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The CTS was Cadillac's first real step back into true world-class luxury cars, and now, two generations on, the Cadillac CTS-V has vaulted it to frontrunner-status of not just luxury, but performance cars, almost regardless of price.
Wearing stylishly angular exteriors, chunky proportions, and aggressive details--courtesy of the latest iteration of the Art & Science design evolution--the CTS-V range includes a sedan, a coupe, and a wagon. While their interiors are a grade above the standard CTS, the sportier, sometimes more luxurious details are still wrapped around the somewhat brash and basic cabin of the car they're based on.
All use the same 556-horsepower supercharged 6.2-liter V-8 LSA engine, paired with either a six-speed automatic or a six-speed manual transmission. Zero to 60 mph times under 4.0 seconds are common to all three models, and being very similar in wheelbase and weight, they all handle about the same, too, which is to say, surprisingly well. Steering feel is a bit heavy and imprecise at times, but the overall feeling is of a car that's much smaller and lighter than it really is. On the skidpad, the CTS-V can muster more than 1g of lateral grip.
Underpinning this thrilling performance is an unexpectedly comfortable ride, enabled in large part by the advanced magnetic ride suspension system that dynamically adapts to driver inputs and road conditions. Beyond ride quality, the seats and cabin are very comfortable as well, particularly the leather Recaro front seats. The rear seat isn't as spacious, particularly in leg room, and is best reserved for a maximum of two adults despite seating areas for three.
Quality, fit, and finish is generally very good, though some control locations are less than ideal (a carryover from the standard CTS) and some of the switchgear can look a bit cheaper than you'd expect of a roughly $65,000 car. The CTS-V Sport Wagon largely alleviates rear-seat concerns while adding the utility of the rear cargo area. The Coupe offers about the same rear seat space as the sedan, but with trickier access, and slightly less headroom owing to a lower roofline.
As you'd expect with car of the CTS-V's caliber, there are a wide range of standard features and even more in the way of upgrades. Heated front seats, rear parking sensors, dual-zone climate control, and Bluetooth phone connectivity are all standard. A built-in g-meter measures performance statistics like lateral grip, acceleration, and more. The Coupe adds blind-spot monitors, new last year, to aid visibility around its large flanks. Navigation is optional, but brings with it a large retractable screen that sinks into the dash when not in use.
- Incredibly fast family-hauler
- Brakes and suspension are track-ready
- Comfortable ride with magnetic suspension
- Daily driver meets weekend warrior
- Striking cockpit
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- Controls somewhat awkward
- Lackluster steering feel
- Paddle shifters require console-shifter activation