Cadillac's V-Series Was Apparently Too Powerful for the Mainstream

Matt Posky
by Matt Posky
cadillacs v series was apparently too powerful for the mainstream

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.

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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  • Rick Astley Rick Astley on Jun 04, 2019

    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.

  • Wodehouse Wodehouse on Jun 05, 2019

    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.

  • Wjtinfwb How does the ICE mid-engine C8 platform work for... anything else? A sedan? SUV? With a mid engine configuration? A mid-engine SUV will have to be Suburban sized to offer the utility of a CRV. GM should dust off the Omega platform designed for the Cadillac CT6 for an SUV/Sedan offering with exceptional handling, Rear or AWD capability and acceptable space utilization. They also need to focus on interior fit & finish, trim choices and high quality final engineering and assembly. What GM doesn't need is another half-baked product with a storied and prestigious badge on the decklid and a premium price on the Monroney. No more Cimarron's, Allante's or X-cars needed to tarnish the reputation of Corvette.
  • InCogKneeToe BUILD It and they will come.By Build It, I mean a Vehicle that the Customer Wants and it works for them. It could be called Chevette for all that that matters. The Mach E's success isn't because it totes the Mustang on it.Just build what people want, the next Caravan/Taurus/Beetle/Maverick (truck).
  • YellowDuck do you make a mid-engine crossover? Or even a 4-door coupe? Me not get.
  • 28-Cars-Later Thanks Corey. The head stud job on NOrthSTAR-T was $3K *years ago* as it involves an engine pull so rear wheel arch rust in and of itself isn't a show stopper. I'll be sure to check out the trunk as it may start to add up on deferred maintenance. Supposedly this was garaged so the underneath the rockers etc. should be decent but if those are shot its not gonna work.
  • Mark 2016 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid, G4NG engine with connecting rod bearing issues. Engine needs to be replaced, but Hyundai is denying warranty claim. I have all maintenance records from mile zero. It has been in Hyundai Service department 5 time in 4 months. They added the knock sensor and software update to let you know the engine is about to blow up. They kicked the can down the road doing patch work until the car was past the 120k extended extended warranty. I have that documentation too. So how can I join the class action law suit or find a Lawyer that handles these types of issues?