “too much” is hilarious, that’s the whole point of buying a luxury car, it’s a luxury to have more than you need. Nothing luxurious about a turbocharged 3 liter hamster engine.

  • avatar
    jalop1991

    This is nothing new. Honda, for example, used to build dead-reliable cars. Nowadays they vend junk to the public, but still put the Honda nameplate on it.

  • avatar
    Maymar

    Funny, I live in a city with a pretty healthy amount of AMG/M/RS cars driven by people who either have no business driving one, or just know that they have the most expensive one. In fact, I’m not sure the G-wagen comes any way but with an AMG badge. Could be the problem is that they’ve mostly built sedans that appeal to the elderly or a handful of Car & Driver readers with money. At this point, they’d do less to dilute the V-name by throwing some variant of supercharged LT at an Escalade (I wouldn’t care for it or the owners, but it’d be more effective than whatever they’re doing).

  • avatar
    MiataReallyIsTheAnswer

    Go ahead, Caddy- just try to scare me with “too much” horsepower. I dare ya.

  • avatar
    Lie2me

    I’d really like to see Cadillac offer some “V” options in their crossovers, that could be interesting. So they won’t :(

    • 0 avatar
      sckid213

      I think they’re actually “expanding the V line” downwards like this so that they can do V versions of the crossovers that aren’t “too intimidating,” yet they can still charge more for the V badge.

      I think the main thing that is going over people’s heads is that this is a way to push Cadillac upmarket, by capturing more buyers in the “Sport package plus” category that Cadillac didn’t compete in before — it was basic “Sport” appearance package, or V, nothing in between.

  • avatar
    jack4x

    I’m trying and failing to imagine an executive from literally any other automaker coming out and saying this. Seems like they were surprised and caught flat footed by the idea that they might get bad press for announcing cars with half the power of their predecessors, and had to come up with a lame and unconvincing excuse to stop the bleeding. How is this so difficult for a multi-billion dollar company?

  • avatar
    ToddAtlasF1

    In 2015 the car I drove for work’s lease was ending and I was under some pressure from my employer to look at the new CTS-V. We went to the dealer, but there were no real CTS-Vs to look at. What they had was a CTS V-sport, and it spared me waiting for a CTS-V by having a half-baked interior compared to the Audi I was turning in. Realistically, the CTS V-sport had as much performance as the 3.0T Audis, but the interior eliminated the Cadillacs from consideration. The supercharged V8 of the CTS-V might have compensated for the flimsy seat controls and touch dash that moved when you touched it, assuming Cadillac could have leased it for less than $800 a month. There’s certainly no point in them offering cars that are neither 100% refined nor powerful if they’re trying to build market share against other premium brands.

    I know a few people who almost certainly drive AMGs because they’re more expensive than regular Mercedes-Benzes. I haven’t heard a one of them complain about there being too much power in cars where you need to have all of your personal possessions carefully stowed before you stomp on the pedals. One big market for luxury cars that Cadillac is writing off is southern California. The freeways have light-metered entrance ramps where 500+ HP luxury cars and P100D Teslas earn their keep. If a car can’t go from 0-75 mph in a few hundred feet effortlessly, it isn’t a luxury car there.

  • avatar
    Hummer

    Reading these comments makes me believe the readers imagine a CTS-V to drive akin to a 79 Ram 200, 600HP on a good platform is very controllable and very fun. Overpowered is not a word to use, there are a lot of people with hellcats that are trying to figure out how to get more.

    Pretending that in the year 2019 355HP qualifies as a lot in a luxury car shows me that reader have very low expectations from Cadillac, can’t say I blame them.

    Regardless a V6 should not be in a Cadillac, reserve them for bottom end Buick’s but no Cadillac worth it’s name should ever leave a dealership with less than a V8.

  • avatar
    johnls39

    Regardless, the base V models will be fantastic cars for everyday use. 0-60 between the CT4/5-V should be in the mid 4 second mark which is excellent in my book.

    Cadillac is making an excellent decision by demoting the V models for the mass market while the ultra performance versions of these two cars are in the works as halo vehicles.

  • avatar
    Tele Vision

    My 2007 CTS-V is running perfectly. LS2, headers, intake, and a few replacement parts ( starter/water pump/plugs and wires/front rotors/brake pads – all done in my driveway ). I’m glad I got in before the marque was diluted by the above dreck. I’d love a MT Vagon but they’re like hen’s teeth so I’ll keep my ’07 running as long as it’s viable – which, with both factory and aftermarket support, could be a long time. I’ve seen them advertised for less than USD$10,000 in the USA, usually modded a bit, too. Cheapest and fastest leather you’ll ever own!

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    “Our previous product was too good, so here’s some crap”

  • avatar
    Flipper35

    While I agree that HP isn’t everything. 340hp in a Lotus Exige for instance is a hoot. But midrange HP in a car whose weight is also midrange is just, how would you say it? Common?

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    TOO MUCH POWER?

    Don’t push the accelerator so hard, Francis.

  • avatar

    this company is a disgrace. they won’t publish monthly sales figures and are afraid to face shareholders in person. today’s meeting went 52 minutes (shortest in history? and they only allowed 6 questions. they are corrupt and incompetent.

  • avatar
    Garrett

    Word has it that the aftermarket vinyl roofs were being ripped off by the force of the prior engines.

  • avatar
    Rick Astley

    Now if only the Mazda6 Signature didn’t have a nicer interior than these hum-drum, run-of-the-mill, GM products.

    It’s as if only one GM designer in the past 30 years had heard of a soft or curved line, and they were relegated to designing a more brittle single use push clip than they currently have.

  • avatar
    Wodehouse

    It always seems odd to me that the “V-Sports” models are on a lower ladder rung than the “V” models. Maybe, Cadillac is planning to reintroduce V-Sports as the top performance models…or…not.


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