First Drive Review: 2009 Cadillac CTS-V
This 2009 review is representative of model years 2008 to 2013.
By Shaun Bailey of Road & Track
Monticello, New York — I'm back at the Monticello Motor Club, but this time I'm driving the new second-generation Cadillac CTS-V and not just watching John Heinricy chase down Bill Auberlen in a BMW M5 as reported in our October issue's "King for a Day." So, we already know the V can more than keep pace with the M5, and I can now confirm that the speed comes with a refinement and driving pleasure that are competitive with other sporting sedans.
Upping the ante is 556 bhp from a 6.2-liter supercharged V-8. Power peaks at 6100 rpm, just below the engine's peak speed of 6200. A staggering 551 lb.-ft. of torque is available at 3800 rpm. It's hard to resist the urge to generate billowing smoke clouds as it does this willingly and with ease. Gone are the trembling shift lever and hopping rear end of the first generation. The V is steady as a rock, thanks to the use of Magnetic Ride Control (MRC) shock absorbers and the efforts of Heinricy's team in fine-tuning the chassis.
From the most important seat — an optional leather Recaro with adjustable bolstering — I found the thick steering wheel and pedals to be placed appropriately for precision driving, an optional Alcantara package adding to the sporting feel. Most of the interior is from the CTS, but there are some detail differences. An important one is the lack of a mechanical parking brake, replaced by an electronic one, thus freeing up some foot space for a better-located dead pedal. I particularly like the piano black interior trim.
The gauges on the CTS-V are noticeably different. Red tracers follow the sweeping needles and add a technical sophistication. Other gauges include a multi-function display and boost gauge. To be honest, the speedometer in this car is pointless; it should just be a sticker that says "You're speeding." It's hard not to, as the car doesn't struggle to go fast. This feeling of ease is heightened by a light — yet quick — steering feel. A quick double-tap of the TC (traction control) button located on the steering wheel fixes that. Not only does that set the car in Competition mode, decreasing the stability-control restrictions, but also changes the amount of steering assistance.
For real fun, though, press and hold the traction control button to disable the entire system. Then select the Sport mode of the MRC system. That's what I did recently at the Milford proving grounds in both 6-speed manual and 6-speed automatic versions. At the test track I used up some of the custom Michelin Pilot Sport tires and performed instrumented testing. Both test cars were equipped with the optional brake package that simply swaps out front rotors and adds red paint to the Brembo calipers.
The Tremec TR6060 manual transmission handles power shifting with ease, which is good as the V is equipped with a no-lift shift feature. When near redline, the engine will hold boost for 1 second while the throttle is kept pressed to the floor. The exercise of power-shifting can be addictive. The automatic doesn't have the same insatiable desire to shred tires, but it offers an enjoyable experience nonetheless with quick upshifts and rev-matched downshifts that can be controlled by paddles on the steering wheel.
After my drive, it's clear that the CTS-V has come of age. No longer a harsh beast, the V can compete with the best in both performance numbers and subjective refinement. Price hasn't been announced, but if Cadillac can offer a sub-$70,000 MSRP, there will be a lot of happy buyers — regardless of what the competition does in the future, or even if the price of fuel doubles.