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2011 Cadillac CTS-V Coupe review

"V" is for awesome. At least, it ought to be.

About.com Rating 5 Star Rating


2011 Cadillac CTS-V front view

2011 Cadillac CTS-V

Photo © Aaron Gold

From time to time, my colleagues and I get into a debate about what God, if He exists, would drive. I am of the opinion that if God showed up on Earth in anything other than a Cadillac CTS-V Coupe, we should seriously question whether he deserves to be worshipped in the first place.

Larger photos: Front - rear - interior - all photos

2011 Cadillac CTS-V interior

2011 Cadillac CTS-V interior

Photo © Aaron Gold

It is difficult to write about the CTS-V Coupe without resorting to religious metaphors. The coupe's shape has the chiseled beauty normally reserved for European cathedrals. The engine produces the sort of fury they write about in the Bible. The docility with which it handles is nothing short of a miracle, and the price -- $63,235 for starters, including $1,300 gas-guzzler tax -- is not so much a bargain as a gift to all mankind. Put the whole package together, and you have a car that could turn Mother Superior into Heidi Fleiss.

The CTS-V Coupe really is a car that can do it all. Let's start with your drive to work. You'd be right to expect a car with this much power to be a bucking, snorting, cantankerous bully, but the CTS-V when driven gently is as unassuming as a monk. Aside from the heavy clutch, the CTS-V is no more demanding to drive than a Corolla -- except Corollas don't get 10 MPG around town.

Open up the taps a bit, and rather than yank at the leash, the CTS-V builds power smoothly and progressively. Want to claim a spot in the next lane? Just give a light goose on the pedal -- no need to change gears -- and the CTS-V leaps ahead, claims its space, then settles back down to a smooth, comfortable gait.

And when you are finally ready to summon the full wrath of the CTS-V, it delivers truly awe-inspiring performance. There is no word in the English language that can quite describe the CTS-V's acceleration, although I'm working on one (it's a hybrid of the words "quick," "amnesia," and a four-letter expletive). But while the acceleration may be devilish, the handling is divine: High-power rear-drive cars are often little more than assisted-suicide devices which will punish an ill-timed jerk of the wheel or stab of the pedal with death and dismemberment (or at least a lot of expensive bodywork). Not the CTS-V -- it is amazingly forgiving of those who are over-enthusiastic with the steering or the accelerator. Most of this comes down to the exquisitely-tuned chassis, but the electronic stability control system is programmed to step in gently and unobtrusively as needed -- a gentle savior if there ever was one.

But what's truly miraculous is the CTS-V's ride and handling trade-off, because there doesn't seem to be one. The ride is exceptionally smooth and comfortable, yet the grip defies belief -- the CTS-V has a built-in lateral G-meter, which I was able to max out at 1.2g. The man behind the curtain is General Motors' Magnetic Ride Control shock absorbers, which are filled with a special oil that can be instantly thickened by application of a magnetic field. The result: Proper sports-car handling but without the abusive sports-car ride.

Complaints? None, really. Sure, there are trade-offs for the coupe body style, like the tiny trunk opening and an almost complete lack of back-seat headroom. But Cadillac also makes the CTS-V as a sedan or a wagon, so there's really no grounds to complain. I do wish the soundtrack was better; from the outside the CTS-V's exhaust sounds like hell ripped open, but those inside must settle for a rebel induction yell and a whine from the supercharger. And the fuel economy is abysmal -- I averaged 13.9 MPG, but with 556 hp under the hood, one can't expect miracles.

If you are thinking about buying a Cadillac CTS-V Coupe, there are only two things you need to know. First, I hate you and I want to be you. Second, there is no other car on the market quite like the CTS-V Coupe. Sure, there are plenty of good-looking, go-faster two-doors out there; the BMW M3 and Mercedes-Benz C63 are among my favorites. But neither of those cars -- nor any other car I can think of -- can deliver the CTS-V Coupe's combination of over-the-top power, race-car handling and drop-dead-gorgeous styling, and definitely not at such a low price.

Bottom line: Just go ahead and buy it. I can't see how anyone could ever be disappointed by the CTS-V Coupe. After all, if it's good enough for God, it's good enough for you. -- Aaron Gold

What I liked about the Cadillac CTS-V:

2011 Cadillac CTS-V engine

Heart of the beast: CTS-V's 556 hp supercharged V8

Photo © Aaron Gold
  • Beautiful styling
  • Soul-wrenching power
  • Amazing handling and balance

What I didn't like about the Cadillac CTS-V coupe

  • Thirsty enough to create its own fuel crisis

Details and specs:

  • Price range (including gas guzzler tax and options): $63,235 - $70,545
  • Powertrain: 6.2 liter supercharged V8, 556 hp, 6-speed manual or automatic, rear-wheel-drive
  • Where built: USA
  • EPA fuel economy estimates: 14 MPG city/19 MPG highway (manual), 12/18 (automatic)
  • Warranty: 4 years/50,000 miles bumper-to-bumper, 5 years/100,000 miles powertrain, 6 years/unlimited mileage outer-body rust-through
  • Roadside assistance/free maintenance: 5 years/100,000 miles roadside assistance
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