2016 CTS-V Not Yet the One–Two Punch Cadillac Envisioned: First Drive
Taking turn two at Willow Springs International Raceway at over 100 miles per hour sideways is, to say the least, exhilarating. The back straight on the track is dispatched in seconds, as the digital speedometer climbs well past 140 miles per hour. The bark of the exhaust as you downshift pulls you out of the warp tunnel you’ve been traveling in for the last few seconds. A stark difference to the experience of the Cadillac CTS-V I had just a single day before. I had been looking forward to getting the keys to the Cadillac CTS-V for a while. The seats look supple, the body lines look distinct, and the LT4 motor is touted as an unlimited tower of power. 640 horsepower in a Cadillac? Yes, please! Yet, as I was traveling down a long stretch of desert highway the day before, the car didn’t feel as I envisioned. It actually felt...slow. RELATED: Click Here For More Pictures of the 2016 Cadillac CTS-V
The Most Powerful Cadillac Ever?
It didn’t feel like it had 640 horsepower and 640 lb-ft of torque—more like 400-something horsepower. The car wasn’t the mad, fire-breathing behemoth everyone has made it out to be. It felt slower than the Charger Scat Pack I had just the week prior.
Suffice it to say, I was disheartened. This is supposed to be the Cadillac equivalent to Thor’s Hammer. It didn’t matter that the interior was plusher than I’ve seen in any Cadillac lately, or that the stereo was sublime. This car was meant to go fast, and it just wasn’t. Fast forward a single day, and that feeling was erased.
I don’t know what happened in those 24 hours, but staring down turn 1, the Cadillac came alive. The 640 horsepower of the LT4 motor barked, it bellowed, it lit the back tires up as if they were made of encapsulated smoke. The steering dynamic was properly weighted, it gave me the confidence to push the luxury sedan to preposterous limits.
There are two ways you can take a high-speed turn in the Cadillac CTS-V. The first, is using all four Michelin Pilot Super Sports to create monumental amounts of grip. The other is sideways with smoke pouring off the tail and the V8 howling. Both elicit smiles, but only the latter makes you cackle all the while.
While going through the turns, the seats in the Cadillac hug you perfectly. They don’t let you slosh around, or make you feel like you’re too squeezed in too tight. They’re just there to inspire confidence at farcical speeds, just like everything else on this car.
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Limp Mode Isn’t as Fun as Going Sideways
During a few session out on the track, like the day before, the car went into limp mode and didn’t provide all the power it was supposed to have. This has become a reoccurring theme with both the Corvette Z06 and the CTS-V.
The LT4 motor just doesn’t like heat, and it especially doesn’t like being driven hard. Something that is annoying given each car's power and handling capabilities. What’s interesting about this phenomenon is that the Cadillac should be immune from overheating due to its larger intercooler and massive front intakes. Yet, there I was, with the same issue.
As tested, the CTS-V costs a staggering $95,885. Granted, it had nearly $10,000 worth of options, but that is still a bitter pill to swallow when you’re looking at something that isn’t completely sorted. For almost $100,000, I’d like a car that works all the time, not just when it wants to.
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I’m not yet sold on the Cadillac CTS-V. On the track, when everything is working, the car is an animal, capable of turning thousands of dollars worth of tires to ash in a matter of seconds. The car is strikingly handsome and has an interior that leaves many of its competitors in the dust.
The problem though, is that it still feels like a beta test. It feels unfinished with the motor issues. It’s not the best GM can deliver, and GM has shown in the past that it can deliver a one two punch. This still feels like just the first jab. Once GM figures these issues out, the Cadillac will definitely be the world-beater the company envisioned.
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Engine: 6.2L Supercharged V8
0-60: 3.7 seconds
Price (base): $85,000
Capable when it wants to be
Isn't as fast as you think
LT4 needs to be refined
Doesn't feel finished