C&D Road Test - Cadillac CTS-V vs BMW M3 vs BMW M5

Discussion in 'OT Driven' started by TriShield, Feb 17, 2004.

  1. TriShield

    TriShield Super Moderator® Super Moderator

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    Is Cadillac's bad boy really a Bimmer beater?

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    BY TONY SWAN
    March 2004

    At a glance, this probably looks like an odd grouping for a comparison test. There's a good reason for this. By our standard comparison-test parameters, it is an odd grouping—if we were actually doing a standard comparison test, that is.

    One car is short a couple of doors. Another is no longer in production and cost some $23,000 more than either of the others. Ordinarily, we try to round up rides that are similar in concept, performance potential, and price. But with this trio, the only inescapable commonality is that they all aspire to be "ultimate driving machines."

    Two of these cars were built by the company that coined the slogan. The other is one of several that purport to meet ultimate driving standards. BMW is in the enviable position of setting the pace in the world of sports sedans, which means any manufacturer seeking prominence in this demanding realm measures its products against those wearing the blue-and-white propeller badge. We could do no better than to use the same yardsticks.

    Tuned on Germany's treacherous Nürburgring racetrack—the unforgiving development crucible employed by BMW, Porsche, and AMG, to name just a few—the Cadillac CTS-V is clearly the most ambitious effort General Motors has made to produce a sports sedan credible by BMW standards.

    Did the Cadillac kids hit the 10 ring? Last year's Nürburgring preview of this Cadillac (September 2003) certainly seemed to suggest a serious contender had been created. But we were shown pre-production development cars, and the program didn't allow our formal testing procedures. This time around we put our hands on a sure-'nuff production sample, albeit an early one. So we rounded up the brace of Bimmers—an M3 from our friends at BMW of North America and, since BMW NA was fresh out, an M5 from our friend Dave Wexall.

    In addition to several Wendy's franchises, Wexall owns a BMW 330i cabriolet and a Ferrari 512BB, but he loves his "M car," as he calls it, best. We promised we'd be gentle, but Wexall wasn't really mollified until we also promised to replace the M's tires at the conclusion of the test. He's seen our act before.

    With the preliminaries settled, including instrumented braking, skidpad, and straight-line acceleration, we saddled up and headed south—three jet-black bullets rumbling through the mists of a dank November morning. Not ideal for evaluating performance cars, but we had high hopes for the next day's visit to Putnam Park, a beautiful 1.77-mile road course about 20 miles west of Indianapolis. And from a performance point of view, we were counting on Putnam Park to provide the definitive story.

    Aberrations

    Before we get into the play-by-play, we must report some idiosyncrasies in our Cadillac test car, all of which affected the testing. For example, we discovered a slow leak in the left front tire, which probably took a point or two off the Caddy's skidpad performance. Once we became aware of this problem, the digital readouts of Cadillac's excellent tire-pressure monitoring system made it easy to keep track of the condition of the suspect donut, but like most slow leaks, it picked up speed and, as a result, limited our driving time.

    Another problem turned out to be virtual. After a few laps on the Putnam Park road circuit, long before the track had dried enough for us to turn meaningful lap times, the Caddy began reporting high oil temps. When the pavement dried, allowing go-for-it driving, we were unable to make more than two consecutive circuits before the display numbers soared north of 300 degrees Fahrenheit, accompanied by an insistent chime.

    We were baffled. On the one hand, even with Mobil 1 synthetic in the sump, oil-related instrument readings are hard to ignore. Imagine Lindbergh, after noting low oil pressure as he sat on that Long Island runway, deciding to take off for Paris anyway. Also, when we popped the hood, the oil level was down almost a quart, and there was a hint of that used-up-lubricant smell we associate with engines whose hearts have ceased to beat. On the other hand, our man Csere experienced nothing of this sort during his Nürburgring preview driving, and we saw no corresponding increase in coolant temps.

    Nevertheless, since we wanted the Caddy to survive the Putnam runs, we were cautious, limiting our lapping and short-shifting to keep the revs down. We feel certain a little more driving with a little less constraint would have produced better lap times

    Later, Cadillac engineer Ken Morris explained that the oil-temp monitor in this car is new and has presented some software-calibration challenges. The first 50 cars off the line have exhibited the same problem. It would have been helpful to have known this going into the test.

    The third problem we encountered was axle tramp, also known as wheel hop, during hard acceleration from a standing start, and it's one that can't be explained away so easily. Morris notes that with a judicious combination of clutch slip and wheelspin, GM development engineers have finessed 0-to-60 runs in the 4.5- and 4.6-second realm, which is pretty much what we anticipated with this car's Corvette powertrain. Unfortunately, we hadn't been to the GM school of CTS-V launch technique, so our efforts were rewarded by rear-wheel hop, with severity in direct proportion to the level of aggression employed to get the car out of the blocks. It soon became clear that further runs were likely to bring the test to a premature end, whereupon we left off.

    The result was a disappointing 0-to-60 time—5.2 seconds versus the 4.7 seconds we estimated in September. And although we believe Cadillac engineers when they say they've found ways to drive around this phenomenon, we also believe that CTS-V owners attempting to extract the best 0-to-60 times from their cars are likely to become intimately acquainted with differential replacement costs.

    By the Numbers

    As noted, the Caddy's sprints were not up to our expectations, and this applies to more than the 0-to-60 numbers. Despite the launch limitations, with the most potent power-to-weight ratio in the group and the shortest final drive, the CTS-V should have begun to assert itself once it got out of the starting gate. That was not the case. Although it was quicker than the M3 to 100 and 140, the Cadillac trailed the M5 in every acceleration category, and its 13.7-second elapsed time through the quarter was the slowest of the trio (the Caddy's trap speed was 107 mph compared with 106 for both the M3 and M5). In our September preview, we cited Cadillac's forecast of quarter-miles in the low-13-second range, with a trap speed of about 110 mph.

    We were also a little mystified by the skipad test results. The Caddy's 245/ 45ZR-18 Goodyear Eagle F1 Supercar EMT tires provided a bit less rear footprint than that of either of the BMWs, although it put up the best skidpad number, 0.90 g. But could that leaky left front have diluted the result? When we took a closer look at the skidpad times, we noticed a bigger-than-usual disparity between the counterclockwise and clockwise times, so it's a possibility. The tire-pressure monitor doesn't preempt other dashboard readouts until at least one tire is below 24 psi (or above 42), and since we set pressures before heading out to the test track, we weren't aware of the problem until the following day.

    We don't think the leak had much effect on the braking numbers. The Cadillac was third among three, requiring 165 feet to stop from 70 mph, a foot longer than the M5, four feet longer than the M3, which weighs in 555 pounds lighter. Nevertheless, 165 feet is a sports-car number, and the CTS-V had distinctly better pedal feel than the M5.

    Still, the objective test results suggest that Cadillac didn't hit its development targets quite as squarely as hoped.

    Public Roads

    Racetrack development notwithstanding, sports sedans have to provide driving pleasure across a broad range of categories—from something as simple as the feel and function of controls and switches to how well the seats accommodate their occupants in all kinds of driving to driver sightlines to ride quality to exhaust note. In this purely subjective realm, the CTS-V fared reasonably well against the Bavarians, a little soft in some areas, but superior in others.

    For example, in a ride-and-handling round-robin tour of our 10Best test loop, the Cadillac's rather aggressive suspension tuning trailed the more supple M5 in ride quality but wasn't as hard-edged as the M3. On the other hand, we rated its steering feel and response on a par with the BMWs', and we were impressed with the high threshold of Cadillac's stability-control system—much more willing to allow a little sliding than that of either BMW, and much less intrusive when it did intervene. We were even more impressed that GM allows the option of shutting down the system.

