I was sweating bullets.
Ahead of me, a tight, sharp left hander with no room for error – and a
5,000 foot drop awaiting if I did botch the turn. My speed? It sat
somewhere in the realm of, “are you serious?” I knew that if I hit the
brakes while turning, I would be toast. If I didn’t slow down enough – I
would fly off the side of a cliff landing somewhere in Idaho Springs,
Colorado – – in a burning heap of Detroit metal.
That was it. Nothing crazy, nothing wild, nothing worth noting as the
approximately $68,000 Cadillac CTS-V shrugged off the corner that
terrified me. After exiting, I opened the windows and heard the muted
grumble of the supercharged, 556 horsepower, 6.2-liter (producing 551
lbs of torque) V8 echo through the valley.
“THIS is a Cadillac!?”
I had to wonder. You see, my whole family owned Cadillacs way back from
pre-war V16 Fleetwoods to convertible, FWD Eldorados to the Northstar
powered STS and just about everything else in-between. Nothing bowled me
over until I road in my first CTS-V (the first generation with a 400
horsepower, 6.0 liter V8). In that car, I was stunned and confused with
its mission statement. I mean, was this some one-off fluke that GM built
as an experiment?
Then, ever so recently, I got my greedy paws on a lovely (it looks much
better than the first generation) CTS-V with a 6-speed automatic, a
similar transmission to the unit used in the Camaro. Yes, I would much
prefer the 6-speed manual, but this is a very good automatic and it’s
ideal to use as a comparison to the only two American competitors I
could imagine and have recently driven; the Chrysler 300C SRT8 and
No, neither car holds a performance candle to the CTS-V.
In fact, very few cars can match the awesome performance of the 2010
Cadillac CTS-V – VERY few. This is the FASTEST, best handling 4-door
that America has mass produced – ever. To say that it is competitive to
Mercedes, BMW, Lexus, Infiniti and Audi is an understatement. It smacks
them around with the subtlety of a 50-caliber machinegun used at a
The looks are subtle enough for the uninitiated to take little notice;
yet, the overall combination of line with curve looks seductively cool. I
especially like the 19-inch painted wheels, which maintain the
masculine undertones (there is nothing feminine about this car) nicely.
This is more than a car that has a Corvette ZR1’s engine shoehorned
inside. This is a statement of what American performance can truly be.
There’s no going back to squishy and sloppy.
With the recent weather leaving roads less than ideal for hard numbers
testing and closing High Plains Raceway – I only managed a few accurate
tests. The 0 to 60 mph average time of 4.5 seconds is spot on
(considering a slight loss with over 5,200 feet of altitude and iffy
roads). The manual is even faster.
Braking distances averaged about 111 feet from 60 mph to 0. Once again, I
had less than ideal conditions – despite this, 111 feet is damn good.
At one point, I had to haul the nearly 4,300 lbs CTS-V to a stop from
triple digit speed and it nearly sucked my eyeballs out of my skull.
Massive Brembo brakes are nearly fade free and clamp with authority.
How is it to drive daily?
It is surprisingly civilized. Sure, the ride is jittery compared with
some of its competitors – but it has a completely different objective.
Most of the competitors are luxury cars with added muscle. The CTS-V
feels like a muscle car with added luxury. No kidding – it is capable of
acting fairly luxurious, but you never forget about the hurricane under
I used it to shuttle my kids and it did its job with no fuss.
I used it to take family to the airport; its ride and 13.6 cubic foot
capacity trunk were well received.
It intimidated a Mercedes Benz S Class owner in a religious
institution’s parking lot.
I embarrassed an older BMW 3 M, a Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8, a 350Z and
not one but two Mustangs.
I got my wife to (begrudgingly) admit that this IS a “Beast.”
I used it to scare the hell out of my sister-in-law…
It does it all!
Automotive media, racing, vehicle evaluation, wrecking yards, and car
sales are just a part of Nathan Adlen’s vehicular past. He writes out
of high octane passion! To read more reviews by Nathan Adlen or just to
enjoy more of excellent writing please visit him on at his examiner.com
page HERE. Photos by: