Hottest Caddy in history gets 550bhp, magnetic dampers and launch control
11 January 2008

These are the first official pictures of a car that, motor industry commentators say, represents the first genuine American threat to the eminence of the European super-saloon: this is the new Cadillac CTS-V. And it’s even faster, more powerful and more sophisticated than we were expecting.General Motors released photographs and information on this, the most powerful Cadillac it has ever made, yesterday, ahead of its unveiling at the Detroit motor show on Monday. The release came as a surprise, as advance speculation on this car has given it anything from the Corvette Z06’s 7.0-litre V8 to full-time four-wheel drive. As it turns out, the real thing will have neither.

Mega-Caddy gets cooler Corvette ZR1 V8

Powering the new CTS-V is a slightly detuned version of the 620bhp 6.2-litre LS9 supercharged V8 that powers the new Corvette ZR1 ‘Blue Devil’. With a slightly lower-pressure Eaton supercharged and some slightly milder engine internals, the CTS-V’s LSA V8 produces 550bhp at 6200rpm and 550lb ft at 4000rpm. Of the established European super saloon elite, only Audi’s V10-engined RS6 can trump those outputs.Contrary to information Autocar had heard, the CTS-V’s power finds its way to the road via the real wheels only (so there’s no bar to right-hand drive production). However, General Motors has fitted the car with what it calls Performance Traction Management (PTM), which is effectively launch control, and works via metering out appropriate levels of torque to the rear wheels during full bore starts, rather than by reigning in wheel spin using the brakes. When conditions are right, GM claims the new CTS-V should crack 0-60mph in 4.5sec and 0-100mph in less than 10sec; it remains to be seen whether it will be limited to 155mph, or allowed to romp on to 200mph and beyond. One thing's for sure: more Nurburgring chassis testing has gone into this CTS-V than any previous one - we've got the video to prove it - so it should be more of a match for the likes of the BMW M5 and Mercedes E63 AMG from a handling perspective than hot Caddys of the past.

Magnetic dampers; Michelin rubber; stealthy makeover

Other technical highlights on this new CTS-V include GM’s Magnetic Ride Control, which adapt the car’s damper rates by electrifying the reactive oil in the dampers themselves. It will have two static settings – Tour and Sport – but will also adapt the car’s dynamics on the fly to combat body roll, and to boost body control on bucking surfaces.The CTS-V will run on 19in alloy wheels wrapped in Michelin Pilot Sport II rubber. Braking is performed by Brembo six piston callipers up front, and four-piston grabbers at the back, and the transmission options are a six-speed manual and a six-speed automatic gearbox.And the car’s visual makeover is muscular, but not overblown. Deeper bumpers front and rear set it apart, as do the sharper-looking chromed tailpipes at the rear and the subtle bootlid spoiler. The car’s biggest tells, however, are the gaping chrome air dam on the front valance (a very necessary addition to provide the additional cooling for the V8 engine) and the rather immodest bulge in its bonnet.

Planned from the outset

The CTS-V’s drivetrain has been significantly beefed up to cope with that monstrous power. It has a stronger propshaft and thicker halfshafts than the standard CTS to combat wheel hop under full acceleration. The car’s suspension turrets have also been reinforced.The CTS’s body structure, however, has been left as it is, a labour-saving made by possible by the fact that a firebrand version of this CTS was in the product plan from the word go.The new Cadillac CTS-V will be priced from $62,000 when it launches in the USA later this year. GM Europe has yet to commit to a European import schedule but, for the fastest and possibly the most impressive performance car in Cadillac’s history, it seems a given. Expect a UK introduction sometime in mid-2009, and a price tag set below £60,000.

Our Verdict

Cadillac CTS

Latest Cadillac offers a premium interior and decent driving dynamics, however the CTS can't compete with its German rivals in Europe

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11 January 2008

The front grille looks like something Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall would use to keep foxes away from his chickens. I'd expect the boy-racer look on some souped-up second-hand Saxo, but on a £60,000 Cadillac? They're having a laugh.

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