Every once in a while, an automaker comes out with a car that sticks out from the pack, and it might not even be due to an exceptional spec sheet. Sometimes, it’s solely about design and aesthetics. Sometimes it’s technology. Sometimes it’s just that X-factor; the thing you can’t exactly put your finger on as the reason the car moves you in a special way… a soul or personality, if you will. Then again, sometimes a car carries all of those characteristics. The Cadillac CTS-V Coupe is one of those cars, as it delivers on all of the aforementioned aspects with exclamation and outright ferocity.
Aggression Inside And Out
The appearance of the Cadillac CTS-V Coupe resides in the seventh circle of pissed-off, squeezed somewhere in between the Lamborghini Aventador and Batman’s Tumbler. Just take a glance and you’ll realize that the only rounded features of the V Coupe’s body are the wheel wells. Everything else is part F-22 stealth fighter and raw emotions. The center-mounted exhaust pipes alone resemble a set of 100 mm cannons, it’s just too bad nothing fires out of them. Yes, the butt looks a tad obtuse when looked at from straight on, and the belt line is a little high, but every other angle — especially from the three-quarter view — is absolutely striking.
To really bring out the visceral nature of the 2012 CTS-V Coupe — which starts at $65,390 — it’s gotta be in the right paint, and our tester’s $995 Thunder Grey hue was exactly that. The car’s aggression is only amplified by its $800 Graphite wheel package. Yes, you can get black 19-inch rims from the factory here, along with $595 yellow Brembo brake calipers. If only the Graphite package blacked out every last speck of chrome on the exterior, including the chrome grille… To me, the small amount of chrome feels out of place and clashes with the blackness of the wheels. Other color options for the otherwise stock Brembo calipers would be a plus as well. In total, our V Coupe was optioned out enough to cost $72,480. The sticker price straddles the lower-middle ground between the asking prices of the BMW M3, Mercedes-Benz C63 AMG and new M5.
Wonderfully, the V Coupe isn’t just all bark and no bite, as the car’s rakish looks and overall interior appointments seem to make an effort to shroud the crude, brash and infernal beast that is GM’s LSA V8 engine. Like its four and five-door stablemates, the LSA blesses the V Coupe with 556 horsepower and 550 pound-feet of torque, which is capable of powering the 4,209-pound machine from a standstill to 60 MPH in a blistering 3.9 seconds. And to accurately describe its exhaust note when the pedal was buried to the floor is how I imagine the sound of God sneezing. We’ll get more in depth on its performance in a minute. Right now, lets talk about the fit and finish of the cockpit.
The 14-way Recaro seats ($3,400) are easily the highlight of the cabin, and are complimented by the soft $300 sueded package around the steering wheel and shift knob. Together they give the cabin fantastic operating conditions for the driver and lucky front passenger. As for those in the back seat, they may not mind it so much if they are under 5’5″, otherwise their head will be touching the low roofline and/or rear windshield. The legroom isn’t half bad, though, and that’s because the coupe is based off the mid-sized Sigma rear-wheel drive architecture shared by its longer sedan and wagon siblings. Overall, the V Coupe is 188.5 inches long — about 4 inches shorter than the V Wagon; the two-door sports a wheelbase of 113.4 inches, a height of 58 inches, a rear track width of 62.8 inches, and a front track of 62 inches. Anyways, I was supposed to be talking about the cabin…
Aside from being driver-friendly, the interior of the V Coupe is also one of the most hushed, if not the quietest General Motors has on the market, with hardly anything breaching the vehicle’s thick interior walls. The pop-up navigation screen is a nice touch aesthetically, but the system itself hasn’t aged well. As this current model gets older, it will seemingly become more and more of a low-light, especially considering that less prestigious models like the Buick Regal GS sport a much better setup, not to mention seemingly higher quality buttons and such. However, the $600 Midnight Sapele wood package doesn’t come from a plastic tree, the vivid instrument panel stands out among the slight cabin crudeness, and the 10-speaker Bose 5.1 surround sound system absolutely rocks. Though I will continue to complain that a Heads Up Display isn’t available. Drivers shouldn’t have to bother taking their eyes off the road when piloting anything that moves this fast.
