You know the game “sleep (insert crude synonym here), marry, kill”? You are given three names and you have to decide which one to sleep with them, which one to marry, and which one to kill? It’s a horrible game, but when you are bored and drunk with your friends it provides hours of entertainment and, oddly enough, somewhat educated debates. If that game were made for automobiles, it would be “rent, own, burn.” The choices are pretty straightforward; rent would probably be an exotic car or something that you had a poster of as a kid, own would be something you and your family would have to live with on a daily basis, burn is something you totally despise. Personally, I’d rent a McLaren P1, burn a Veloster, and make the practical lifetime choice of owning a CTS Vsport.
Out of all the cars that I have driven, whether they were for Car Fanatics Blog or not, I chose the Vsport as the car that I would most love to own. For those that have seen the vehicles I have driven and reviewed, or for those that know me personally, you know that this is a pretty serious claim. I was enamored with the 2014 CTS 3.6L that I drove earlier in the year, so naturally I was ecstatic to receive the Vsport. I won’t get into the gritty details of the differences between the Vsport and the run-of-the-mill CTS 3.6L that I reviewed, because the differences in appearance, inside and out, are virtually nonexistent.
My Red Obsession Tintcoat Vsport’s only difference (apart from the color) was the wheels, the larger brakes, and a small V badge on the trunk. These few subtleties are the only tell tail signs that this is not your run-of-the-mill CTS; as such, the car has the ultimate sleeper status. Instead of the carbon fiber finish in the interior, my test car came equipped with an unfinished-feel wood trim a la Audi, along with a Kona Brown leather interior with Jet Black Accents. The only piece of interior that lets you know the car is special is the V badge on the lower spoke of the steering wheel. Everything else is straight out of your “ordinary” CTS.
With this tester I noticed that I’ve grown to like the CUE system and the use of no buttons on the center stack. The response to user inputs has gotten considerably faster and now feels almost immediate. The voice recognition is still lagging: it takes time for the system to respond to voice commands, especially with navigation inputs and phone inputs. This was disappointing, but I was able to look past it for the most part because I was in a familiar part of Boston; that said, I can see how it would be frustrating to new users.
It is luxurious throughout and the material quality, fit, and finish is in the same league as the Germans.
I’ll stop droning on about the boring parts because let’s face it: you want to know how on God’s green earth I have given it such high praise. It’s actually quite simple: this Vsport is everything that I have ever wanted in a vehicle. Sure, this review is going to sound biased, but this car is really just that good. It is luxurious throughout and the material quality, fit, and finish is in the same league as the Germans. It is very comfortable for both driver and passenger, though I will admit it can be a little stiffer than rivals such as an E-Class. Still, the motions are very well controlled with virtually zero body roll.
The car is as quiet as a vault, and keeps the busy outside world just that . . . outside. Visibility is quite good to the side, as there are minimal blind spots, but the view through the back windshield may be tight for some. The rear bench is spacious enough for three people – though I’d recommend finding someone on the smaller side for the middle seat. The car eats up the highway with ease for those long trips that you may or may not take, yet it will also carve up any road you put it on should you get an urge to feed your wild side. Sure, it sounds dreamy and too real to be true, but it’s not: you are awake, and this car is real.
Steering is a big issue with enthusiasts these days. We rightfully complain ad nauseam about how cars these days have no feedback and are disconnected. Very few automakers approach steering well: I can think of two companies that are successful in this regard, while the rest . . . well, they suck, to put it bluntly. Thankfully, the helm in the Vsport breaks away from the norm of steering systems of today. You are treated to a decent amount of feedback and can feel some of the road imperfections jostling the steering wheel and letting you know that there is a connection. However, when you turn the wheel, it reverts back to the arcade-like feel of every other steering system on the market, though it is as close to natural as they come nowadays. The car is very easy to place, despite its size; keep in mind, this is a midsize luxury sedan with dimensions on par with Deutschland’s finest.
The Vsport’s stability is unlike anything else in that it is unwavering, no matter how bad the road gets.
The harder you drive it, the more it shrinks around you, providing you with the confidence to push it just a little bit more each time. That is a feat that very few sports cars can do and completely unheard of in all but the most unobtainable sedans. I accredit this to the electronic limited slip differential that “enhances capability on the track – including optimal acceleration out of turns” according to Cadillac. Helping the cause is great visibility out of the front and A-pillars that do not impede your vision of the next upcoming corner; topping it off, the turn in is precise and accurate. Press a few buttons to change the mode from the default Tour Mode to Sport or Track and things get a little stiffer and quicker. I didn’t venture too much into Sport and went into full blown Track and even turned off Traction Control for some good times but more on that later.
The suspension is an engineering marvel. If you don’t know what a magnetorheological shock can do, look it up because it is a thing of beauty. With four at each corner in constant communication with each other, the car is able to provide the best dampening and compression for any and all situations derived, using instantaneous calculations based on sensors that monitor road imperfections hundreds to thousands of times in per second. The Vsport’s stability is unlike anything else in that it is unwavering, no matter how bad the road gets. Undulations, imperfections, potholes, and surface changes all fail to upset the sweet responsive chassis. For those that do not know, the CTS chassis is a widened and elongated version of the fun and tossable ATS’s.
