The Cadillac CTS-V is a vehicle in the same company as the Mercedes E-Class and BMW 5-Series. Although it has American roots, it has proven itself on the Nuremburg Ring as one of the finest-handling vehicles in the world. Unfortunately, its price tag is also out-of-this-world. Luckily Cadillac offers the CTS V-Sport that offers most of the pleasure and performance without the lofty price tag.
The CTS-V gets its boogie from a big-mutha V8 and supercharger system. The V-Sport uses a twin-turbo V6. Anyone who thinks that turbos and six-cylinder engines can’t outperform a typical V8 just need to ask their local Nissan Skyline, Toyota Supra or Buick Grand National owner. The V6 power is delivered to the rear wheels through an 8-Speed Hydra-Matic transmission. Usually I am not a big fan of paddle shifters. After all, if the transmission is automatic, shouldn’t the technology within deliver the best shift points based on throttle input and vehicle speed? Usually that is the case, but Cadillac fitted the wheel with two machined aluminum paddles that click with the precision of a fine firearm. Whoa, who knew this level of quality could be achieved by GM?
The V-Sport is swathed in Alcantara. From the steering wheel to the shifter to the headliner, the synthetic material is everywhere. Luckily it classes up the place nicely. So does the low-gloss carbon fiber applications on the dashboard. One thing that feels a bit out of place in a Caddy are the Recaro sport seats. They really fit the gestalt of the Corvette brand, not necessarily a Cadillac. Although they are excellent, they are almost too sporty. Luckily adjusting the bolstering and lumbar support can be achieved through the CUE system. A pictogram on the screen shows what areas of the seats are being tweaked which is very helpful with so many available adjustments.
And onto the updated CUE system. Yes it works better and now it finally understands navigation inputs! Just tell the Cadillac the address you want to go to in plain English. CUE processes it and ultimately comes up with the right destination nine times out of ten. Which for an OEM navigation system is pretty good. Nothing can be more frustrating than having to pull over to enter a destination. The only niggle that remains from the older CUE system is the volume slide control. It seems to work better with new software, but most of the time I found myself defaulting to the hard buttons on the steering wheel. Give us a knob!
On the audio front, CUE is hooked into Bose speakers and amplifiers in the V-Sport. Unfortunately, this isn’t the excellent Panaray system available in some Cadillacs. We are seriously lacking in the imaging and lower-midbass departments. No worries for a talented aftermarket installer. The system can be cleaned up using DSP tuning. Add a good set of component speakers up front and a subwoofer out back and the audio performance will trump the vehicle performance.
Safety wise, parking assist was on my test vehicle along with adaptive cruise control. The heads-up display feature is a nicety that helps keep your eyes on the road while displaying critical information in different colors right in your field of view. Surprisingly Cadillac’s Super Cruise is not available on the CTS – you have to step up to the flagship CT6. Which goes to show you that the CTS was Cadillac’s technology flagship only a few short years ago. Now it has become the midsize offering. But what makes it tantalizing are the magnificent powerplants available, even when compared to Germany’s finest. If a CTS-V is out of reach, the V-Sport is the next best thing. Besides, $25,000 in savings can buy a lot of technology, a turbo upgrade, and a performance suspension that can put the original V to shame. V-Sport to victory!