In the Flesh: 640-HP 2016 Cadillac CTS-V Sets the Performance Luxury Standard

Article by Rick Jensen (Turboguy). Photography by Ryan Randels (RockySDS).

With its in-the-sheetmetal reveal at the NAIAS, the 640-horsepower Cadillac CTS-V finally went from a "Yeah, but” car, to the long-sought "Standard of the World.”

The CTS-V line, now in its third generation, has had its fair share of criticism from the get-go. Ten years ago, the Cadillac team started from scratch to create the first-generation V, the 400-horse 2004 model. It was a powerful but flawed sedan, way too crude to match up with the refined machines from Europe.

The second-gen CTS-V was both stronger and more powerful, packing a supercharged, 556-horse V-8 and a more connected road feel. It was an amazingly improved car. Yeah, but it still slightly trailed the Germans in the all-important lap time and luxury feel departments.

Finally, for 2016, Cadillac said "No more,” and built its all-new giant killer from the ground up. And it is a superior example of American ingenuity that’s sure to give the Europeans fits.

The new V rides on GM’s solid Alpha platform, which also underpins the stiff, sporty CTS and ATS models. But for this 114.6-inch-wheelbase V, the chassis is even tighter: it is highly mass optimized for performance, and braced in the strut tower, engine compartment, rear cradle and bumper areas. The result is a 25-percent stiffer platform.

That stiffness beautifully complements the V’s track-honed suspension. It’s a MacPherson front, five-link rear setup that utilizes lightning-quick, third-gen Magnetic shocks. With 1,000 "reads” a second, these dampers know every inch of the road at 60 mph, and adjust 40 percent faster than the last generation. And if you’ve had the pleasure of experiencing the current magnetic ride system, you can only imagine how great this version will be.

The V’s front and rear footprints are wider than a standard CTS, which reduces body motion and improves steering feel to the electric ZF box. That big footprint—and the sticky 295/30ZR19 rear and 265/35ZR19 front Michelin Pilot Super Sport tires—lets this new CTS-V pull almost 1g in the turns.

Braking for those turns should be effortless: while this CTS-V didn’t get the ultra-cool ceramics optional on the new Z06, it sports a high-performance Brembo brake system that’ll be perfect for this mostly street-duty car. Up front, the huge, 15.3-inch rotor size isn’t the only neat trick: the two-piece rotors are lighter and dissipate heat better, and the staggered 6-piston calipers allow greater piston clamping force in high-stress situations. Out back, 4-piston calipers clamp down on 14.3-inch rotors. And they’re in full view under beautiful aluminum wheels measuring 19x 9.5-inch front, and 19x10-inch rear.

And let’s face it: the new CTS-V’s supercharged LT4 is a patriotic middle finger to those European blue bloods. That direct-injected V-8 routes its 640 horses and 630 pound-feet to a paddle-shifted 8-speed auto, then through an electronic limited slip diff. The 4,150-pound Cadillac is lighter and more powerful than Audi’s S8, BMW’s M5/M6 and Mercedes’ AMGs—including the S65’s 621-horse, bi-turbo V-12. With 3.7-second zero to 60 runs, mid-11-second quarter-miles and 200-mph top speeds, it awaits for those brave enough to hold the pedal down.

Throw in its carbon fiber-infused, aero-optimized body, its suede, microfiber and carbon fiber interior and its host of performance and convenience accouterments, and the CTS-V has truly become the world standard of high-performance luxury. No buts about it.

What kinds of power ratings will Ze Germans need to top this cruise-missile Caddy? Go WOT in the comments below.


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