- Confident and easy to drive
- Suspension and brakes ready for track time
- Magnetic dampers provide a smooth ride
- Crowded, cluttered instrument panel
- Steering doesn’t have much road feel
- Manual shift gate required to use paddle-shifters
The 2010 Cadillac CTS-V is about as close as you can get to a four-door Corvette; Cadillac manages to beat top German sports sedans with a track-ready sedan that doesn’t forget about comfort.
The latest in a line of performance-focused V-Series cars from Cadillac, the Cadillac CTS-V packs a version of the Chevy Corvette ZR1 engine and takes aim at some of the leading sport sedans from Germany. The 2010 Cadillac CTS-V is based on the more mainstream CTS luxury sedan but is more exclusive, built in small numbers, and considerably more expensive.
Last year the CTS-V was reintroduced as a much more aggressively styled and more powerful vehicle, picking up the refinements inside and out that the CTS gained for ‘08. That’s to say, the CTS-V isn’t as smooth or rakish as rival sedans in this class; from either the front or rear, it’s boxy and angular, though the roofline and door lines help soften the proportions a bit. Taking a closer look, there are plenty of details to appreciate, including jewel-like headlamps, meshlike upper and lower grilles, a well-sculpted front fascia, and integrated fog lamps in front; in back Cadillac’s vertical tail lamps flank the corners, and the trunklid crease is lined with a spoilerlike strip of LEDs. V-Series badging and chrome side vents also help distinguish the V, and flashy 19-inch wheels, polished or painted, have V-shaped spoke segments and showcase the heavy-duty Brembo brake hardware. Overall, the exterior is different and probably won’t appeal to everyone, but inside, the 2010 Cadillac CTS-V follows smoother yet still very fashionable design. Trim alongside the doors extends across the instrument panel from both sides and slopes downward into a V-shaped center console that contains audio and climate controls and additional vents, LED accent lighting is piped in, and an available navigation display retracts neatly into the dash when not in use.
The lusty 6.2-liter, supercharged V-8 engine in the 2010 CTS-V makes an impressive 556 horsepower and 551 pound-feet of torque—enough to outgun other top sports sedans from Germany. Performance times have come in at just under four seconds to 60 mph either with the standard six-speed manual or optional six-speed automatic, with a top speed of 191 mph. In real-world driving, the tremendous torque of this engine can pin you back to your seat in just about any situation, yet a well-calibrated throttle makes it easy to take off smoothly and gently. The six-speed manual gearbox is precise, with a light clutch, while the automatic comes with paddle shifters that allow manual selection if you shift to a separate gate. All this power is made enjoyable through great handling, aided by GM's Magnetic Ride Control, which uses a magnetically sensitive fluid in the dampers to almost instantaneously firm up or soften the suspension. It allows a supple ride on rough roads and crisp body control when it’s needed. The system has a Sport mode, and the StabiliTrack stability control system uses a Competitive Driving Mode to make the most of the balanced chassis, powerful engine, and huge brakes—all enhanced with sticky Z-rated Michelin PS2 summer performance tires.
Interior comfort is good in the CTS-V, especially if you’re sitting out front in the well-bolstered leather sport seats or the even better available Recaro seats—finished in a breathable and grippy microfiber—that add lateral support for high-performance driving and supportive thigh extensions for taller drivers. The backseats are a little tight, but there’s enough space for two adults in reasonable comfort. The instrument panel is a love-hate thing; it’s attractive, with some impressive features and design details, but rather cluttered overall, with the climate controls especially low, near the driver’s knee.
The 2010 Cadillac CTS-V gets good crash-test ratings, but they’re not quite top-notch in all areas. The Cadillac CTS—which has virtually the same structure—gets four stars for frontal crash protection and five stars for side crash protection from the federal government. However, it garners very impressive "good" scores in IIHS frontal offset, side, and rear tests. Cadillac’s excellent StabiliTrak stability control system with a special track-oriented performance mode is standard along with anti-lock braking, front side airbags, and head curtain airbags for front and rear outboard passengers.
The Cadillac CTS-V is offered as a single model, pretty much including everything that’s expected in a traditional luxury car plus a few additional tech features. Xenon HID headlamps, Adaptive Forward Lighting, ultrasonic rear parking assist, rain-sensing wipers, heated power front seats, and dual-zone climate control are all there. So is a surround-sound audio system with a 40GB hard drive, USB connectivity, DVD compatibility, and a Bluetooth interface. Upgrade to the navigation system and you get one of the best screens we’ve tested; the sharp color screen functions as a radio display when stowed but extends upward when using nav functions. It also incorporates XM NavTraffic to provide live traffic information on maps and dynamic rerouting. Cadillac also provides a place to put the keyfob for the handy EZ key entry system, which can be set to automatically unlock the doors as you approach.