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Who's Your Caddy?

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On: Sun, Jul 18, 2010 at 3:31PM | By: Lou Ruggieri

Who's Your Caddy?

When you think of a stereotypical old person driving a car, what kind of car comes to mind first? If you are anything like me, it might just be an older Cadillac.  Everyone had a grandparent, or knew of a grandparent, who owned a big boat Caddy for almost always the same reason:  "They don't make 'em like they used to."  The image of gray hair, wrinkled skin, and a slow and steady 15 mph under the speed limit has haunted Cadillac for years. Despite a couple half-hearted attempts at a youthful movement, like the 1987-1993 Allante or the Catera from 1997-2001, the company has been unsuccessful in changing its overall reputation and street cred.

All of that has begun to change, however, with the advent of Cadillac's V-Series. Unlike many of GM's marketing ploys over the years, all of the Vs has been real upgrades, modifications, and huge improvements that transform relatively mundane and comfy sedans into serious street performers. Much like BMW's M hot rods, Audi's S line, Mercedes' AMG,  and Jaguar's R line, Cadillac's V-Series gave the company entry into a very elite class of vehicles where buyers are concerned with two things:  Comfort and performance. The one problem Cadillac still had, though, was that other than XLR and XLR-V the entire Caddy were four door sedans. Again, this was leaving a lot of sales on the table for cars like the M3, RS4, XKR, and C63. That was, until the new CTS-V Coupe hits the showroom floor.

The CTS-V Coupe is Cadillac's first attempt at a performance coupe format, and is it ever ready to make a dent in the market. Starting with the traditional long hood, short deck premise, the CTS-V Coupe is all angles and wedges that come together in a very pleasing and powerful way. Its giant windshield—raked at a very laid-back Corvette-like 62.3 degrees—helps it get seen in rear view mirrors as almost all angry front end. Huge mesh openings on the front fascia serve a dual purpose. The first is to help designate the V from the lesser variant, and the second is to feed more air into the behemoth 6.2 liter Eaton supercharged LSA powerplant, borrowed, and slightly detuned, from the almighty ZR1. Helping to put down an unbelievable 556 horsepower and bulldozer-like 551 lb-ft of torque, will be buyer's choice of six speed transmissions: Either a traditional six-speed that is an exact copy of the Tremec-built TR6060 model in the ZR1 or a Hydra-Matic 6L90 six-speed automatic with paddle-shift control for those buyers that want a more European feel.

The V Coupe uses the same magnetorheological dampers as its Sedan sibling, but employs them on a more rigid chassis that is two inches shorter, an inch wider, and has a lower center of gravity. Combine that with huge Michelin Pilot Sport 2 summer tires and 19 inch wheels, and you have a Caddy that really zigs to the tune of 1.0g on the skidpad, in fact. But the V Coupe still retains its Cadillac comfort and style by using 14-way adjustable Recaro seats (with a new Saffron color option to add some color and contrast to the interior), herds of leather, a dash that is woven with a suede-esq microfiber, and a dual-mode Magnetic Ride Control to provide a supple arrival anywhere, even after a 180 mph sprint to get there.

Huge Brembo brakes that use six-piston fronts and four-piston rears help to rein in the enormous power this Caddy has. On the way back down from warp speed, our driver might take time to enjoy a dashboard that looks eerily (read: exactly) the same as the one in the V Sedan. It offers similar high-end perks like a 40 gigabyte hard drive, Bluetooth integration, a sweet Nav screen, and, of course, a thumping Bose stereo.

Seen as how the CTS-V sedan is currently the fastest production sedan on the planet, one would expect performance numbers on the lighter Coupe version to be equally, if not more impressive... And they are. Although not yet on the market, GM claims 0-60 times of 3.9 seconds, 0-100 in 8.8 seconds, and the 1/4 to flash by in a scorching 12.2@119.2mph. With the speed to keep up and blow by almost all of its competitors, the last number that counts is of course, price. The CTS-V coupe is set to hit dealers in August of this year with a sticker of around 60 grand. That matches the entry price for the M3, and undercuts all of the V Coupe's competitors anywhere from $5,000-$34,000.

So on paper, the V Coupe should be a shoe-in to dominate the market almost immediately, howeve, there is one thing that cannot be quantified and that is styling and appeal. The look of the car will be either its greatest strength or its greatest weakness. Muscular angles, huge intakes, and a third brake light/spoiler that looks like it could be at home as an Australian weapon than on a car make it less elegant and understated than its competitors, and as a result, far more polarizing. The V Coupe will be the center of attention everywhere it goes, and it will get more than a few conversations started whether it's pulling up to the country club valet, or getting out at the parking lot of 7-11. Only time will tell if those how those conversations will end.

One thing is for sure, though. The new CTS-V Coupe is doing what no other Caddy has done to date, and that is getting people to stop thinking that only older folks drive Cadillacs. This V-Coupe is fast, and anyone who sees it blow by at 100+ mph will realize that those old folks were right all along: They don't make 'em like they used to.

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