    Certainly, there's more to public-road driving than max cornering speeds and late braking. And in the realm of livability, the Cadillac gives a very good account of itself. The front buckets don't offer quite as much lateral support as the M5's, but their range of adjustability is good, and if they give anything away in terms of all-around comfort, the distinction is academic. The M3's seats, in contrast, reflect the sportier nature of the car—almost raceworthy, but difficult to adjust and even harder to achieve long-distance comfort. We could wish that the Cadillac's steering column had a telescope feature as well as tilt, but no one reported any difficulties with achieving an optimal driving position.

    Our one dynamic gripe: the shifting of the six-speed manual transmission. We called it "rubbery" in our September report. GM responded by tightening the action but went a bit too far, rendering the shifting a tad too stiff.would also be much happier if the engineering team had eliminated the low-rpm one-to-four upshift, a sop to fuel economy that's been an irritating Corvette feature for so long.

    terms of general comfort and self-indulgence, the CTS-V is a clear winner. It's roomier than the M5, particularly in the rear, the electroluminescent instruments look good and scan better, the interior styling looks more contemporary than the aging BMW layouts, and the Caddy's potent audio system makes the BMW units sound very ordinary indeed.

    [​IMG]

    Putnam Park

    Would racetrack development yield superior racetrack performance? Our expectations were for exactly that, but as noted, we encountered limitations that diluted the Caddy's act on the undulating Putnam layout, a beautifully conceived collection of varying curves, several of them linked, with a long front straight to give horsepower a workout.

    To limit oil-temp-readout hysterics, we tried short-shifting the Caddy at 5500 rpm, well below the 6000-rpm horsepower peak, figuring the 5.7's edge in torque would cover for not using all the revs. And we limited consecutive hot laps to two, allowing the Caddy to cool off for about 15 minutes between runs. The net of this is that we posted just four go-for-it laps.

    For all that, Putnam provided the information we wanted.

    To no one's surprise, the M3 emerged as the athlete of the trio. The combination of its tidier dimensions, stiffer suspension tuning, and quarter-ton less mass easily offset the disparities in horsepower and torque versus the bigger cars.

    As the track dried, the M3's logbook became sprinkled with rapturous reports from the test crew. "Such a sweetheart around the track," wrote one. "So composed, so balanced, so eager," rhapsodized another.

    The smaller Bimmer's responses were quicker in abrupt transitions, its balance allowed easily controlled drifts off fast apexes, and its lighter weight made for quicker corner exits. Beyond that, the M3's seat bolsters were by far the best for keeping the driver centered during hard thrashing. We were a little surprised to encounter lengthy stopping distances a couple times during the track work—"Brake fade can be achieved," reported one tester—but the bottom line was no surprise at all: The M3 is much better suited to racetrack exercise than its bigger cousin, and it posted the best lap time of the day at 1:24.471 (75.4 mph).

    The M5's racetrack behavior, in contrast, could be characterized as dignified. Bigger and heavier than its feisty cousin—and also 46 pounds heavier than the Cadillac—it was a little slower on turn-in, a little more inclined to body roll, a little more reluctant in transitions, a little more deliberate on corner exits. On the other hand, the logbook was full of praise for its predictability and versatility.

    One tester summarized the M5 as a "perfect all-arounder." Another extolled its "fluid" behavior: "So smooth, so progressive, just melts into understeer or oversteer, depending on your right foot. No drama, no white knuckles."

    And that list of "littles"—turn-in, body roll, etc.—didn't hold the M5 back all that much. Despite a rather long brake pedal, something we've noted in other M5s, the senior M car recorded a best lap just a second slower than the M3: 1:25.493 (74.5 mph).

    Compared with the Bavarians, the track performance of the CTS-V came across as edgier and less refined, although just as eager. Transitions felt more abrupt, particularly compared with the M5, and the action of the brakes felt a bit grabby, particularly with the first hard application when the rotors and pads had cooled off.

    "It's harder to achieve oneness with this car," observed one tester.

    Nevertheless, the Cadillac's steering was gratifyingly precise. It turned in like Marshall Faulk cutting for the goal line, and if its weight transfer wasn't quite as smoothly managed as the M5's, there wasn't a hint of reluctance in its transient responses. The CTS-V was also perfectly happy to provide the driver with as much oversteer as he wanted. The breakaway might be a little more abrupt, but once rotation set in, it was easy enough to control with a judicious throttle foot.

