One Of This Years Most Memorable… Cadillac CTS-V Coupe

102_1477As 2012 draws to an end, I was looking back at what was the most memorable automotive experience from the last 12-months. While there were quite a few to pick from, the one I have talked about the most was being driven around Canadian Tire Motorsports Park (formerly known as Mosport) by the three-time Rolex 24-Hours at Daytona winner Andy Pilgrim (who has also won many other types of races in his impressive career).
Pilgrim was set to compete in the Pirelli World Challenge race at CTMP on a weekend back in June. His competition car for the last few years has been a Cadillac CTS-V coupe, but since he had crashed his race car that morning in practice (hence it was being rebuilt in the garage), he offered to take me out in the road-going version of the CTS-V coupe.
On paper, the road car should be faster, since it has 556-hp vs. 460-hp for the race car (the race car has to run restrictors to keep the power-to-weight ratio of all the racing cars about the same, to even out the competition), however the road car is much heavier than the race car, has less grip, and is not set-up to take on hours upon hours of abuse on a race track.
100_2573Still, the production CTS-V coupe is a very fast car, and a very fast driver was just about to take me out for a very fast lap. Was I scared? Just a tiny bit.
On this very challenging and hilly circuit, Pilgrim was a sensation. The speed he carried through all the corners was incredible and would hit the apex dead on every time (even when it looked like he was going to run wide and onto the grass).
Up to this point, I had a lot of respect for the CTS-V coupe, but getting a ride in it with Pilgrim at the wheel made me a fan. He certainly was able to show what this car is capable of doing and left me wanting for more seat time.
It took a few months, but this wish did eventually come true. In September, I got to spend a week with a CTS-V coupe. So did more time with it help me like it even more?
The very short answer is “YES.”
102_1482While I had driven the CTS-V on a few occasions in the past, they were all far too short, lasting just 15-minutes. Plus, the cars I had driven were used by Cadillac as part of their mall-tours or fleet shows and were all automatics. While the auto transmission is fine for most people, it certainly isn’t for me. The auto is too slow to respond to inputs and not very smooth when rushed. Thankfully, my tester for the week had a proper six-speed manual gearbox.
It might not be the slickest manual in the business but it is good enough, and only about a million-times more desirable than the automatic.
So I got the car with the right transmission, and it also had the right engine. While you can go out and buy a CTS coupe with a pedestrian  3.6-liter, V6 motor that produces 318-hp, but the one all car enthusiasts want is the CTS-V version.
102_1490This “V” version get’s a 6.2-liter, supercharged V8 that produces an incredible 556-hp. It’s got torque too, producing 551-lb/ft at just 3,800-rpm. Power is fed to just the rear wheels (no all-wheel drive option here), which as you can imagine can lead to some pretty exciting driving moments. However, if you keep its traction and stability control systems on, this car is as docile to putter around in as a Chevrolet Spark.
While the CTS-V is easy to drive around in the city, and its magnetic ride control allows you to have a very comfortable ride even on roads that are covered with bumps and potholes; what it really enjoys are smooth, open roads.
Find a safe area to stretch its legs and it will reward you with its stunning ability to gather speed. For those who crave for performance numbers, the CTS-V coupe can sprint from 0-100 km/h in just 4.2 seconds, and if you can find a runway long enough, it can reach a genuine 300 km/h. This is a properly quick car.
It sounds good too. It is not the loudest V8 on the planet, but certainly voices its aggression when provoked.
My only driving complaint with this car is regarding its steering feel. While this fully-independently sprung coupe has a good chassis and handles quite well, the steering feels a bit too light and dull in comparison. A switchable variable effort steering rack (like the ones found in the new Hyundai Santa Fe and Elantra GT) would fix this issue in my opinion.
102_1483As for the interior, it needs no fixing. Everything looks and feels great, and it has all the right kinds of toys. Plus, the Recaro seats, which in my tester were part leather and part suede, are just wonderful. They hold you in place when cornering and offer you great comfort when you’re just cruising on the highway.
The CTS-V coupe is an excellent car to cover distances in, because it offers practicality (even the rear seats are somewhat usable, plus the trunk is huge for a car like this), with comfort and speed, but it does have a drinking habit. In my week, I averaged just 16.5-liters/100km, which when you factor in only premium fuel means it’ll cost you a lot to go anywhere. In the city, in stop and go traffic, it was averaging 23.7-liters/100km (Ouch!) when I was driving, so it is expensive to run.
It’s not cheap to buy either, base price for the CTS-V coupe is $72,600. This kind of money buys you many impressive European super-coupes like the BMW M3 and the Audi RS5, both of which are better driver’s cars and can match the CTS-V’s performance numbers with less horsepower. If you want the most powerful car for your bucks, the 2013 Ford Mustang Shelby GT500 has quite a lot more power, and costs quite a bit less.
102_1474But here’s the thing, the CTS-V is a much more refined car compared to the GT500, which is honestly a one trick pony – it’s fast, but not comfortable, and not forgiving.
And while the German coupes have the speed, combined with technology and driveability, they lack the visual presence of the Caddi-coupe.
The CTS-V coupe might not be perfect, but it is perfectly fine just the way it is, and hence that is why this car takes the prize for my most memorable of the year.

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