First Drive: 2004 Cadillac CTS-V

Discussion in 'OT Driven' started by TriShield, Oct 16, 2003.

  1. TriShield

    TriShield Super Moderator® Super Moderator

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    Euro Beater

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    By D. John Booth
    Date Posted 10-14-2003

    What's gotten into Cadillac, I don't know.

    After years of spineless denial, corporate vacillation and engineering apathy, the once (and possibly future?) standard of the world is again a force to be reckoned with.

    What caused Cadillac's reawakening, I have no idea. When you can count Cimarron, Allante and the Catera amongst your numerous flops, pinpointing the day that GM's luxury brand finally said "enough is enough" and decided to get back in the business of building world-class cars is difficult. But indeed, it has done just that.

    The CTS, for all the press about its avant-garde styling, has sold well. The recently released top-of-the-line XLR convertible is indeed in the same league as the best from Mercedes and Jaguar. And the company's new SRX luxury sport-ute may prove to be a grand-slam home run in a segment already replete with big hitters.

    If you need further proof that Cadillac is serious about competing head-to-head with the Europeans, then you're going to be amazed at its latest audacity. Targeting quite possibly the luxury segment's strongest franchise, BMW's incomparable M3, the CTS-V is what five short years ago would have been unthinkable — a luxury performance sedan from the company that invented the tail fin.

    The CTS-V comes by its new performance status honestly, Cadillac having liberated the latest-generation 5.7-liter V8 from Chevrolet's mondo-rapid Z06. In CTS-V guise, the LS-6 small block generates a full 400 horsepower, a number that towers over the M3 and is virtually identical to BMW's top-of-the-line M GmbH product, the M5.

    Cadillac claims a 4.6-second 0-to-60-mph time which is entirely believable considering the way that the LS-6's 395 lb-ft of torque is transmitted through the Tremec six-speed manual transmission, also sourced from the Z06. Even the top gears fail to blunt its thrust and on Road America's long back straight, the CTS-V hit the same top speed as this editor attained on the same track just two months ago on a two-wheeled superbike. Cadillac boasts that the CTS-V tops out at an autobahn-devouring 163 miles per hour, again superior to the BMW numbers, but in this case because the German company chooses to electronically limit its cars to 156. In any case, hopefully the message is clear. This isn't just another GM marketing maven's sports car, dressed up in faux ground effects and some racing stripes. The CTS-V is a ground-pounding, asphalt-melting sport sedan with performance equal to the best in this land or any other.

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    Stomach-wrenching acceleration is to be expected when you combine 400 hp and the CTS-V's light-for-a-big-sedan 3,847 pounds, just 338 (of which the bigger motor accounts for 62 pounds and the more robust transmission a further 60) more than the base 3.2 V6. What was far less expected was the big V8's sophistication relative to its application in the Corvette. Prior to my hot laps around Wisconsin's Road America, I expected the CTS-V's turn of speed to be accompanied by the Z06's NVH — loud intake roar, valve clatter and a general rumbling not befitting a luxury sedan. In fact, I fully expected to be disappointed that the company hadn't chosen a hot-rodded version of its refined Northstar double overhead cam V8 instead of the Corvette's pushrod lump (Cadillac claims that the LS-6 was chosen because the Northstar was too big to fit in the CTS' engine bay, originally designed for a V6).

    In fact, there was nothing to be disappointed about. Indeed, Cadillac has exorcised almost all of cacophony, thanks to a stiffer engine cradle, optimal engine mounting and low-impedance gusseting. Even if I don't quite understand how such small changes make such a large difference, I can certainly appreciate its effect as the overhead valve LS-6, in this guise at least, feels as sophisticated as the competition's double overhead cam designs.

    Surprisingly, the CTS' rear-wheel-drive chassis didn't need much reinforcement to handle all the extra power. Other than a bolt-in shock tower brace to allow more linear steering input as the big 245/45ZR18 Goodyear Eagle run-flats bite the tarmac, little chassis-stiffening is needed to cope with the CTS-V's new turn of speed.

    Of course, the tuning of the various chassis bits has radically changed. Spring rates are up 27 percent all round and the stabilizer bars are 3.6mm (front) and 3.0mm (rear) thicker than on the standard item, with firmer damping at all four corners and Nivomat self-leveling rear shocks at the rear. And the addition of the bigger engine and sturdier transmission has only transferred about two percentage points of the car's weight balance forward (it now stands at about 54/46 front to rear).

    All of which adds up to a car that handles like no Cadillac before it. More softly suspended than the M3 (and you really notice its more comfortable ride on the street), the CTS-V was nonetheless fully capable on the ultrahigh-speed corners of Road America, with body control easily the equal of, and probably superior to, Audi's S4 and Mercedes' C32 AMG. Steering response is very linear, body roll well contained (especially at the front) and grip prodigious.