    Throttle, of course, is one of the elements that helps to make the CTS-V a player in the supersedan derby. The small-block V-8's superb low-end thrust provides delicious visceral urgency to corner exits, as well as a brassy baritone aural accompaniment. So even though we weren't able to employ nearly as much throttle as we would have liked, and not nearly as often, the Cadillac's best lap—1:25.355 (74.7 mph)—edged the M5's by 0.138. And there's no doubt in the mind of the DL (designated lapper) that there was another second or so that we were unable to exploit. Perhaps even more.

    The Bottom Line . . .

    . . . is a key element in this evaluation. As tested, the M3 and the CTS-V are about the same in price, although substantially different in character. The smaller Bimmer is essentially a sports car with a cramped back seat, whereas the Cadillac offers sedan versatility and comfort to go with its muscle. It's hard to imagine that someone interested in one of them would seriously consider the other. Yet the CTS-V and the M5 are directly comparable in everything but price. Given even money, our test crew favored the M5. Then we asked ourselves the key question: Is the M5 almost $23,000 better than the Cadillac? We got a resounding no to that one.

    The CTS-V isn't perfect. Nevertheless, after a long succession of so-called Euro sedans that were exactly as European in character as Omaha, Cadillac has finally created one that can run with the autobahn crowd. It may not be the baddest bull in that herd, but it's got the right moves and the right stuff—plus that freshly creased look that's uniquely Cadillac—at the right price.

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    THE VERDICT

    [​IMG]

    Highs: Supersedan punch, knife-edge handling, lots of space, loaded with goodies.

    Lows: Tricky to launch, reluctant shifter.

    The Verdict: An all-American bahn stormer that's arguably the best buy in its class.


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    COUNTERPOINT

    DANIEL PUND
    Surely the example we drove was not yet fully baked, as it were. There was the little problem with the oil-temp sensor and a resistant shifter that could use a bit of last-minute tuning. But I cannot tell you how delighted I am to drive this car, how delighted I am that this car even exists. The basics of the car are so right. The engine is so brutally wonderful. The handling character is that of a clever delinquent—lively, wily, and never boring. And the wheels, the grilles, the body add-ons, and the contrasting stitching inside—all specific to the V—look the business. Raise your glass to never having to pretend the Catera is a legitimate sports sedan ever again!

    CSABA CSERE
    It's hard not to be pumped by this new CTS-V. I first drove it last June on Germany's Nürburgring, where it displayed confidence-inspiring stability, precise steering, powerful brakes, and enough playful oversteer at the limit to keep you plenty amused. I fretted that the taut suspension would prove unyielding on the pockmarked pavement back home, but the CTS-V turns out to be surprisingly supple and livable in Michigan. It could stand a slicker shifter, a richer interior, and less off-the-line wheel hop, but if you've been waiting for a solid American entry that can challenge the Germans in the patrician sports-sedan class, your wait is over.

    AARON ROBINSON
    Watch out, children, fusty old GM is raising hell. The power is loud, violent, and addictive. The steering is sharp, the suspension is in control, and the brakes are a strain on tendons. You touch bliss in a drift out of an apex, the grille pointing where your right foot aims it. Holy Saint Herman of Alaska—the traction-control-disable button is right there on the steering wheel! You can boot GM's lawyers out of the car with one thumb flick. No need to, though, since the computer allows lots of sideways horseplay before it intervenes. Straight-line acceleration is crimped by spasmodic axle hop, and the chintzy interior (pre-Lutz) should be shoveled. But GM's being bad is really quite good.

