Sport sedans, as I see it, make for the ultimate car. They’ve sleek lines, powerful engines, luxurious interiors, rear- or all-wheel drive, and four doors. Sports sedans, then, can just as easily send your heart into palpitations on the track as they can get your kids to school in safety and style.
When you think of a sports sedan, though, what image jumps into your mind? A BMW M5, Mercedes-Benz E63 AMG, or maybe even a Jaguar XFR? All good but wildly expensive choices, as each starts well above $90,000. And to get the one you really want – with all the bits – you’re likely going to push close to $100,000.
Let’s face it; the wife is never going to go for that. If only there were something else that was both mental and also reasonable at the same time. There is. It’s called the 2014 Cadillac CTS-V sedan.
I know what you’re thinking. Cadillacs are for old men who, due to having fought in a foreign war, are too proud to buy an import thereby forgoing a truly superior product. You’re right; there are plenty of those old Cadillac-driving codgers who hold their hate for the Gerries above all else. As the Greatest Generation dies off, though, Cadillac is slowly changing into the kind of car company that you actually be proud of, one to rival BMW.
Before I try to convince you that the CTS-V isn’t just a float-y, front-wheel drive creampuff, let’s take a look at some of the Caddy’s quick stats, shall we?
Cadillac has bolted a 6.2-liter supercharged V8 under the hood of the CTS-V sedan that creates 556 horsepower and 551 pound-feet of torque. It is in fact the most powerful engine ever fitted to a Cadillac. And if you’re wondering; yes, that is more power than the E63 AMG or the XFR and only 4 less than the M5.
Mated to the uproarious supercharged V8 is either a six-speed manual or the six-speed automatic. For the purposes of this review, we’ll be referring to the manual (no pun intended), as that was what we drove and what we’d buy.
All that momentous power is sent to the rear wheels through a limited slip differential, which has been designed with asymmetrical half-shafts to balance torque delivery effectively negating “power hop.” The result is a 0-60mph run in 3.9 seconds.
Do I have your attention now? Thought so.
Clearly, the CTS-V fits nicely in with the European crowd. It has understated yet sinewy lines, seating for five, and big 19-inch sport wheels that lend a glimpse at the substantial Brembo brakes bolted at all four wheels.
While there are many, many exciting parts of the CTS-V sedan, let’s get to the suspension, which is usually a concern for the uninitiated when it comes to Cadillac. The CTS-V features Magnetic Ride Control, which is the world’s fastest-reacting suspension technology. It’s absolutely nothing like grampappy’s American land yacht.
Here’s how Cadillac explains it: “Magnetic Ride Control uses shocks controlled by advanced magneto-rheological technology, rather than mechanical valves, to greatly accelerate response time and precision. Electronic sensors at all four wheels literally ‘read the road’ every millisecond, making constant adjustments to damping to create virtually instantaneous and extremely precise control of body motions.”
In short: it’s stiff when you want it and soft when you don’t – all controlled with the push of a dash-mounted button. Magnetic Ride Control allows the CTS-V to push its specially designed Michelin Pilot Sport PS2 performance tires to the road with masterful precision. This keeps you feeling confident and the Cadillac calmly controlled in the bendy bits.
On the interior the CTS-V continues to impress – at least at first glance. Cadillac products of recent years seemed to have been designed by men who had never driven another brand of car. They seemed to inexplicably live in their own gaudy, vulgar world of crystals and overly polished wood trim. Unlike other Cadillac and GM products of the recent past, however, the CTS-V interior isn’t garish in the slightest. It’s modern, clean, and luxurious. As standard the CTS-V sedan interior is very nice. Cadillac offers a $3,600 upgrade, however, for Recaro sport seats. I highly recommend them as they not only bolster passengers during spirited cornering but also add a bit more visual panache.
Since the CTS-V is getting on in years, its technological features look slightly outdated. In spite of its outdated ways, the CTS-V still has a few tricks up its sleeve. The navigation screen, for example, hides away in the dash until you need it. But when it’s not in use, you can still see the top inch or so allowing you to see your media playback information. It’s quite clever.
The best part of the CTS-V, aside from the awe-inspiring acceleration, is the six-speed manual gearbox. Unlike the 2014 BMW M5, which is loose in neutral and clunky when grabbing a gear, the CTS-V’s manual gear shifter is smooth and imperturbable. Cadillac engineers have found that perfect mix between heft and fluid movement. Every automaker should take lessons from the manual transmission in the CTS-V.
So what does this wondrous luxury power sedan cost? It starts at $64,900 but the one you want will run you $73,035. Which, if you’re as bad at math as I am, is clearly – and delightfully – some money less than its competitors.
The Cadillac CTS-V is not perfect, though. Far from it. The CTS-V is based upon an Australian car, the Holden Commodore, which was designed in 1998. Although it’s been modified over the years, it lacks some of the refinement of its newly reborn German competitors. This means that after a few thousand miles of spirited driving under its belt, the interior of the CTS-V sedan composes its own symphony of rattles and squeaks. A Mercedes-Benz AMG would never do that. And if it did, Fritz would lose a hand.
The CTS-V is inexplicably both loud and quiet at the same time – and in the worst ways. Driving down the road, the cabin is full of both tire and wind noise. This would be fine, however, if the roadway white noise were over shadowed by the rumble of the 6.2-liter V8. It’s not. No, the Cadillac designers left the exhaust rather quiet presumably in keeping with the Cadillac lineage. With the radio off, a keen ear can hear the whine of the 1.9-liter supercharger as it slams air down into the V8 but the growl of the exhaust is nearly nonexistent inside the cabin. Passersby on the street will hear the exhaust grumble, sure. But they didn’t pay the $73,000 so why should they enjoy the auditory pleasure of your V8?
Lastly, and this might not come as a surprise to anyone, but the fuel economy isn’t great. I know, I know, it’s not supposed to be, as it’s rated at only 14mpg city/19mpg highway. During with my time with, though, I averaged 8mpg. Again, this was fine in Cadillacs of the 1960s but even the M5 gets 22mpg on the highway.
Do the drawbacks outweigh the numerous standout features of the CTS-V? No. I still would buy the CTS-V over any one of its European competitors. And why? The XFR tries too hard and the M5 is cocky and overly confident in its own skills.
The Caddy on the other hand is still scrappy, fighting for your affection, wanting you to forget its forerunners. The CTS-V has far and away more niggling issues than the comparable cars but in the world of unfeeling, aloof German sedans, the CTS-V shines brightly as the solitary American that dares take on the European powers that be. And I like that.
So, then, the CTS-V does everything I think a car should do: haul some people while also scaring them half to death. It’s perfect.