While GM may not have used the highest quality of materials for everything in the V’s interior design, the company held nothing back in the ride and handling department. For those forgetting, the four-door version was the first sedan to crack 8 minutes around the infamous Nürburgring, and was the fastest four-door in the world for a few years, until the new 2012 M5 gave the ‘Ring a run, which is said to be a few seconds faster around the track. That very same powertrain resides in the audacious V Coupe.
The only amenities our tester was missing were the complimentary saffron inserts in the interior, $700 tilt-only moon roof, and the limited-edition $4,850 Black Diamond paint, which provides extra sinister looks for an equally sinister premium (but nobody should complain, because if Audi, Mercedes or BMW did the same thing, they would probably be asking double the amount of coin for the same paint job. Real talk.)
An Alternative To Viagra
Driving the car was more than just a thrill. It was a power trip. The V’s war-mongering looks seemingly call out any other sports car on the road, while easily possessing the capability of being able to back up every last ounce of its gall. The experience is even better when wearing a suit. I felt like an Americanized Jason Statham from those Transporter movies — just with a Cadillac instead of an Audi. To top it all off, the ride and handling are on par with the sky-high power rating, and the Michelin Pilot Sport PS2 tires are practically cheater slicks that can pull nearly a full G force on the skidpad. The interior is as quiet as a tomb, and the Recaro seats will adjust to nearly anyone’s frame, while supporting them through pretty much anything that can be formed with pavement.
Despite the car’s credentials in refinement, it cradles a crude pushrod V8 with a supercharger, with only two valves per cylinder. None of that fancy DOHC, high compression ratio, 32-valve pish-posh to be found here. What GM did with the Cadillac CTS-V is essentially analogous to dressing a silver-back gorilla in an Armani suit… essentially. And if unapologetic performance is your aphrodisiac, then the CTS-V Coupe is Nirvana.
To say that the V Coupe’s Magnetic Ride Control (MRC) suspension system is amazing would be modest. To call it flabbergasting is more like it. By the push of a button, the car’s characteristics can vary between Sport mode, and the softer Touring mode. Play with the traction control settings, and you can keep all of the recommended nannies on; or enable Competetive Mode — which is not for amateurs, and you may find yourself in pieces if you’re not careful. Thankfully, the V Coupe will scoot around fairly predictably, if you don’t get carried away with the throttle around the bends. It’s power rating makes the back end quite tail happy, and will either frighten your soul or fill it with delight depending on the circumstance, or your skill level.
Give the CTS-V Coupe the chance, and it will give you the sensation of being pulled in a tractor beam. 60, 70, 80, 90… 100-plus mph, it just wants to keep going until it seemingly rips the space-time continuum, or 175 MPH (198 MPH with the manual transmission). Whichever comes first. Engineers also did a lot of work to muffle the exhaust note of the vehicle unless the throttle is pinned… though I kind of wish they held back a bit, as it would have made the experience that much more enjoyable. And even though our tester didn’t feature a third pedal, I was still able to manually select my gears thanks to the GM’s TAP-Shift setup. But with all of this power and its 4,200 lb.-plus curb weight comes a huge drawback. You’ve probably already guessed what that is.
With the automatic’s fuel economy rating of 12 MPG in the city and 18 MPG on the highway and a thirst for 93-octane, the car gets slammed with a $1,300 gas guzzler tax — right on the sticker. I will admit to going a little overboard by recording 1,350 miles on the car in one week, and $450 in fuel… in one week. The gas pump and I became familiar acquaintances, as did the employees at the local gas station, who clearly took me for somebody that recently won the lottery with the way I was spending money. But the way I was grinning every time I got behind the wheel, it was clear that I didn’t mind in the least.
The GM Authority Final Word
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: there isn’t anything in GM’s portfolio that brings together such a combination of performance, creature comforts and design that is displayed in the Cadillac CTS-V. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to perform one last burnout while blasting the Team America theme song.
- BMW M3
- BMW M6
- Audi RS5
- Mercedes-Benz C63 AMG
Why You Would Buy One
- This is probably the best all-around performance car you can find for the price
- 556 horsepower
- You really don’t need a reason to buy a car like this
Why You Wouldn’t
- You’re eyeing the new M6, M5 or M3
- You’d rather have the more practical CTS-V Sedan or V Wagon
- You’re holding out for the ATS-V
- Final Assembly Point: Lansing, MI Grand River Assembly Plant
- Engine: United States
- Transmission: United States
Photo Credit: Manoli Katakis, Steven Pham