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    C/D TEST RESULTS

    ACCELERATION: Seconds
    Zero to 30 mph: 2.2
    40 mph: 2.9
    50 mph: 4.3
    60 mph: 5.2
    70 mph: 6.8
    80 mph: 8.2
    90 mph: 9.9
    100 mph: 12.2
    110 mph: 14.5
    120 mph: 17.1
    130 mph: 20.3
    140 mph: 25.5
    Street start, 5-60 mph: 5.7
    Top-gear acceleration, 30-50 mph: 10.3
    50-70 mph: 10.0
    Standing 1/4-mile: 13.7 sec @ 107 mph
    Top speed (drag limited): 163 mph


    BRAKING
    70-0 mph @ impending lockup: 165 ft

    HANDLING
    Roadholding, 300-ft-dia skidpad: 0.90 g
    Understeer: minimal


    PROJECTED FUEL ECONOMY
    EPA city driving: 16 mpg
    EPA highway driving: 25 mpg
    C/D-observed: 16 mpg

    INTERIOR SOUND LEVEL
    Idle: 50 dBA
    Full-throttle acceleration: 81 dBA
    70-mph cruising: 74 dBA

    CADILLAC CTS-V

    Vehicle type: front-engine, rear-wheel-drive, 5-passenger, 4-door sedan

    Price as tested: $51,195

    Price and option breakdown: base Cadillac CTS-V (includes $695 freight), $49,995; power sunroof, $1200

    Major standard accessories: power windows, seats, and locks; remote locking; A/C; cruise control; tilting steering wheel; rear defroster

    Sound system: Cadillac AM-FM-satellite radio/CD changer, 8 speakers

    ENGINE
    Type: V-8, aluminum block and heads
    Bore x stroke: 3.90 x 3.62 in, 99.0 x 92.0mm
    Displacement: 346 cu in, 5665cc
    Compression ratio: 10.5:1
    Fuel-delivery system: port injection
    Valve gear: pushrods, 2 valves per cylinder, hydraulic lifters
    Power (SAE net): 400 bhp @ 6000 rpm
    Torque (SAE net): 395 lb-ft @ 4800 rpm
    Redline: 6500 rpm


    DRIVETRAIN
    Transmission: 6-speed manual
    Final-drive ratio: 3.73:1, limited slip

    Gear - Ratio - Mph/1000 rpm - Max test speed
    I - 2.97 - 6.9 - 45 mph (6500 rpm)
    II - 2.07 - 9.9 - 65 mph (6500 rpm)
    III - 1.43 - 14.- 4 93 mph (6500 rpm)
    IV - 1.00 - 20.5 - 134 mph (6500 rpm)
    V - 0.84 - 24.5 - 159 mph (6500 rpm)
    VI - 0.56 - 30.7 - 163 mph (4450 rpm)

    DIMENSIONS
    Wheelbase: 115.2 in
    Track, front/rear: 62.0/62.3 in
    Length/width/height: 191.5/70.6/57.3 in
    Ground clearance: 6.4 in
    Drag area, Cd (0.35) x frontal area (24.3 sq ft, est): 8.51 sq ft
    Curb weight: 3949 lb
    Weight distribution, F/R: 54.4/45.6%

    Curb weight per horsepower: 9.9 lb
    Fuel capacity: 17.5 gal

    CHASSIS/BODY
    Type: unit construction
    Body material: welded steel stampings

    INTERIOR
    SAE volume, front seat: 54 cu ft
    rear seat: 43 cu ft
    luggage: 13 cu ft
    Front-seat adjustments: fore-and-aft, seatback angle, front height, rear height, lumbar support
    Restraint systems, front: manual 3-point belts; driver and passenger front, side, and curtain airbags
    rear: manual 3-point belts, curtain airbags

    SUSPENSION
    Front: ind, unequal-length control arms, coil springs, anti-roll bar
    Rear: ind; 1 lower control arm, 1 lateral link, 1 diagonal link, and 1 toe-control link per side; coil springs; anti-roll bar

    STEERING
    Type: rack-and-pinion with hydraulic power assist
    Steering ratio: 16.1:1
    Turns lock-to-lock: 3.4
    Turning circle curb-to-curb: 36.0 ft

