2014 Cadillac CTS Vsport Review: Taking 'Ze Germans to Class
Meet the car that is putting European luxury brands on notice. The CTS is the vehicle that carried Cadillac into the 21st century, and the 2014 CTS is the latest amalgam of the brand’s technology, style, passion and performance. The new CTS luxury sedan continues all these traits, making it a serious competitor with the luxury saloons from ‘ze Germans. When the first-generation Cadillac CTS burst on to the scene for the 2002 model year, it was the refreshingly unorthodox luxury option. The second generation CTS moved closer to the mainstream– but in some cases the mainstream moved closer to the CTS. The sharp angles of the CTS had become more of the norm in the automotive landscape. For 2014, the CTS aims squarely at the import luxury establishment by building a sedan that has world class style, the available and the in-car tech to make it a more compelling option than its contemporaries. PHOTOS: See More of the 2014 Cadillac CTS Vsport
Cadillac’s design language is taken to new heights with the CTS, as the upright grille is flanked by the stretched back LED headlights. Those headlights cascade down into the LED fog light array that gives the impression that the entirety of both front corners are illuminated. The grille is capped off by the iconic crest and wreath emblem, which stands before some very compelling engine options.
PHOTOS: See more images of the 2014 Cadillac CTS Sport Wagon
The base engine is a 2.0-liter turbocharged inline four, and the next engine up is the venerable 3.6-liter V6, but the variant that concerns us today is the awesome Cadillac CTS Vsport.
Under the hood of the Vsport is a twin-turbocharged 3.6-liter V6, making 420 horsepower and a stout 430 pound feet of torque. Power is sent to the rear wheels through a slick-shifting ZF 8-speed automatic transmission. ZF builds some of the best performance automatics in the world, and the Vsport takes advantage of it with haste. Zero to sixty mph is dispensed with in just 4.6 seconds, and can take a turn like hell.
PHOTOS: See More of the 2014 Cadillac CTS Coupe
I was lucky enough to spend a few laps with the Vsport at Monticello Raceway in upstate New York– as well as some time on back roads. I was not ready for how capable the big Caddy sedan was on the track. The Vsport sits on Cadillac’s Magnetic Ride Control, which has been used by The CTS-V, Chevrolet Corvette, and has even been shopped out to folks like Ferrari. Like the transmission, the steering system comes from ZF, and is electronically assisted and speed-adaptive.
PHOTOS: See More of the 2014 Cadillac CTS-V Sedan
Combined with the big Brembo brakes, this thing is a scalpel on the track. You can lay into a long straight knowing the Vsport will throttle down well in the braking zones. You can apex late, trail brake and exit the turn full throttle, knowing the chassis will maintain composure.
Once off the track, drivers are treated to an artful interior loaded with advanced, yet practical technology. The driver’s eyes will be instantly drawn to the fully digital instrument panel. In standard configuration, it might have a traditional layout, but you can customize it via a toggle on the right side of the multifunction steering wheel. You can cycle through various modes for each of the three instrument zones. I particularly prefer the mode that presents the map from the navigation screen in a portal within the center speedometer.
All occupants can enjoy the vivid center touch screen, featuring the Cadillac User Experience (CUE). The user interface is very responsive, and is also customizable. In the home screen, you can drag the icons for audio, navigation, Pandora radio, settings and other programs around like icons on an iPad.
PHOTOS: See More of the 2014 Cadillac CTS-V Coupe
In several modes, including navigation and stereo screens, non-essential menus disappear after 15 or so seconds. The touch screen features a sensor that can determine when the driver’s hand is on its way back to operate the touch screen, and will bring the toggles back up on that map menu. It is a very simple, yet extremely effective method of providing the driver with the most crucial information at all times.
The Cadillac CTS Vsport starts at $59,995. A Vsport Premium starts at $69,995. A V8-powered BMW 550i costs more than the Vsport, has similar horsepower, and you have to shell out to get the kinds of creature comforts that are standard on the CTS Vsport. This new performance variant is aimed squarely at the V8 German sedans, but without the added weight of the extra two cylinders. The result is a world class sedan, with white knuckle performance and some of the most respected technology around– at the driver’s finger tips, and under the hood.
PHOTOS: See More of the 2014 Cadillac CTS-V Factory Race Car