New & Used Cadillac CTS-V: In Depth
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The Cadillac CTS-V competes with the BMW M5, Jaguar XF-R, and the Mercedes-Benz E63 AMG, standing alone as the single highest-performance American luxury car.
The CTS-V is a high-performance lineup of cars spun off from the CTS architecture. At times the CTS-V badge was applied to a sedan, a coupe, and a wagon--but at present, the CTS-V is offered only as a four-door sedan.
First launched in 2004, the CTS-V was only available as a sedan. Based on the CTS sedan, but with much more horsepower, a more advanced and track-tuned suspension, upgraded brakes, and unique aerodynamic and interior styling elements. the CTS-V rapidly gained credence as a serious performance/luxury sedan.
MORE: Read our 2016 Cadillac CTS-V Preview for details on the latest CTS-V
Rated at 400 horsepower from its original 5.7-liter LS6 engine, updated in 2006 to a 6.0-liter LS2 V-8 engine also rated at 400 hp, the large and relatively heavy (3,850 pounds) sedan nonetheless offered very brisk acceleration, reaching 60 mph in just 4.6 seconds and reaching a top speed of 163 mph. A six-speed manual transmission was the only offering in the first-generation CTS-V. Over its four-year model run, the CTS-V gained various trim and appearance options, but stayed essentially the same mechanically aside from the engine change.
The second-generation CTS-V launched in 2009, based on the then-new CTS sedan, offering a new six-speed automatic transmission in addition to the six-speed manual and an all-new engine. The new engine was a 6.2-liter LSA V-8, supercharged to reach 556 horsepower and 551 pound-feet of torque. Acceleration improved significantly with the added power, shrinking the 0-60 mph time to 3.9 seconds and raising the top speed to 198 mph.
The second-gen car used an adaptive suspension with magnetorheological dampers, which does an excellent job of retaining comfort and sport attributes simultaneously. A set of brakes from Brembo brought the 4,250-pound car to a halt with immediacy. The second CTS-V also improved on its predecessor's cabin, with Alcantara accents throughout, available sport seats, and racing-inspired details to go along with the usual Cadillac luxuries.
A wagon version of the CTS-V was introduced in 2010, as a 2011 model. Sharing the same core mechanical underpinnings with the sedan, the CTS-V Sport Wagon was one of the few truly high-performance luxury wagons available in the United States.
The CTS-V Coupe also arrived in 2010 as a 2011 model, sharing the same wheelbase and core mechanical elements as the sedan, but with a much more dramatic, low-profile look, including a more raked windshield and lower roofline. The CTS-V Coupe otherwise shared roughly the same key performance statistics with the sedan and wagon.
Although the CTS sedan was new for 2014, the existing CTS-V models carried over for one more year as 2014 models. For the 2015 model year, only the coupe model was carried over.
In 2015, the third-generation CTS-V was introduced, this time offered--initially, at least--only as a four-door sedan. As a 2016 model-year vehicle, the new CTS-V packs the Chevy Corvette Z06's drivetrain, with only minor modifications, generating 640 horsepower and 630 pound-feet of torque. Based on the latest version of the CTS, the 2016 Cadillac CTS-V offers a more aggressive design, greater luxury, and extensive performance enhancements. Among the upgrades are third-generation magnetorheological dampers, a Cadillac-tuned take on the Performance Traction Management system that provides stability and control in environments ranging from snow and ice to all-out attacks on lap times at the track. An electronically actuated limited-slip different, a quick-shifting eight-speed automatic transmission (with paddle shifters), and high performance tri-compound tires are also included. Cadillac claims 0-60 mph times for the new CTS-V at 3.7 seconds, with a top speed of 200 mph.
We've driven the 2016 Cadillac CTS-V, but driving impressions are still under embargo, so stay tuned for our full review of the new CTS-V in the coming months.