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2012 Cadillac CTS Performance

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Performance
For 2012, the Cadillac CTS range (excluding the V-series) gets a choice of two engines in sedan and Sport Wagon forms, a base 3.0-liter direct-injection V-6 rated at 270 horsepower, and a 3.6-liter direct-injection V-6 rated at 318 horsepower. It's most commonly paired with a six-speed automatic transmission (which is standard on the 3.6-liter engine and all all-wheel-drive models) but is available with a six-speed manual in rear-drive models with the 3.0-liter V-6.

The Coupe, on the other hand, only offers the 3.6-liter engine, and is only available with a six-speed automatic transmission. Both rear- and all-wheel-drive models are available.

Looking beyond the hard numbers, the CTS family offers a lot of engagement for an avid driver. Both engines prefer to rev, gaining pep as they climb the tachometer; neither is downright quick, however, especially off the line. Still, in the upper one-third of the rev range, the 3.6-liter engine in particular is willing and able--and sweet-sounding--when pushed. All three versions click off a 0-60 mph run in about seven seconds--slightly less for the slightly lighter sedan.

While the 2012 Cadillac CTS isn't downright quick until you step up to the V-series, it's quick enough, agile for its size, and engaging behind the wheel.

The six-speed automatic is smooth-shifting and surprisingly capable in full-auto sport mode. Shifts can also be commanded directly, through buttons on the back of the steering wheel.

In all three models, which offer four different factory suspension setups, handling is generally comfortable but balanced with firm feel and body control. The FE3 suspension offers a great compromise solution, with the 19-inch wheels and summer tires providing a sharper feel to steering and more ultimate grip, while the dampers and tuning iron out the bigger bumps. Driven with spirit, the CTS feels firm and planted, though it will tend toward understeer when pushed very hard. It's even a willing companion on a winding back road, but it's most at home bombing down freeways Autobahn-style.

An upgraded Performance Package offers a firmer, sportier suspension tune, 19-inch polished aluminum wheels, and Continental ContiSport Contact summer tires, an upgraded cooling system, and beefier performance brakes. Even without the Performance Package, however, the CTS's brake feel is very good, and modulation is easy. With a heavy car, however, more heat absorption capability is a good thing.

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