Driven: 2012 Cadillac CTS-V Coupe

Written by Lee Bailie on .

2012 Cadillac CTS-V Coupe

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There’s nothing subtle about the Cadillac CTS-V, especially in coupe form finished in black with black aluminum wheels – it screams brute force and barely restrains its aggression and, for most buyers that will choose this combination, that is exactly how they like it.

Stripped of much of the brightwork Cadillac is traditionally known for, the CTS-V’s sharply-creased wedge shape is designed to emphasize performance. Aside from some oddly positioned vents – did someone forget to remove them? – located behind the front wheels and some bits around the windows and trunk, chrome is used sparingly, a choice that fits the powerhouse Caddy’s minimalist look quite well.

The 19-inch black wheels on the tester further emphasize the car’s performance credentials. They nicely frame the car’s massive brake rotors and contrast nicely with its optional yellow Brembo calipers.

It isn’t all about looks with this car, however.

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Raised on the Nürburgring (where it has posted a lap time below eight minutes) to do battle with Germany’s best, including one three-lettered marque in particular, the CTS-V comes loaded for bear with heavy performance credentials that are immediately evident as soon as one wedges themselves behind the steering wheel and twists the faux ignition key (a fixed switch that works in concert with the key fob).

Immediately, the deep bass rumble of GM’s 6.2-litre supercharged LSA V8 fills the cabin, inviting the driver to get it in gear and unleash the 556 horsepower and 551 lb-ft of torque sitting in the engine compartment.

While the booming V8 might be the big attraction that grabs most of the headlines, there are other things the CTS-V shares with the Chevrolet Camaro ZL1, namely a Magnetic Ride Control Sport Suspension, a limited-slip rear differential and a Tremec short-throw six-speed manual transmission.

On the inside, the CTS-V tester sets itself further apart from the garden variety CTS with a driver-oriented layout that includes optional Recaro sport seats and a suede-trimmed shift knob and steering wheel.

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Impressions

Climbing into the CTS-V feels a little like getting into a bunker. The high and heavy doors have a real solid feel about them, but once you’re in and you’ve “thunked” them shut, you feel like you’ve really said goodbye to the outside world.

This feeling is further driven home by the car’s low slung driving position and relatively poor rearward visibility. Like a lot of coupes, the CTS-V has sizable blind spots and, although the tester does have blind spot monitoring, expect to do lots of mirror-checking in while driving this car.

That said, the driving position is quite good. The Recaro seats in our tester are quite supportive and offer enough adjustability to accommodate most drivers regardless of stature.

Despite the performance theme the CTS-V is infused with, the interior is hardly stripped. It comes stocked with the usual amenities one expects to find in a luxury car that starts north of $72,000. Among these are dual-zone climate controls, cabin odour filtration, all the usual power amenities and an impressive stereo / navigation system that comes with a 40 GB hard drive, 10 speakers, back-up camera and a screen that rises out of the dash at start up.  

The analogue clock in the centre stack below the screen provide an elegant touch and the controls and switches have a pleasing tactile feel. Although the car comes equipped with an abundance of technology and things to adjust, Cadillac has managed to package them in a layout that doesn’t overwhelm – logic prevails.

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The two-tone black and tan colour scheme has a rich, if somewhat muted look to it, but the materials appear to be of high quality. The stitching in the cowl that covers the instrument cluster is especially impressive and has a soft, quality feel.

Although technically a 2+2, the CTS-V Coupe is for all intents and purposes a two-seat automobile. Thanks primarily to a sloping roofline, the back seats are not really designed to carry much unless they we’re taking about: a) small children or b) bags of groceries or small pieces of luggage. The trunk size is adequate but, let’s be real here, no one is likely to buy this car for its storage space.

On the road, the CTS-V makes for a knife-edge driving experience that doesn’t disappoint. The response from the accelerator is hair-trigger and even light stabs at it will launch the car with seat-pressing force. Once acclimatized to the quicker throttle response, it is a remarkably easy car to drive fast – much to the delight of police forces everywhere, no doubt.

The supercharged V8 emits a pleasing throaty growl, even at moderate levels of acceleration and, thankfully, Cadillac sound engineers resisted the urge to soundproof the cabin. Normal conversations can take place (with windows up, of course) in the CTS-V, but the sound it makes, especially under hard acceleration enhances the driving experience.

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The Tremec manual works well with the CTS-V’s beast of an engine and, although the clutch is a little heavy, it’s something that can be adjusted to over time.

At 1,909 kilograms (4,209 lbs), the CTS-V is not a light vehicle by any means, but despite its bulk, feels reasonably light on its feet. Thanks to a stiff chassis, sticky Michelin Pilot Sport summer tires and magnetic ride control, cornering is precise and the steering is sensitive and responds to light inputs well.

Not that too many buyers are likely to care, but the CTS-V is a bit of a thirsty machine and premium gas is not cheap. A combination of city and highway driving drained its 68 litre tank in just four days.

In sum, the CTS-V Coupe is a blast to drive. While not cheap, it delivers good value in terms of performance, technology, style and sheer driving pleasure – it was hard for us to give it back after our four days were up.

If you’re going to take the plunge and purchase a CTS-V Coupe, we highly recommend the black on black exterior colour and wheel combination – it looks great and might even make you feel just a little like Batman, and who wouldn’t want that?

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Specifications

2012 Cadillac CTS-V Coupe

Base Price – $72,230
Engine – 6.2L LSA V8
Horsepower / Torque – 556 hp / 551 lb-ft
Configuration – FR
Transmission – 6-speed Tremec manual
Fuel Economy Ratings – 14.9 / 10.5 L/100 km; 19 / 27 (city / hwy.)

Options on Test Vehicle

 Recaro Performance Seat Package ($3,910)
- ventilated front seats
- sport metallic pedals
Premium Paint ($1,295)
19” Satin Graphite Aluminum Wheels ($830)
Power Tilt-Open Sunroof ($805)
Yellow Brembo Calipers ($625)
Sueded Steering Wheel and Shift Knob ($345)
A/C Tax: $100
Freight: $1,595
Price as Tested (before taxes): $81,735
Basic Warranty: 48 months / 80,000 km

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