2011 Cadillac CTS-V Wagon Rocks My World

March 21, 2011

All Photos: Anne Proffit

General Motors scored a profit for the first time in, well, a long time this past fiscal year.  Helped by a Federal bailout that GM is repaying quickly, the company is on the upswing thanks to some exceptional products from its remaining product lines: Chevrolet, Buick, GMC and Cadillac.

The latter division has all number of great cars and trucks and its smallest four-door sedan, the CTS, sets the bar for compact luxury products.  To increase its visibility in the marketplace, Cadillac now has several ranges of CTS: the sedan, wagon and coupe.  

I have to admit I’ve fallen for the bad boy in the Cadillac CTS sport wagon range: the CTS-V wagon.  While some vehicles are more masculine and others more feminine, the 2011 Cadillac CTS-V wagon is one machine that’s simply bad to the bone.  In a good way.

The perfect car for a driver who wants desperately to drive a Chevy Corvette Z06 or ZR1 but has to transport more than one passenger – and actually live a real life – the 2011 Cadillac CTS-V wagon is a supreme compromise.  Outside of the hood bulge and larger wheels and tires than the standard CTS wagon, the V packs performance wallop without screaming it to the rafters.  

Power generated by the 6.2-liter supercharged eight-cylinder engine is absolutely awesome – and usable.  Packing 556 horsepower at 6100 rpm (redline is 6250) and a comparable 551 lb-ft  of torque at a usable 3800-rpm, the 2011 Cadillac CTS-V just pounds off the line, from midrange or at the top of its 200-mph capabilities.

Cadillac fits a lovely six-speed manual transmission to this rear-wheel-drive hatch and puts a limited slip differential to the rear wheels, as well.  The shifter moves easily from gear to gear and the flatness of the torque curve allows the CTS-V to operate smoothly at lugging speeds.  For instance, at 70 mph, this lovely machine is turning all of 2100 rpm!

The CTS-V wagon has short and long arm front and multi-link rear fully independent suspensions with stabilizer bars at either end of the car.  There is magnetic ride control that allows the driver to select either “sport” or “touring” settings; I kept the CTS-V wagon on “sport” for the complete week of our test.

The ZF power rack and pinion steering on this Cadillac is oh, so precise and sensitive to minute inputs; the mere mention of slop in this system is laughable.  Brakes are all-wheel ventilated antilock with traction and stability controls.  There are six airbags about the cabin for passive safety, but the beauty of this machine is in its active safety and its ability to make any capable driver feel like he or she is truly capable behind the wheel.

The Caddy’s interior is quiet but one still can hear the bellow of large, double exhausts and feel the road beneath, particularly in sport mode.  One of the CTS-V’s better options, the suede steering wheel and shifter give this family hauler (in the finest sense of the word) the feel of a racecar.  Neither hot nor cold to the touch, the steering wheel, with its cruise and audio controls on either side is a wonderful addition to this car.

For the $68.590 out-the-door cost of the 2011 Cadillac CTS-V wagon, you could probably get yourself a BMW M3, an Audi S4 or a Mercedes-Benz C63 – all sedans.  None of them have the 58 cubic-feet of space available with the rear seats folded that this Caddy has, or even the 25 cubes with the two rear seats in use.  

There are some excellent options on the CTS-V wagon, shown here in iridescent Evolution green metallic with ebony leather interior.  First off, Cadillac fits Recaro high performance seats ($3400) that are adjustable in most every way and a great fit.  The delectable midnight Sapele wood trim package ($600) adds some more luxury and the suede steering wheel and shifter go for $300.  

There is also a $1300 gas-guzzler tax on the CTS-V wagon, which is rated at 14/19 mpg on premium unleaded and will easily drain the 18-gallon tank with any exuberant driving.  It’s tough to think of driving this car without exuberance.

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