The 2011 Cadillac CTS-V Coupe. “That’s A Cadillac?”
The question: What kind of car does it take to convince a busy, big-shot, world traveling attorney from the Northeast to catch the next flight to Texas just to go for a car ride?
The answer: A 2011 Cadillac CTS-V coupe.
What car comes to mind when you think about a coupe with 556 horsepower, 551 foot-pounds of torque, 0-60 mph in 3.9 seconds, ¼ mile in 12.3 seconds and an electronically limited top speed of 175 mph? Probably not a Cadillac, until now.
The 2011 CTS-V coupe is based on the CTS coupe that we drove a few months ago, and enjoyed. Rather than rewriting that review, this review will focus mainly on what the extra letter added to the name means – and it means a lot.
Our journey began in Houston, on a Friday afternoon in rush hour. Houston rush hour is like any large city’s rush hour – only worse. Like most cars with navigation, for safety reasons, the system will not allow destination entries to be made while the car is traveling over a certain speed, usually 5 miles per hour. Annoyingly, the slow pace of this traffic was only one or two miles per hour faster than the touch screen navigation would allow for our destination to be input. Out of frustration, the attorney gave up on entering our destination (at this point he was appointed navigator), turned his attention outside the car and began to take note of how many people around us were noticing the CTS-V. While stuck in traffic, the V was getting double and triple takes, nods of approval, thumbs-up, camera-phone pictures and later in our journey it even received a round of applause.
With the addition of a better looking front bumper, a raised hood to accommodate the giant engine and two huge exhaust pipes, Cadillac has made the CTS-V coupe look absolutely menacing – they have taken the coupe from looking like a futuristic concept car to making it look muscular and fast, even when parked (or in our case, barely moving). To add to the menacing look of the V coupe, our test vehicle came equipped with the optional 19 inch black wheels with yellow brake calipers that prompted more than one admirer to say “that’s a Cadillac?”.
Just as insanity, that can only be brought on by sitting in traffic while at the wheel of a 556 horsepower sports coupe, began to set in, the traffic cleared and we were presented with a magnificent view – an open road. The CTS-V coupe was designed for high speed driving and even tested on the Nuremburg ring, so this was going to be fun. We switched the Passport 8500 radar/laser detector back on and I finally got the opportunity to demonstrate to the attorney that his costly last minute plane ticket was about more than just the opportunity to listen to his favorite music at an obnoxiously loud volume. He had heard me (maybe not, the 10-speaker system was seriously being tested) talk about the 6.2 liter supercharged V8 that is derived from the same engine in the Corvette ZR1, the different suspension settings available, the different transmission settings available and the speed the V was capable of. But now – now it was time to demonstrate.
Speed on an open road can really only be measured by the speedometer, because other than the needle sweeping across the numbers, there is little else within the car that will notify your senses that you are exceeding recommended speeds. At any speed, the V coupe feels extremely planted thanks in part to its Magnetic Ride Control (MRC), which is haled as being the world fastest reacting suspension. Adding to the stability, surprisingly enough, the oversized third brake light mounted on the trunk lid was designed to create rear down force at high speed – we can report its function over form design does create an impressive amount of down force.
Although we lost valuable daylight to the Houston rush hour, we made up for it on the open roads, leaving us with enough light to explore some of the more exciting hill and canyon roads that the Texas hill country has to offer. Curved roads that went around, down, over and up hillsides really showed us the CTS-V coupe handled just as well as it could go blistering fast in a straight line. The optional Recaro seats with suede inserts held us firmly planted while laptop bags and cameras were less than fortunate on the winding roads. Any understeer detected in the curves could easily be countered by applying more throttle to create controllable oversteer and instant tire smoke thanks to the 551 foot pounds of torque and a transmission, that was never caught off guard.
Our test car came equipped with an automatic six-speed transmission. Initially, we were very disappointed our car did not have the true six-speed manual gear box, but our disappointment was short lived. The optional automatic transmission in the CTS-V coupe is not a typical automatic. Amazingly, it has been proven to outperform the manual transmission that is standard in the V coupe. Under heavy acceleration, you hardly notice the upshifts – they are that quick and that smooth and downshifts are equally impressive. Aside from missing out on feeling more connected with a car when manually shifting gears, our single complaint about the V’s automatic transmission is the shift buttons on the backside of the steering wheel. The buttons provided little feedback as to if one had been pressed or not and their location left us constantly trying to avoid pressing one in error. The game of “don’t press a shift button in error” became more of a challenge as we carved hillside roads and switchbacks surrounding Austin. If the shift buttons were turned into actual paddles they would be more enjoyable and useful.
After completing an exciting demonstration day, which contained several instances where I thought to myself “at least my attorney is here”, we arrived at our downtown Austin hotel. We (or should I say, the CTS-V coupe) were greeted warmly by four or five valets who clearly knew about the V coupe and were jockeying for position to be the one who gets to “park” the car. As a former valet, I understand the importance of building a friendship with the one who is about to drive off in your car, so we stood around and answered all the questions the guys had, plus a few additional ones from other hotels guests. Out of curiosity, I asked the valets “What’s the best car that has come through today?” to which they responded “This one!”. They went on to elaborate that even though the Maserati’s and a few of the Mercedes-Benz that they recently parked were more expensive, “…this CTS-V would smoke them”. I agreed and bid them a good evening, knowing the V was in good hands and that I wisely brought the car in with such little fuel it would deter even the most mischievous valet from taking it around the block a couple extra times.
The next few legs of our journey were a mix of back roads leading to twisted roads leading to straight roads, which eventually led us back to Houston. Along the way, we appreciated all the power of the V and we really appreciated all the power without absence of creature comforts – touch screen navigation, satellite radio, air-conditioned seats, relatively little road noise and the one thing that did not stand out at all, until we thought about it – hardly any exhaust noise that you would expect from a 556 horsepower car.
Cadillac estimates fuel economy of 12 mpg within the city and 18 mpg on the freeway. We do not doubt Cadillac’s estimate of 12 mpg within the city, but we are certain to achieve that number you would be having a lot less fun than we had. After a little over 800 miles of spirited driving, we averaged 14.5 mpg which seems low, but if you are in the market for a $70,000 sports coupe that superbly combines high performance and luxury, we bet 14.5 mpg will not be a deal breaker.
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