2009 Cadillac CTS-V: Another Gold Medal for the Americans

Written by Kimatni D. Rawlins

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Cadillac always seems to be right on par with both consumer and industry expectations. The Escalade has had one of the greatest runs of all time for a full-size luxury SUV and the latest generation CTS is narrowed down in our book to a top three choice for entry-level luxury sport sedans. The CTS Concept Coupe shown at the Detroit auto show is coming as is a new, five-seat only SRX. Cadillac is also betting on the big SUVs shift back to wagons with last week’s showcasing of their CTS Wagon. There are even talks of another sedan that might hint at a super premium vehicle to go up against the German’s best. Maybe an S-class or 7-Series challenger? Well, until then we are left to play around with the four-door, rear-wheel-drive, high-performance CTS-V. Not a problem!

Only in its second generation, the CTS-V has evolved into something very special. “It’s now a mature 30-year old male whereas the first generation was an anxious 15-year old boy,” stated a GM representative. And she is exactly right. When first introduced, the vehicle was so aggressive and jumpy there was no way it could have been a Cadillac. The newly introduced 2009 model is bi-modal. During peaceful driving it’s calm and docile. Not until you call up the 556-horsepower and 551-ft.-lbs. of torque does the CTS-V turn into Jamaican Olympians on the track. And with 400-horsepower available at only 1,200 rpm and a 0 to 60 mph time of 3.9 seconds, the CTS-V is one of the baddest boys on the block. It’s like the young one who’s been bullied for years and thus began training to avoid it happening again. He’s just waiting to be tested. Yet, it won’t be long since Cadillac has their eye on BMW’s shogun assassin M5 and the AMG Benz twins, E55 AMG and E63 AMG. “The CTS-V represents the full extension of our design, technology and performance capabilities,” said Jim Taylor, Cadillac general manager. “The V-Series takes the award-winning CTS sport sedan and elevates it to a position within the club of the world’s most exclusive and capable cars.” Time to get the popcorn out for this competition.

To the contrary, the biggest challenge Cadillac is going to face is how they began branding the V-Series to the unknown. Trust me, there is room for another performance line within the market, but how many will know about it? When I told people I was headed upstate NY to test the CTS-V on the newly built “Millionaire Boys Club” motorsports track, the same questions kept surfacing. Didn’t you drive that last year? Cadillac has another new CTS? As if they didn’t even hear the “V” roll off my tongue. And as I explained, “It’s the high-performance version of the CTS.” Maybe Cadillac will have to tap into actors and athletes as they have done in the past with CTS and Escalade TV spots featuring Kate Walsh, Andy Garcia, Tiki Barber and the lovely Sofia Vergara. Or maybe they offer Automotive Rhythms one for a year so we can take it to places normally fit for Germans, Brits and Italians. Whatever the case, it needs to be seen on the scene.

After our power driving at the exclusive high-performance Monticello Motor Club in Monticello, New York, I was highly convinced. Monticello opened this summer as an entirely new private club devoted to luxury and performance car enthusiasts. The $125,000 yearly fee includes multiple configurations of tracks designed to exacting specifications for exotics and performance roadrunners. And of course the CTS-V held its own with enhancements such as a supercharged 6.2-liter V8, staggered 19s wrapped in Michelin’s top of the line Pilot Sport 2 summer rubber, a Tremec six-speed manual with a top speed of 192 mph (Hydra-Matic six-speed automatic also available: a CTS-V first), and Brembo vented, co-cast brakes (Aluminum six-piston front, four-piston rear). The small-block V8 is Cadillac’s most powerful engine in the company’s 106-year history while the Eaton supercharger -- same as on the Corvette ZR1 but with shorter rotors -- uses a new 4-lobe design on each of the two rotors. This new configuration produces more pressure than previous models yet keeps the engine quieter. And don’t be fooled by the automatic. You can control it via shift buttons on the underside of the steering wheel or via the gear shifter manually. Power is available in every gear as evidenced by the CTS-V’s 7:59.32 lap time during testing at the legendary Nürburgring. It’s claimed by GM to be the fastest publicly documented time for a production sedan. GM’s own “Magnetic Ride Control” technology allows the vehicle to be driven in Tour or Sport. Its shocks are controlled by electro-magnets and ferrous shock fluid opposed to mechanical valves and actively monitors the road via a network of sensors that sends the data to the CTS-V’s onboard computer.

Significant design adjustments for the CTS-V include a raised hood to accommodate the bigger powerplant, aggressive front and rear fascias, a new grille with wider openings for better breathing and rocker panels. Inside the V-Series offers 14-way adjustable performance seats from Recaro, an aeronautical like center stack with pop-up nav screen, a 14-gig hard drive, Bluetooth and of course iPod integration with an interface as sophisticated as they come. Obsidian-like material (black glass resemblance) outlines the center stack, center console and door trim. The steering wheel, seats and gear shifter are made with a suede-like microfiber material which has better properties than suede. Lastly, the interior is hand stitched just as on the CTS. This is definitely the car of the 21st Century for any Jedi. My only gripe was the tight back seats which wore on my knees during a 2 hour ride back to the airport. And there is less headroom in the rear than in the front.

Surely the CTS-V will be a limited production vehicle for Cadillac. Yet, this car is further proof that you can have a terrific driving experience spending Dollars – and you’re not forced to spend Lira, Pounds Sterling or Euros to have that experience. Pricing has not yet been announced.

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