This sharing of platforms allows Cadillac to keep the weight of the CTS and the Vsport lighter than the competition which makes its dexterity possible; with the use of the ATS platform, the Vsport tips the scales at 4026 lbs. In Tour Mode things are on the softer side but very well controlled. In Sport, it gets stiffer, and in Track it goes to full blown stiffness that is still far from uncontrolled and harsh. You still have extremely well-controlled body motions and dampening, but cornering is virtually flat and the car gets sharper in its responses. Rather than destroying the road, like a GT-R, the Vsport flows down it much like a Miata (albeit a much larger one). The motions and movements are more finesse based off of instinct rather than calculated and measured, which makes driving the Vsport much more natural, and much more sublime.
Throttle response, pedal feel, and braking are, as you can probably already surmise, excellent. The Vsport has 13.6” front Brembo brakes that help put a stop to all manner of fun the moment you need it, with a firm pedal feel and instant response. You don’t have to have your leg travel far to get the calipers to exercise their vice like grip on the brake rotors. Throttle response is damn near instantaneous, and with power anywhere you need it, you are a few cm of pedal travel away from blowing the doors off slower traffic.
Rather than destroying the road, like a GT-R, the Vsport flows down it much like a Miata (albeit a much larger one).
Everything mentioned so far is forlorn without the proper power plant; it would be like a Philly cheese steak without the steak. Cadillac has served up an oddball here: most would expect a V-8, but it actually is a twin turbo 3.6L direct injected V-6. I’m sure some of you probably flipped a table upon reading that, but you won’t miss the V-8. The twin snail six is good for 420 horsepower at 5750 rpm with 430 lb.-ft. of torque at 3500 rpm. Torque is abundant and everywhere, in any rpm; the mill is strong and is happy to acquiesce to your demands at any moment. The engine is eager to race past its redline only to bang off of the rev limiter which makes one wonder what else was left on the table at Cadillac? Cadillac claims that the twin turbo six has “15 percent greater power density than BMW 525i’s turbocharged 3.0L or BMW 550i’s TwinPower 4.4L V-8;” now that is impressive.
The 8-speed automatic from ZF was an excellent choice for the Vsport. Delivering incredibly quick shifts in Sport or Track mode and perfectly rev matching downshifts brings out the Kimi Raikonnen in every driver. In Tour, the 8-speed shifts quickly and imperceptibly to give you the most comfort and the best fuel economy. In Sport or Track, the transmission can be left to shift itself but I find it more fun to press the “M” button on the shifter and slap the metal paddles on the steering wheel for the most enjoyment. The transmission will hold onto gears near or even past redline until you command it to do otherwise which is both a blessing and curse. Cadillac claims that the Vsport will hit 0-60 in 4.4 seconds but I wouldn’t be surprised if it was a couple ticks faster due to the nature of the power delivery and the shifting.
You wouldn’t expect a Cadillac to be able to do what the Vsport does, which is what makes this car such a pleasure.
The true beauty of this car is that it is a wolf in sheep’s clothing. You wouldn’t expect a Cadillac to be able to do what the Vsport does, which is what makes this car such a pleasure. Its submissive styling, along with the wreath and crest will make anyone just walk by without even thinking that this car will make your neighbor’s Corvette nervous. Turn off the Traction Control while in Track Mode, press the “M” button so that you can control the shitfing, leave it in first with your left foot firmly pressed down on the brake pedal, use your right foot to do what it does best, and enjoy. After you are done being a hooligan, put the car back in Tour Mode and drive off as if nothing ever happened; no one will ever suspect that those black marks on the road were from a Cadillac.
I have two pieces of press material that have conflicting numbers when it comes to fuel economy. The Monroney sticker says that the car’s EPA estimates stand at 16 mpg city and 24 mpg highway while the media information packet states that the car’s EPA estimates are 17 mpg city and 25 mpg highway. While a one number difference may seem trivial, it is a deciding factor for some buyers so I can only report on what I achieved. In my trip to Boston and back to Connecticut, I averaged 23.4 mpg while maintaining traffic speeds and even exceeding on a few occasions (okay, more than a few occasions) but still very respectful given the amount of luxury and athleticism packed into this car.
What of the price? Surely something this good must be unreachable? No. The standard vehicle price of the tester came in at $69,070.00. Add in our sole option of the Kona Brown w/ Jet Black Accents with Semi-Aniline Full Leather Seats for $1,650.00 and the $925.00 Destination Charge and you come out to $71,645.00. For everything that you get in this Cadillac, and for not sacrificing anything to the Germans in terms of materials, quality, fit, finish, power, etc., you can see why I swooned over this Vsport. Should you be in the market for a quality midsize performance sedan, you would be doing yourself a disservice if you overlooked this car. Cheers, Cadillac.
Should you be in the market for a quality midsize performance sedan, you would be doing yourself a disservice if you overlooked this car.
Oh, and just in case you were wondering, this is just a Vsport, not the V replacement. That will come out later and turn up the insanity. Stay tuned for that review.
Photo Credit: Cadillac