    In fact, Cadillac is so proud of its accomplishments in this last regard that the CTS-V is the first car with a built-in "g" meter to measure lateral acceleration (one wag redlined it a 1.0 at Road America, an incredible number). Another piece of electronic trickery, this again liberated from the Corvette Z06, is the CTS-V's advanced vehicle stability control system with GM's unique Competition Mode. Press the steering-wheel-mounted traction control button twice within five seconds and the CTS-V's advanced chassis computer will let you hang the rear end out under power until it determines you are well and truly out of control. Hold the same button for more than five seconds and it won't interfere at all.

    Harnessing all the engine's newfound power is a set of the biggest brakes on any sedan with massive 355mm front discs gripped by Brembo four-piston calipers. The rears are even larger at 365mm, and, surprisingly, they too have four-piston calipers. Despite Road America's extended straightaways being punctuated by tight hairpins, there was no fade, though admittedly the brake pad dust did soil the gleam of the CTS-V's 18-inch alloys.

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    In fact, there's absolutely nothing to fault about the CTS-V's comportment. You have to look inside the cabin for that. Based on a fully loaded CTS, the V adds sport seats with more side bolstering, a tacked-on scuff plate and some new, and much needed, gauges. Unfortunately, the same questionable plastic surfaces remain and stand out more now that the V's MSRP stretches to $49,995. The dash's material looks like that in the latest Accord, but the more expensive Cadillac can't match the Honda for the soft, tactile feel of its interior materials. Ditto for the center stack which still needs upgrading if Cadillac wants to take on the Euros (especially Audi) on an even footing. None of which changes the fact that the CTS-V is, and by some margin, the best car I've tested wearing any GM logo. It's also more than capable of competing with the established Euro sedans. On an even footing, no excuses needed.

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  2. tim122576

    tim122576 Active Member

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  3. MiseryIndex

    MiseryIndex i never know why. i only know who. Moderator

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  4. BLKDVLGSX

    BLKDVLGSX OT Supporter

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    there was one driving around my town last weekend along with the new sporty SUV they have :eek3:
     
  5. SaintGRW

    SaintGRW OT Supporter

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  6. o.negative

    o.negative OT Supporter

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    one of the few domestics that i WOULD buy.

    considering if i had the money of course :hs:
     
  7. Read more...

    Read more... SPQR

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    that was pretty in depth
     
  8. BLoG

    BLoG Scented Meat

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    new hotness.

    I can't imagine getting one in anything but black.
     
  9. Mag Master 21

    Mag Master 21 OT Supporter

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    My good friends father owns Martin Cadilac, the second biggest dealership in the country. He gets in all the prototypes to test drive, and we all get to rip in them. The V-series will be no exception...

    We already have torn to shit several XLRs (in the summer).
     
  10. smell my finger

    smell my finger strive nonetheless towards beauty and truth,

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    on sale yet ? :hs:
     
  11. F=ma

    F=ma Guest

    Pics of your sister NOW
     
  12. KDubb

    KDubb everyday I'm hustlin'

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    Daddy like


    Daddy like alot
     
  13. TripleFive

    TripleFive Someone Sell Me A Porsche! OT Supporter

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  14. LEGbEND

    LEGbEND .

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    itd be cool if they can bring cadillac back to the classic standing that it once had. :cool:
     
  15. F=ma

    F=ma Guest

    Good god, do they expect you to get Departmet of Defense Top Secret Security Clearance just to turn off the fucking traction control? If they didn't want you to hit it accidentally don't put it on the steering wheel.

    If you go up up down down left right left right b a start, then you can engage the windshield wipers :ugh:


    lol j/k
     
  16. iZero

    iZero Guest

    GM believes in electronic nannies more than it does its owners. Then again, considering your typical GM owner...
     
  17. kaldurak

    kaldurak Gimme some sugar baby.

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  18. Bernout

    Bernout OT Supporter

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    ATTN: 2DR Vette

    Get this and change your S/N back to 4DR Vette

    :cool:
     
  19. Dhan

    Dhan OT Supporter

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    wow, thats pretty nice
     
  20. TriShield

    TriShield Super Moderator® Super Moderator

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    I've got dibs on that name. :o
     
  21. Bernout

    Bernout OT Supporter

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    Oh come on you guys. All you gotta do is hold it down for 5 seconds and its turned off.

    Look at the Porsche Turbo if you want a nanny. Turn off the traction control, but the instant you touch the brake pedal it comes back on, no control over that. So much for applying throttle while left-foot braking on the track. :rolleyes:
     
  22. Bernout

    Bernout OT Supporter

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    :cool:
     
  23. El Slotho

    El Slotho Every hour wounds. The last one kills.

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    I want one so God damn bad. How can you not?
     
  24. ill_take_one

    ill_take_one Guest

  25. B17A

    B17A Now with more ///M

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    One of the few domestics that I'd consider owning. :cool:
     

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