Wonderful Coupe Eclipses Germans
Everything You Thought About Americans Reversed By This Caddy
For beautiful, exhilarating
Against nothing (see below)
SCHENGEN, Luxembourg - Walking towards the Cadillac CTS-V in the car park, a few stereotypes crossed my mind. After all, this was as an All-American sports car. It was likely to be very comfortable, very powerful in a lazy V-8 kind of way, and a pig-dog to handle once the straights became corners.
Right, wrong and wrong.
Sure, it was comfortable. It’s not a Lotus kind of sports car where part of the apparent lure is that you have to somehow squeeze yourself into a space designed for a stunted, 150 pound Formula One performer, then drive with the claustrophobic fear that if you have the slightest shunt with anything at all, the space around you is so limited, the fire brigade will have to be summoned to get you out. No, the CTS-V was very comfortable. The cabin was stunning.
The CTS-V is more than just very powerful. “Very powerful” doesn’t do justice to 564 hp of supercharged V-8. Turn on the engine and the noise is simply awesome, in a quiet, sophisticated understated way. Move away and the transmission begins to whine with a promise that once the open road beckons, this will be some kind of flying machine. It was. When I drove across the bridge from Schengen to the French-German border I had a choice. Turn right for the roads of France and the 80 mph speed limit, or left into Germany and the unrestricted autobahns. No prizes for guessing that no-brainer of a decision.
Another stereotype beckoned when I clambered in. The car had a six-speed manual gearbox, when I was personally geared up for an automatic. Oh no; at least an auto box can’t be stiff and inaccurate. Prejudices wrong again. This manual gearbox was BMW-like in its accuracy and ease of use. Oh my God here comes a corner. No worries, the car stayed flat and true going exactly where it was pointed. Once you start going through the gears and have a second or two to look at the dials as you gain confidence, you will see that the rev counter leaves a trail of red dots as the engine speed increased. Neat.
What the hell was that?
And I’ve almost forgotten the looks of the car. I’ve been saying for some years now after visiting the Detroit Car Show that Cadillacs were now generally almost works of art to look at. The squared-off lines that are common to the CTS range of saloon cars and coupes look terrific. The looks spell great and inspired design with a degree of understatement, unlike most of the German offerings which of course are the acts to match in this market. A year ago I nominated the Cadillac Converj as my star of the Detroit show. As you can see, it is simply beautiful, and uses many of the design cues you see right across the Cadillac range.
Among the exclusive design claims for the car, it is said to have the world’s fastest-reacting suspension technology, Magnetic Ride Control. This uses shocks controlled by electro-magnets, rather than mechanical valves, greatly accelerating response time. (Audi claims to have done the same thing) Electronic sensors at all four wheels literally “read the road” every millisecond, making constant adjustments to damping to create virtually instantaneous and extremely precise control of body motions. This keeps the car very composed during hard cornering, acceleration, braking and other dynamic maneuvers. It might sound like hyperbole, but I think it worked.
And at the front, there is the matter of power. The 6.2 litre supercharged V-8 engine generates 564 horsepower and 747 Nm of torque. This spells zero to 62 mph in 4.4 seconds and from rest to 125 mph in 13.2 seconds. Need I say more.
(Cadillac provided flight and hotel)
Neil Winton November 20, 2010
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