With its car-from-the-future design, you would expect the 2011 Cadillac CTS-V Coupe to be powered by a Mr. Fusion reactor. The CTS-V Coupe may not fly or run on banana peels, but its supercharged V-8 can surely get it to 88 mph faster than Doc Brown's DeLorean in "Back to the Future."
The CTS-V Coupe has dramatic features, taking Cadillac's angular styling language to an extreme degree. The fenders run forward with a bold, sharp crease, and are capped by vertical headlights. The roofline covers side window graphics so sharp you could slice tomatoes with them.
Rear pillars continue the CTS-V Coupe's geometry lesson, with flat strips bracketing the rear window and ending in the taillights, which fold up over the rear fenders. The design of the CTS-V Coupe suggests it could benefit from an anger management seminar.
The additional V appended to the model designation notes that this is the performance version of the standard. The V expresses itself with a wire grille and lower intake, along with colorful V badges around the car. CNET's car also came equipped with optional 19-inch wheels in black, revealing yellow brake calipers on the discs.
The standard CTS Coupe runs off a 3.6-liter V-6, which only barely does justice to the no-nonsense look of the car. With the CTS-V power train, it really earns its dramatic styling. With this sharp-edged design, you would expect the car to leave all others in clouds of its dust.
Similar to the CTS-V sedan and wagon, the CTS-V Coupe uses a supercharged 6.2-liter engine, producing so much torque that the car wants to slip and twist when powering off the line. It takes a gentler touch on the gas to achieve the best 60 mph acceleration time, as it is too easy to waste precious tenths while the wheels look for traction.
By the numbers, this engine produces 556 horsepower and 551 pound-feet of torque. GM says it takes the CTS-V Coupe to 60 mph in just 3.9 seconds, pushing into supercar territory. Under acceleration, the engine's roar is muted by Cadillac's luxury sound deadening in the cabin, but the whine of the supercharger comes through clearly.
Other numbers for the CTS-V Coupe are not as pleasing. Try 14 mpg city and 19 mpg highway, according to EPA testing. CNET's car turned in an average of 14.9 mpg over the course of mixed driving on freeways, city traffic, and on roads more appropriate for testing out the acceleration and handling.
The CTS-V Coupe can be had with a six-speed automatic transmission, but the six-speed manual is the only sane choice for a car with this kind of performance. Shifting feels a little rough, the linkage delivering a messy, mechanical feel, rather than the soft precision of a typical European manual transmission.
But the transmission is well geared for the tremendous power of the engine, making it possible to moderately accelerate from a city traffic light without attracting the attention of the local constabulary. Of course, 556 horsepower lets you choose just about any gear you want--fifth gear at 30 mph is perfectly reasonable in this car.
Another essential element of the CTS-V Coupe's performance equation is its magnetically controlled suspension. This ingenious bit of technology uses ferrous fluid in the shocks. When magnetic coils in the suspension activate, the fluid becomes more viscous. A computer in the car uses sensor data to constantly adjust the fluid viscosity individually at each wheel.
The result, when the transmission is in Sport mode, is amazingly good and controllable cornering, with virtually no body roll. The meaty tires grip the pavement as the car flips around apexes with race car rigidity. Driving over a section of undulating pavement, the suspension kept the tires in constant contact with the road. It didn't go airborne at each rise, nor did the body bounce up and down.