Review: 2012 Cadillac CTS-V Coupe

One of the best cars I have ever driven is the CTS-V Coupe. Which is funny because when I first saw photos of it, I assumed I wouldn’t like it at all. It just didn’t look right. How quickly I was proved wrong.

If Darth Vader had a daily driver, it would be the CTS-V Coupe. It’s simply bad-ass from every consideration. The car is nothing but right angles; there’s nothing Euro about it with all those crazy-looking lines. Yet they made it work really well. Even the paint job of the tester I received was incredible. It was Diamond Black and it has metal flake mixed in. It had so much “flake” to it that when the light hits it, it sparkles like a disco ball. I loved it. Top that off with black wheels, a black interior and faint blue LED lighting accents on and under the dash – the only other car with a similar lighting system such as this is a Maybach – and the finished visual affect is stunning.

Under the hood, you’ll find the same motor as ZR1 Corvette; a 6.2-liter supercharged LSA V8 that puts out a staggering 556 horsepower and an astonishing 551 lb-ft. of torque. It’ll rocket from zero to sixty in just under four seconds. If you’re considering buying a car of this caliber and performance, your competition is a BMW M5, or a Maserati GranTurismo. But at around $70,000, the CTS-V is $20,000 less than an M5, and nearly $50,000 less than a GranTurismo (and it’s got 100 more horsepower). Why would you buy either of those if this Caddy exists?

The power translates well. It throws you forward in a Bentley-esque fashion, whooshing you without making you feel like you’re doing anywhere near the speed you actually are. Every time I looked at the speedometer, I was at least 20 miles per hour faster than I thought. And despite the beast of an engine, I still managed a fuel economy of 19 miles-per-gallon, which wasn’t that bad.

Among the other brilliant things: the chassis is very bright and it’s got a lot of spring to it. It’s like a new pair of running sneakers; the seats were phenomenal. I had Alcora race seats, which were heated and cooled and weren’t the wide American couch-style seats most cars today come with. They keep you in really well; the computer system was the best I have ever seen. It was really easy to look at and the navigation warnings about traffic were always accurate.

Then there’s the transmission. I tested an automatic, though I always prefer a manual – which the CTS-V is available with. Typically, you lose a bit with an automatic in that there’s a second of hesitancy in the shift. Sure, you can put it in faux manual with paddle shifters, but that’s typically a horrible experience. It’s just pretending to be a manual. In the CTS-V, it’s not faking anything. It’s fully manual. It even does the rev-matching for you. It was perfect.

This is one of the few cars where I felt a compelling need to slide it around every corner. With the traction control half-disabled, you get the weight into the front of the car and it predictably slides out 20% before straightening itself out. Switch off traction control and it’ll hold that 20% angle for as long as you’d like. I turned onto a street in Lower Manhattan and drifted it for most of the block, and the car was very happy to do it. As was I.

In fact, the only complaint I have about it is that the brakes didn’t have the stopping power I felt they should. It’s got a multi-piston Brembo brake system, yet I would come up fast on a car on the highway and apply the brakes and not slow fast enough. I’d have to re-apply them to get my speed down.

During my time with the CTS-V, I wound up driving all over the Tri-State area and was shocked by how much attention it received, regardless of locale. Guys were giving me thumbs up in Long Island or I’d pull up at a gas station in New Jersey and groups of kids would gather around it, taking pictures and asking to climb in it. If you find yourself in the driver’s seat, just be prepared for the onslaught.

THE BASICS
Make: Cadillac
Model: CTS-V Coupe
Year: 2012
Base Price: $63,000
Engine: 6.2-liter supercharged LSA V8
Horsepower: 556@6100
Torque (lb-ft): 551@3800

THE MEASUREMENTS
Wheelbase:  113.4
Length (in.):  188.5
Width (in.):  74.1
Height (in.):  56.0
Curb Weight (lbs):  4,217

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