It’s really a four-door Z06 Corvette blogs intrepid road tester, Dan Scanlan.
True the ‘19 Cadillac CTS-V has the heart of a Corvette Z06 under that carbon-fiber-vented hood – a supercharged aluminum 6.2-liter V-8 with 640 horsepower and 630 pound-feet of torque, with alas, only a paddle-shift eight-speed automatic. There’s no manual transmission option unfortunately. But when a car that holds four adults also holds the road like glue en route to 60 mph in 3.7 seconds, with a digital speedometer that reads up to the speed Cadillac says it can do – 200 mph – call the CTS-V anything you want!
Cadillac took a page from Germany’s uber-sedans, stuffing a hi-po V-8 and even a manual transmission into its luxurious interior, then working some suspension magic. They even made a coupe and wagon version. And they raced it – multiple SCCA World Challenge Series manufacturer’s championships. These days, a version of the supercharged 6.2-liter V-8 in our car powers the championship-winning Cadillac DPi-V.R prototype racecar. The street car’s 1.7-liter supercharger is compact, smaller rotors spinning fast, forced induction handled by Rotocast A356T6 aluminum cylinder heads that handle heat better, joined with lightweight titanium intake valves.
Tap the start button and our metallic gray sedan’s quad exhaust literally bark before the CTS-V settles into a lumpy idle with a lot of fan noise to start. Our test car was brand new, 500 miles on the clock. Set the car in “Touring” and it’s quick – 60 mph in 4.4 seconds with rear wheelspin on full thrust. Hit “Sport” mode for more throttle, engine response and fast shifts, and the rear Michelins spin and grab, then spin again into second gear to hit 60 mph in 3.8 seconds, and 100 mph in just under 8 seconds – controlled ferocity. Stability control lets its rears spin just enough, then kicks in if it wiggles a bit out of line.
To compare, the first-generation 2005 CTS-V with 400 horsepower hit 60-mph in 4.8; a second-gen in 2009 had 556-horsepower and did it in 4.5. The latest CTS-V responds quickly to demands to pass, clean and quick downshifts with a throttle blip, exhaust bellowing before supercharger whine takes over. There’s a “Track” mode for when you do want minimal stability control. There’s launch control for controlled burnouts, but still traction galore in “Sport.” But in two weeks, we went through four tanks of premium with an average of below 14 mpg.
The sedan sits on P265/35R19-inch front/wider P295/30ZR19-inch rear Michelin Pilot Super Sport summer-only tires backed up by a revised multi-link double-pivot MacPherson-strut front/independent five-link rear suspension with stiffer bushings, new cradle mounts, higher-rate springs and a stiffer stabilizer bar. It all gets third-generation Magnetic Ride Control that Cadillac said “reads” the road a thousand times per second, stiffening magneto-rheological fluid-filled dampers with 40-percent faster response than in the past. With added structural work like a shock tower brace over the engine, plus new higher-rate springs and a stiffer stabilizer bar, there’s 20-percent greater roll stiffness.
The driver can select Touring, Sport, Snow and Track engine/suspension/shift modes. Touring is fine for daily running, a firm yet supple suspension that soaks up bumps without wallow, and quick enough rebound control as well as communicative steering and quick throttle response. But my favorite was Sport, which firmed up suspension response, ironing out bumps with fast yet buffered rebound and steering feel. The car arced through expressway ramps as if on rails, almost no body-roll. When it came to really twisty roads, the CTS-V just cornered without drama and barely any understeer. The electronic limited-slip differential helped direct power where needed for corner exit acceleration, and we could let some power oversteer in for fun, so easy to catch by pedal and steering before stability control kicked in. Our car routinely displayed a 1-G in turns, once showing 1.07 Gs on a 90-degree corner as it hung on without issue. This 4,141-pound sports sedan just plays beautifully at the limit, supremely agile yet willing to power wag its tail on demand.
The brake system, with six-piston Brembo calipers and 15.3-inch discs in front and 14.3-inch discs in back with four-piston calipers, had superb pedal feel. It had great control with straight stops from high speeds with no fade. And the ZF electric power steering, with 14-percent greater stiffness, was precise, direct and full of feel through that meaty steering wheel. It felt like a car much lighter, dancing so well on any curve with a catch-able rear end. Over our two-week test, I grinned every time I took a turn or passed anything except a gas station!
Outside, a stunningly aggressive-looking pewter silver third generation CTS-V, a totally redone body introduced in 2017 with more precise angles, high-tech light blade headlight and taillights and the most aggressive rubber and aero package ever. The only V-6 CTS body panels remaining are roof and doors. The wide V-shaped chrome mesh plastic grille lives over deep lower intake. LED headlights bend into turns. The hood’s power bulge is slashed by exposed carbon fiber weave vents pulling hot air out of the engine and reducing lift at speed by channeling air over the top of car. A carbon fiber lower air dam cleaves the wind.
Gold-painted Brembo brake calipers and huge discs are visible though lightweight, forged aluminum wheels with 10 polished alloy-finish blades accented with Midnight Silver painted pockets. Functional mesh vents slit the fender with chrome Cadillac “VSport” emblems. The rounded roofline flows into a fastback rear window and short decklid with tall carbon fiber spoiler fit enough to handle airflow off a Trans Am racecar. The faceted bumper gets a carbon fiber lower fascia with big quad stainless steel-tipped exhausts framing aero splitters.
Overall, it’s got flowing sharp lines with a tight and muscular shape, a touch more aggressive looking than its immediate competitor, the 707-horsepower Dodge Charger Hellcat.
Inside, the basic CTS interior flows with hand-stitched leather and suede, slashes of buff-finish carbon fiber circling the cabin with some recognizable GM switches and the familiar-yet-funky CUE-haptic-feedback touch buttons and touchscreen. Seriously bolstered Recaro buckets seats up front work well to hold you in with 16-way power adjustments, plus power upper and lower bolsters. The chunky stitched leather-clad steering wheel power tilts and telescopes, with long alloy paddle shifters in back.
Straight ahead, a configurable digital gauge package that can be set in Balanced, Enhanced or V Performance modes, all offering fuel, stereo or performance displays in either outboard display, plus a lateral G-force meter. Center stack, a higher resolution CUE touchscreen integrates climate, audio, phone and more detailed navigation as well as Apple CarPlay and Android Auto to link smartphones to car. The Wi-Fi hotspot can connect up to seven mobile devices, while Bluetooth can hook up two smartphones. There’s a Performance Data Recorder to record driving experiences, cabin audio and performance data for display on the screen when parked, or saved to an SD card to view elsewhere.
The center screen’s gloss black panel has alloy accents to guide fingers, power opening to reveal an inductive smartphone charger. All the buttons are fiddly at best and don’t often work first time. The rear-view mirror can be flipped for a widescreen video display from a rear bumper-cam. The seat bottom buzzes to let you know you are close to things when you back up or pull into tight spots. There’s also self-parking. The head-up display is easy to see, offering speed, sweep tach, navigation and more. Back seat room is OK for two adults. The trunk has plenty of room. One note – some real wind noise from the right front window, and tire noise.
A base CTS-V is $86,495 with most of what our test car had except: $2,500 Luxury Package with split-folding rear seat, tri-zone climate control, rear power sunshade and manual side shades; $6,250 carbon fiber interior and exterior package; $900 19-inch alloy wheels with summer Michelin Pilots; $1,295 carbon fiber engine cover, $595 gold Brembo calipers; and $2,300 16-way power front seats for a total $101,330.
I loved it – make mine black, and hand over the gas credit card!
For more information about the latest CTS-V, please visit https://www.cadillac.com/v-series/cts-v-sedan