I'll just cut to the chase here: At 640 horsepower and 630 pound-feet of torque, the 2016 CTS-V sedan is the most powerful Cadillac ever produced.
At the heart of the matter is a 6.2-liter supercharged and direct-injected LT4 V-8 engine, the same engine that you'll find in abut with a wet-sump lubrication system rather than the 'Vette's dry-sump. The engine is force-fed air by a 1.7-liter Eaton supercharger; you can hear its high-pitched whine while under acceleration. Fun fact: it takes 55 horsepower just to spin the compressor, but it adds a net 220 ponies to the cast aluminum block's performance, so it's worth the small hit.
The force flows through an eight-speed Hydra-Matic automatic transmission that features sport and manual shift programs and can be controlled via paddle shifters on the steering wheel. The last stop before the rubber meets the road is an electronically controlled rear differential that directs the power to the rear wheels.
The baddie Caddy will hit 60 mph from a standing start in just 3.7 seconds, but it does so in one of the most terrifyingly abrupt ways I've ever experienced. Where other large sport sedans deliver a locomotive surge, the CTS-V unleashes a torrent of power. It's like being shot out of a cannon -- and nearly as loud. Give the V a long enough run-up and it will hit a top track speed of 200 mph.
The EPA reckons the Caddy will do about 14 city mpg and 21 highway mpg if you feed it premium fuel and go light on the pedal, but you'd have to be the most boring enthusiast on the planet to do so.
Unlike, say, the Challenger Hellcat, Cadillac wasn't content to just throw an overwhelmingly powerful engine into its CTS, call it good, and head to the pub. No, the CTS-V has been overhauled from nose to tail to also be one of the best handling cars in the brand's history.
It starts with the chassis, which is 20 percent stiffer than the standard CTS sedan's body thanks to a variety of braces, sheer panels and reinforcements added to the underbody, suspension mounting points, engine bay, bulkhead and more. Many of the squishy, rubber bushings in the CTS' suspension have been replaced with zero-play ball joints, which allows the components to move more accurately. The standard third-generation Magnetic Ride Control adaptive dampers respond to handling demands 40 percent faster than before.
The real world result is that the Cadillac CTS-V dances around bends and over winding roads with so much more agility than a car of this size should possess. Sure, Caddy's made efforts to keep the V's weight down -- including fitting it with a standard carbon-fiber hood -- but at the end of the day, this is a 4,100 pound greatsword that's as nimble as a fencer's foil.
And yet, it is quite comfortable when you're taking it easy. I wouldn't call it Benz comfy -- the Caddy's firm ride never lets you forget that it would rather be racing -- but refined enough that a significant other wouldn't complain. (Even the supportive Recaro seats were wide and comfy enough.)
Helping to customize and contain the Cadillac's performance and power are four drive modes that adjust the traction control, suspension and powertrain control systems. There's the restrained, high-traction Snow/Ice mode. My first outing was in the pouring rain, and after a few accidental fishtails, this mode helped me get acquainted with the car. There's also a baseline Touring mode, a more aggressive Sport mode, and finally a hardcore Track setting.
But that's just the beginning. While in track mode, toggling the traction control button and then the steering wheel controls reveals five more track programs that further fine-tune the performance for specific racing situations. There's a setting for a wet race track, three more progressively aggressive competition modes, and a final, "hold onto your hats" all systems off mode. And when in any of these race settings, the Cadillac gains launch control to help drivers get off the line as quickly as possible.