    BRAKES
    Type: hydraulic with vacuum power assist and anti-lock control
    Front: 14.0 x 1.3-in vented disc
    Rear: 14.4 x 1.1-in vented disc


    WHEELS AND TIRES
    Wheel: size/type 8.5 x 18 in/cast aluminum
    Tires: Goodyear Eagle F1 Supercar, P245/45ZR-18
    Test inflation pressures, F/R: 30/30 psi
    Spare: none

    [​IMG]

    -----

    Car and Driver Preview

    Edmunds First Drive

    Top Gear Preview

    CTS-V WEBSITE

    CTS-V WALLPAPER
     
  2. BLoG

    BLoG Scented Meat

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    so it sucks at teh drag racing? :sad2:
     
  3. TriShield

    TriShield Super Moderator® Super Moderator

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    A member of LS1GTO just bought one and posted a few pictures. Insurance isn't bad either.
     
  4. TriShield

    TriShield Super Moderator® Super Moderator

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    Read it.

    They couldn't launch it.
     
  5. TriShield

    TriShield Super Moderator® Super Moderator

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    Basically their car had problems preventing them from taking it to the limit, and they even wrote there's a bit more potential to be had.

    More road tests will pop up, and we'll see what they get out of it.
     
  6. BLoG

    BLoG Scented Meat

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    Will it be available in an automatic?
     
  7. Lat

    Lat New Member

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    I want that Cadillac :cool:


    IBbmwnazis
     
  8. TriShield

    TriShield Super Moderator® Super Moderator

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    Six-speed or nothing.
     
  9. Sonic

    Sonic Live every day to the fullest, for yesterday is go

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    Well lets think about this. These people drive cars all day every day and launch cars like the C5/C6, Enzo, Mercialago and Viper. If they have trouble launching a 400 HP 13 second car, I blame the car and not the testing staff.

    Oh, and the ol thingy is priceless.:mamoru:


    Good car BTW.
     
  10. TriShield

    TriShield Super Moderator® Super Moderator

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    It's in their words. :mamoru:
     
  11. TriShield

    TriShield Super Moderator® Super Moderator

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    The next M5 will be $40k more instead of $20k more?


     
  12. 92Coupe

    92Coupe OU Still Sucks

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    Bad ass car, too bad it had a few bugs for the testing. :sad2:
     
  13. TriShield

    TriShield Super Moderator® Super Moderator

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    I'm out, enjoy yourselves lovers and haters.
     
  14. Shiva Chaos

    Shiva Chaos i see boobies!

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    is it just me or does the caddy's front fascia remind you of the subaru WRX bug eyes?
     
  15. mucky

    mucky .

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    :cool: car, but it has typical GM first year model run with LOTS of bugs. :hs:
     
  16. someguy

    someguy WWMD?

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    CTS-V is a cool car.

    Good value.
     
  17. Acura170hp

    Acura170hp Finally, i am a Somebody :)

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    i'd still take the M5 if i could afford it. but for 50K, i'd take a M3..
     
  18. Buzz Killington

    Buzz Killington nunc fortunatus sum

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    Page 1 of 10
     
  19. dmora

    dmora Guest

    GTO > CTSV :x:
     
  20. dmora

    dmora Guest

     
  21. BLoG

    BLoG Scented Meat

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    :sad2:

    CTS has a much stronger appearance, and doesn't weigh THAT much more. I'd take the CTSV 10 times out of 10
     
  22. Dr. Zoidberg

    Dr. Zoidberg the lovable tramp

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    :coold: I hope they take care of that wheel hop problem though :sad2:
     
  23. tekknikal

    tekknikal Nothing's ever been better than that

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    I hope they keep comparing the CTS-V to the M5 when the new M5 comes :x: It'll get its ass handed to it.

    The CTS-V is good for what it is, but its not the end-all be-all of luxury-sports sedans.
     
  24. German engineering > American

    It's that simple :hs:
     
  25. DeeVoc

    DeeVoc Heh.

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    I don't understand how something like "excessive wheel hop" can make it's way into a production sports car :ugh:
     

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