Review: 2016 Cadillac CTS VSport
– Detroit, Michigan
Just a few years ago, this would’ve been one badass Cadillac. Powering Caddy’s ever more nimble CTS sedan with a twin-turbo 3.6-liter V6 to the tune of 420 horsepower and 430 pound-feet of torque would have drawn comparisons to the BMW M5 and its Nürburgring-running ilk. But circa 2016 – in the era of the heart-stopping, 640-hp CTS-V – this very capable CTS VSport almost flies under the performance sedan radar. Almost.
- The headliner turbo engine is good, but nowhere near as vicious as the V8 found in big brother CTS-V. There’s no lack of torque, but you do have to get the engine spinning beyond 3,000 rpm before it hits fully. That’s fine behavior for a feeling of omnipotence in typical highway traffic – jumping from 50 miles per hour to 80 seems to happen in an eye blink – but it doesn’t offer dramatic-feeling or -sounding acceleration from a start.
- Amongst the Motor1 staff I might be in the minority, but I really like GM’s eight-speed automatic transmission, especially in this car. When I feel like playing at being a GT driver, response from the paddle shifters is very quick (but not particularly visceral). In every automatic mode, kick-down happens immediately when I ask for it, and there’s not much hunting between gears in normal driving.
- The VSport comes standard with Cadillac’s electronic limited-slip differential, which kind of blows my mind. It’s harder to feel the effects of the diff when driving at legal speeds, but when you up the pace on a twisting road, and especially out of slow corners, the unit makes power delivery quite seamless. When I had a chance to really work out the CTS, I was happy to find it very willing to turn in, take a set, and take off with alacrity. Handing overall is very sharp, but without sacrificing ride quality.
- Yes, I’m from Michigan and I work in Detroit, so I’m biased, but I love the updated styling of this car. Especially in a vibrant color like the Red Obsession Tintcoat you see here, I just find Cadillac’s current design language to be more expressive and personal than most of the competitors (though Jag’s XF is lovely).
- Expressiveness is cool. Interiors with nine different kinds of leather, awash in shiny finishes are slightly less so, at least to my eyes. I like where Cadillac is going with its cabins, à-la the quietly posh execution in the new CT6, but this one still seems gaudy. Fiddly, gimmicky features like the automatic cover for the cupholders hardly seem worth the effort.
- Old-school shoppers might still better enjoy the V8 experience offered by competitors like the Lexus GS F and BMW 550i. Good as the 3.6TT is on paper, it doesn’t have a thrilling sound like an NA V8, or even the plateau of torque I’ve come to expect from turbo-powered engines.
- We’ll soon have a first steer to set the record straight, but I expect Mercedes’ upcoming E43 to be the VSport’s strongest competitor in this second-rung performance sedan class. That’s hardly a “con,” but the overall excellence of the CTS left me short one bullet point...
- Acura RLX Sport Hybrid SH-AWD
- Audi S6
- BMW 550i
- Infiniti Q70 5.6
- Jaguar XF S
- Lexus GS F
- Mercedes-AMG E43 (2017 model)
2016 CADILLAC CTS VSPORT PREMIUM
|ENGINE||Biturbocharged 3.6L V6|
|OUTPUT||420 Horsepower / 430 Pound-Feet|
|0-60 MPH||4.4 Seconds|
|TOP SPEED||172 MPH|
|EPA FUEL ECONOMY||16 City / 24 Highway / 19 Combined|
|CARGO VOLUME||13.7 Cubic Feet|
Photos: Seyth Miersma / Motor1.com