Wonderful Coupe Eclipses Germans
Everything You Thought About Americans Reversed By This Caddy
Luckily For Europe, Cadillacs Will Be A Limited Presence For A While
rating ***** out of 5
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?
Once on the highway the car was simply amazing. It had so much torque you didn’t need to use the gearbox that much, but when you did the performance was out of this world. And the manner of its performance makes Cadillac’s claim seem serious that its main rivals are the BMW M5, and Mercedes Benz E55 AMG. I’m sure a few BMW, Porsche and Audi drivers on the motorway that day said to themselves “Was zur Hölle war das” “ (“What the hell was that”) as the CTS-V blasted by. This Cadillac might be able to match the Germans, but it will be sold in such limited numbers (see my feature on the front page) that it will only be a pin-prick of a competitor, overall.
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.
Cadillac said it developed the V version of the CTS Coupe on roads across the world, including the de rigueur slot on Germany’s famed Nürburgring.
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.
The V also includes sophisticated braking and tyres, in partnership with two companies renowned for high-performance technology: Brembo and Michelin. Brembo brakes include powerful, six-piston calipers in the front and four-piston calipers in the rear. Michelin worked with Cadillac engineers to develop its acclaimed Pilot Sport 2 summer tire and its 19-inch wheels. If you don’t want a manual gearbox, there’s a six-speed automatic with steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters.
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
|Engine:||6.2 litre supercharged V-8 petrol
|Power:||564 hp @ 6,100 rpm
|Torque:||747 Nm @ 3,800
|Gearbox:||six speed manual
|Acceleration:||0-62 mph-100 km/h 4.4 seconds
|Top Speed:||155 mph limited-255 km/h
|Fuel Consumption:||claimed combined – 15.3 mpg-18.5 l/km
|Suspension:||independent, magnetic ride control/ independent MRC
|Boot capacity:||385 litres
|Competition:||BMW M5, Mercedes Benz E55 AMG, Mercedes Benz E63 AMG