When I picked up the 2017 Cadillac CTS-V from the Roadshow garage, California was in the midst of a torrential downpour. No matter how many times I checked the weather, the result was the same: rain. Rain for days.
Keeping my foot off the accelerator of this supercharged beast was a study in restraint. I wanted so badly to rev the engine up to 7 grand, but with Michelin Pilot Super Sport summer tires and slippery, wet roads I had to put safety first. This car deserves respect.
The CTS-V shares its 6.2-liter V8 engine with the Corvette Z06, although it's tuned down slightly to 640 horsepower and 630 pound-feet of torque. Smaller numbers, sure but it's hardly a detriment. The engine delivers power smoothly to the rear wheels through an eight-speed automatic transmission, and the four driving modes and five levels of traction control make this Caddy one unbeatable super sedan.
It's always good when the default driving mode on a car is enjoyable. I didn't get the chance to try out the Snow mode, which dials down the torque, but Touring keeps the suspension at the softest setting, making short work of highway cruising and gentle sweepers. Dial it up in Sport and the car vigorously attacks corners with quicker steering, stiffer suspension, longer-held gears and sharper throttle response. Things get even more crisp with the ultimate Track mode, where five traction control settings range from "you still get some help" to "this back end gonna come around if you don't watch it."
While I wasn't able to take the CTS-V out on a track, the weather cleared up after a few days and I hit my favorite back roads. This Caddy is an eager and willing partner in shenanigans, attacking corners with abandon, the electronic limited-slip differential throwing power to the wheel with the most traction while the transmission shifts quickly to prepare for the turn exit.
Paddle shifters let me change gears manually, and I was pleased to find the transmission didn't step in and shift for me. Sadly, Cadillac doesn't offer the CTS-V with three pedals. If you want to row your own gears, you'll have to step down to the ATS-V.
Still, even the absence of a manual transmission can't dull the joy of driving the CTS-V, and a lot of that has to do with the Magnetic Ride Control. With this system, sensors monitor the road conditions 1,000 times a second, continually adapting the suspension for optimal control. This system keeps the car flat and settled through the corners, allowing for quick direction changes. It is truly one of my favorite things about the CTS-V.
And if you're a fan of straight-line blasts, the CTS-V does not disappoint. Cadillac claims a top speed of 200 mph and a zero-to-60 mph time of 3.7 seconds. It delivers power quickly and smoothly, begging the driver to go deeper on the pedal.
Although Cadillac tries to improve mileage through cylinder deactivation, the CTS-V only gets an EPA fuel rating of 14 miles per gallon in the city, 21 mpg on the highway, and 17 combined. Still, it didn't help me much as my real-world fuel economy was closer to 13 mpg.
Drive it on the daily
It may be track-ready, but Cadillac makes the CTS-V refined enough for daily use, especially in Touring mode. The supple suspension soaks up bumps and while the Recaro seats may be a bit narrow for the ample rear-ended, the adjustable lumbar support is a welcome addition.
There are a few driver's aids in the CTS-V. The blind-spot monitoring is helpful in monitoring the traffic around you and lane-keeping assist applies a gentle pull to the steering wheel should you drift out of place a bit. There is also a collision warning and even a following distance monitor that tells you how many seconds you are behind the car in front of you (although I'll admit, that's probably more of a track-focused feature).
However, the CTS-V lacks any kind of adaptive cruise control. Cadillac says the components for this system interfered with the airflow and cooling of the engine, and so were not included as to deliver consistent, reliable performance. I respect Cadillac's commitment to track-level success, but I wish adaptive cruise control were an option for those customers more focused on daily driving than track antics.
Inside, the cabin is driver-focused and well-appointed, its optional heated-Recaro seats including adjustable lumbar support, some carbon-fiber trim and a few cows' worth of leather. New for 2017, the Rear Camera Mirror displays a digital picture from the rear of the car. It's not very useful at night as oncoming headlights blow out the camera a bit, and the lens got fogged up with all the rain, but I liked having the extra wide-angle view without the obstruction of the rear seats and trunk lid.
The CUE infotainment system has a reputation for being a bit bothersome, and while it's gotten an update for 2017, it's still irksome. Most of my complaints stem from the center stack climate controls with haptic feedback. There doesn't seem to be any uniformity of pressure required to make them work. Sometimes a light touch is sufficient, other times I'm stabbing at it with an accusatory finger.
The eight-inch touchscreen, however, is excellent, accepting touch inputs and voice commands like a dream. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are both standard, as is the Teen Driver program, which reports your kid's driving behavior in case you're dumb enough to give them the keys to your six-figure sports sedan.
There is an even bigger 12-inch screen acting as a gauge cluster. It can be configured three different ways and offers up a whole host of information. Everything from daily driving information like trip computers, fuel economy and fluid levels to track-focused timer, g-force meter and tire temperature. Steering wheel buttons let me access all the screens, but the selector button is a little awkward, not offering a distinct click or any haptic feedback. Still, it's great to have all that information at your fingertips.
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And where would a CTS-V be without a performance data recorder? A front-facing camera records your antics and you can choose from informational overlays with steering angle, speed, location or revs. You can even record sound from inside the cabin. It's all stored on an SD-card and you can watch your track tomfoolery right from the car. Unfortunately, there is no way to upload video to social media, which in this connected world is a glaring omission.
The CTS-V goes up against stiff-suspensioned competition from the Germans. You could look to the Audi RS7, BMW M5 or Mercedes-Benz AMG E63 S for a dose of refined power, but the CTS-V is a bit more raw in its styling. It makes a bold statement on the road as the brash and loud American sports sedan.
But you'll need patience and a big bank account. Despite its starting price of $85,595, there is currently a wait-list for the 2017 Cadillac CTS-V. And if you want all the goodies like I had, including the Carbon Black package, Recaro seats and the Performance Data Recorder among other extras, be ready to shell out $103,360; a big price for some big-time badassery.