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Review of the 2016 Cadillac CTS-V: Battle for the Belt!

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On: Wed, Mar 23, 2016 at 8:57AM | By: Lou Ruggieri

Review of the 2016 Cadillac CTS-V:  Battle for the Belt!

When it comes to creating the ultimate sports sedan, we have to admit that BMW has essentially had the market cornered since the turn of the century. The M5 has, plainly and simply, blown the doors off just about any and ever competitor that has tried to touch it since the E39 chassis stormed onto the scene in 2000 with a 394-horsepower rip-roaring V8 and six-speed manual. Some cars have come close to its performance, but none have been able to capture that mystical M gestalt; not AMG, not the V line, and nothing even close from the Japanese markets. However, for 2016, Cadillac—of all manufacturers—just may have created a car that could unseat the venerable M5 as world champion. The new CTS-V just may be the baddest four-door sedan in the world, and it has its sights set on Munich.

In just about every measurable category, the CTS-V bests the best Bimmer. Let's start with the heart and soul of the car; the bad Caddy (which may be referred to as Badillac or Baddy from this point forward) snarls to life with an engine borrowed from the nigh racecar Chevy ZO6. The all-aluminum 6.2-liter supercharged pushrod V8 starts up with a growl, until the exhaust system valves close up and fall into the default Clark Kent mode. Once it's warmed up, however, stab the throttle with some force and the code-named LT4 will roar with the ferocity of a cornered panther. Pumping out a heart-stopping 640 horsepower and face-flattening 630 lb-ft of torque, the CTS-V claims the title for most powerful Cadillac ever. Ever. The Badillac uses an all-new 8L90 8-speed automatic transmission that is 27 pounds lighter than the tranny it replaces. And while we would love to see a six- or seven-speed manual option, we understand that most people buying a Cadillac, even a six-hundred horsepower Caddy, will probably want an automatic… Oh well. That being said, however, the 8L90 rips through shifts smoothly and cleanly, way better than any of the DCT autos of days gone by.

Aside from the monster motor, just about everything else about the new CTS-V screams performance, albeit a bit more subtly than say, its race-bred Bow Tie cousin, but if you look for it, the new V is just as ready for the Nürburgring as it is for a leisurely cruise to grandma's house for Thanksgiving dinner. The entire front end (and entire body, for that matter) has been designed to harness and channel air where it's need the most. From feeding the big blower, to reducing front end lift, to helping cool off the massive 6-piston 15.4-inch front/4-piston 14.4-inch rear brakes, Caddy engineers made every line of design count. They even reduced the size of the Cadillac emblem on the front grille and redesigned the mesh to allow more air in. The hood is carbon fiber to help reduce weight, and if you opt for the carbon fiber package, you get a rear deck spoiler, a larger front lip splitter, and a few other exposed carbon fiber pieces. The Cadillac sits on V-specific 19-inch rims wrapped in Michelin Pilot Super Sport tires measuring 265/35R-19 up front and 295/30R-19 out back. Holding those tires in place is a race-ready suspension that manages to somehow provide plenty of feedback, yet feel isolated enough to not be intrusive on date night. It may be thanks to the electric steering, or the magnetorheological shocks, or an on-board computer that stays on top of changing road conditions to the tune of 1000 times per second.

Inside, the V is about as luxurious as it gets, this side of a Maybach. It has plush, yet supportive optional 16-position Recaro seats, room for five, and all of the tech goodies like a multi-camera view, an upgraded infotainment system that includes Apple Play, a 4G LTE hot-spot, and a performance data recorder. The LED dash is easy to read (and see), and is fully customizable to the driver's preference. The overall fit and finish is nothing short of surprising. This isn't your dime-store '90s GM car that used the same shift knob on a high-end Caddy as it did on a low-end Saturn.

On the track, the CTS-V bests not only its archrival M5, it whups the previous generation CTS-V in every measurable category. Compared to the 2016 M5, the Baddy runs to 0–60 mph in 3.5 seconds, beating the Bimmer by 0.3 seconds, to 100 mph in 7.4 seconds, besting the BMW by 0.9 seconds, through the quarter mile in 11.6 seconds @ 126.1 mph—compared to the M5's 12.0 seconds @122.3 mph—on the way to becoming the first Cadillac ever to reach a top speed of 200 mph, compared to the electronically limited 155 mph for the Bavarian barnstormer.

Around the skidpad the CTS-V beats the M5 again, 0.98 g vs. 0.92 g respectively, and even out-brakes the Bimmer, stopping from 60 mph in a mere 112 feet compared to 122 feet for the BMW. At only 4,128 pounds, the Caddy has a lower weight-to-power ratio at 6.5 lb/hp, a full pound lower than the M5. We say "only" because, keep in mind, this is still technically a midsize sedan with an enormous trunk, and room for the whole family. The Cadillac even ekes out the smallest of wins in fuel efficiency: 14/21 city/highway versus 14/20 for the Bimmer. Seems GM wanted to run the table when it came to facing their German benchmark, leaving no performance stone unturned, and that's exactly what they did.

All in all, the CTS-V is a screamer, when it wants to be anyway. But, we have to say the one area that the BMW comes closest to still besting the Caddy is in terms of that unexplainable feeling you have driving each car. The Bimmer feels connected to you in a way that seems hardwired to your cerebellum, and channels your impulses into road maneuvers in a way the CTS-V doesn't. And while that feeling may have edged out the last two generations of Cadillac's onslaughts, it seems that GM engineers had that X-Factor in mind when they built their combatant. The CTS-V doesn't seem as telepathic as the BMW, but in comparison to the V, the Bimmer feels almost boring. The CTS-V, when pushed, excites in a way that harks back to that original M5 of the year 2000. A rip-roaring good time that takes your breath away with barely a warning when you hit the go-pedal. This round, it seems as though the CTS-V has out M5-ed the M5, and can finally be crowned not only the fastest, it's also the Best Driving Sedan on the planet. We can't wait for round four.


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