The outrageous new CTS-V is a Cadillac complete with chrome grille, flamboyant tail-lights, a rear window raked to letterbox-slot dimensions and a steering wheel and gearknob sheathed in suede. It’s outrageous, yes, although modestly so next to some of Cadillac’s more extravagant creations, and a follow-up to the previous, well-meant but troubled CTS-V saloon.
What’s not modest, however, is 556bhp of supercharged 6.2-litre V8 that sits beneath the bonnet of the coupe, saloon and Sport Wagon variants of the car, and a chassis said to have been pummelled into shape by months of lapping around the Nürburgring. And the word from the far side of the Atlantic is that this CTS-V really does deliver.
Get past the wide-opening, frameless doors, with their hidden touch-pad releases, snuggle into a deep-walled Recaro, loose off the starter and clasp that wheel as you hear the V8 pulse into life. It doesn’t sound like Detroit performance iron; there’s a beat, but it’s not window-rattling. You grasp that gearlever connected to the six-speed manual ’box (there is, of course, an automatic version, too), feel heavy-metal precision as first is engaged, let out the clutch and… within yards you know that this car is serious. There’s no rubbery twist in the torque-tensed driveline, no creak from the shell or its fittings, and the ride feels promisingly muscular without turning turbulent.
The first clear bend, and it’s wet; you tickle the throttle and feel the rear end spasm like a hose twitching with pressure. The traction control neatly checks the torque – all 551lb ft of it – and the CTS-V holds its line, surging forward as traction is restored.
No point in tramping the throttle in wet bends. Instead, enjoy the precision of the steering, its subtle feel and the Cadillac’s surprising composure over bumps.
This suspension compresses and stretches with a supple firmness that should produce fewer reasons to slow over British B-roads. Rear-end grip may be precipitous in these conditions – although it’s likely to be transformed on a dry road – but this car could go wheel to wheel with a BMW M6 and not be instantly outclassed. It’s certainly entertaining.
The weighty, measured and robust controls feel like they’ve been honed by those laps of the ’Ring, the 6.2-litre Corvette V8 burbles with subtle, free-revving urgency, and the whole car has an aura of refinement that pleasingly counterbalances the Caddy’s scenery-ripping capabilities.
Flaws? Most obvious is left-hand drive (and the V’s obstructing brake booster makes a conversion to right-hand drive too expensive to contemplate). Then there’s just a single, Manchester-based dealer – GM North America expert Bauer Millett – followed by a headroom-deprived back seat whose access is rendered hazardous by the trip-wire front seatbelts. And not to mention a prodigious thirst that will ensure a growing familiarity with your local petrol station’s forecourt.
Others may find the CTS-V coupé’s admirably bold style a bit much, but it certainly adds to its strong character. The interior is more conventional, but it’s well finished, neatly detailed, comfortable and impressively quiet at a cruise.
Cadillac describes its styling as a blend of art and science; this CTS-V adds muscle to the mix, and a thick slice of entertainment too. A shame it will stay rare.