All this hardware was carefully honed on the Nordschleife
, the northern loop of Germany's legendary Nürburgring racetrack, where the original CTS was also developed. Quite proud of its creation, Cadillac invited us to the Ring to try out its BMW beater to be.
Whether tossed into the air over one of the track's numerous violent humps or crushed down to its bump stops through the pavement's high-speed compressions, the CTS-V
remained secure and sure-footed. The car inspired tremendous confidence flying through the Ring's linked, blind bends, thanks to great grip and excellent handling balance.
Mild understeer is the car's basic mode, but as you approach the cornering limit and apply more power, you can drift the tail out with micrometer precision. This is true, classic power oversteer, not the lift-throttle, toe-out-induced variety.
Although the car's steering effort is on the light side, it builds naturally with speed and cornering force. Moreover, the mechanism is fluid enough that you can feel the effect of the tires' contact patches shifting as you fly through the track's many camber and pavement changes.
This chassis competence is critical because the CTS-V
gains speed ferociously. Cadillac suggests a 0-to-60 time of 4.7 seconds, and the car felt entirely capable of that. When we test one, we expect a quarter-mile in the low 13s at close to 110 mph and a top speed in the low 160s, unless tire durability demands a governor in the 155-mph area.
Those figures should make the V-series quicker than a BMW M3 or M5. More important, John Heinricy, the director of GM's high-performance-vehicle operations and a successful racer for more than 20 years, says he's lapped the Nordschleife
in 8 minutes and 19 seconds in the V-series—a better time than either M-car can turn.
On the road, we were struck by how refined the Corvette V-8 felt and sounded in the CTS. Idle quality was excellent, engine noise was minimal when cruising on the highway, and even at full throttle and 6500 rpm, the engine produced a refined shriek that is far removed from the more guttural roar it generates in a Corvette.
Blessed with fairly close ratios, the gearbox is well matched to the engine, although its shifter is a bit too rubbery to ever be confused with a Honda or BMW device. We would also like a steering column less than 30 years old, with finer tilt adjustments and the ability to telescope.
Otherwise, the V-series cockpit provides a happy driver's environment. Although the seats are hardly changed from the standard CTS chairs, suede inserts provide sufficient additional lateral support to work even at the Nürburgring while providing excellent comfort on the road. A new cluster with white-on-black instruments lends a more businesslike air to the cockpit. Several satin chrome touches collaborate with subtle contrasting stitching to dress up the V-model's interior, although the basic CTS layout has never struck us as particularly rich-looking.
Pricing was undefined at press time, but base will definitely be less than $50,000, which should include everything but a sunroof, navigation system, and XM radio. For a roomy, well-equipped sedan that promises to keep up with the sportiest Germans, that's an
front-engine, rear-wheel-drive, 5-passenger, 4-door sedan
Estimated base price:
pushrod 16-valve V-8, aluminum block and heads, port fuel injection
Displacement: 346 cu in, 5665cc
Power (SAE net): 400 bhp @ 6000 rpm
Torque (SAE net): 390 lb-ft @ 4800 rpm
Transmission: 6-speed manual
Wheelbase: 115.2 in
Length/width/height: 194.5/70.6/58.1 in
Curb weight: 3850 lb
Manufacturer's performance ratings:
Zero to 60 mph: 4.7 sec
Standing 1/4-mile: 13.1 sec @ 109 mph
Projected fuel economy:
EPA city driving: 18 mpg EPA highway driving: 27 mpg