2017 Cadillac CTS V-Sport: Underdog Against the European Elite [Review]

2017 Cadillac CTS V-Sport
2017 Cadillac CTS V-Sport

The idea of Cadillac building a capable sports sedan is still hard to fathom for many car enthusiasts. Whenever the topic of best sports sedans comes up, I always mention that the CTS and ATS are really quite excellent. At that point, whoever I’m talking with usually gasps in disbelief. Apparently, the image of a Cadillac being the perfect car for some old fuddy-duddy putting along in the slow lane still sticks.

Driving the 2017 CTS V-Sport reminded me of how truly unfortunate this misconception is. Truly, this is one of the best performing mid-size sports sedans on sale today. Whether the CTS is an equally good luxury sedan is a question that’s a little harder to answer in the affirmative. However, if you’re looking for a driver’s car, the CTS V-Sport is hard to beat.

What makes the CTS V-Sport so good, you ask? It’s all about performance fundamentals, which the CTS V-Sport easily aces. It starts with the same superb Alpha platform chassis that also underpins the ATS, as well as the Chevy Camaro. This lighter, stiffer platform ensures that when the road gets twisty, the CTS is up to the task. In an era where some other luxury sports sedans have become surprisingly soft (*cough* BMW 5 series *cough*), the CTS is downright unflappable in the corners.

The suspension tuning is also commendable. That’s not surprising, given the CTS V-Sport uses the same Magnetic Ride Control found in the Corvette. Even in its firm setting, the ride isn’t punishing. But, once you hit a mid-corner bump at speed, you’ll be blown away at how the suspension soaks it up without complaining. Even in such events, the car stays perfectly planted.

And then, of course, there’s the engine. A 3.6-liter twin-turbo V6 producing 420 horsepower and 430 lb-ft torque breathes life into this understated sport sedan. Mated to a quick shifting 8-speed automatic, there is enough scoot for a mid-4 second 0-60 time. Get on the throttle a bit early when cornering and the rear end will easily step out. However, there isn’t so much power that it’s hard to control. If that’s what you want, you can still step up to the CTS-V.

Which brings up the fact that unlike some other sports sedans, the CTS V-Sport is rear-wheel drive, not all-wheel drive. Although this might cost some points for all-around drivability, once you rotate the CTS V-Sport around a tight corner, balancing the car using the throttle, you’ll instantly appreciate that the engine is only driving the rear wheels.

Our test car came with a set of well-bolstered Recaro front seats — a clear signal that this is a car that would not be at all out of place on the track. Herein lies the beauty of the CTS V-Sport. You could flog it at the track on the weekend, commute to work during the week, and not have to sacrifice much for either. Many performance sedans claim that they can pull this off, but few really have the chops to truly excel at both. Some other sports sedans are either too numb and soft for true track use, or they’re too harsh to drive to work every day.

2017 Cadillac CTS V-Sport interior

If anything, it’s the luxury and feature side of the equation wherein the CTS V-Sport could use a little help. The interior is not quite as nice as you would expect for a $70k luxury sedan, with material quality falling short in places. The CTS is also on the small side for a mid-size luxury sedan. That shortcoming makes itself known when you try to get into the cramped rear seats. Moreover, the CUE infotainment system is still very frustrating to use, something the automotive press and customers have been complaining about for over four years now.

From the driver’s seat, however, these are minor quibbles. They’re easily forgotten once you give the throttle a good stab. The CTS V-sport is also a relative bargain for a luxury sports sedan, starting at a bit over $60k, which makes the less-than-brilliant interior [mostly] forgivable. Our well-optioned test car rang in at $77,730, but none of these options affects the performance capability of the car. If it were my money, I would pass on most of them.

Perhaps the only major disappointment I had testing the CTS V-Sport was finding out that GM does not plan to continue the car past 2018. Apparently, the ATS and CTS are being replaced with one car, the CT5, as even luxury sedan sales have been steadily declining over the past few years. Nowadays, everyone and his or her brother want a crossover, which is unfortunate, as the CTS V-Sport really shows how good a modern sports sedan can be.

2017 Cadillac CTS V-Sport
MSRP $70,795
Price as tested $77,730
Engine 3.6L Twin Turbo V6
Power (hp) 420 @ 5,750 rpm
Torque (lb-ft) 430 @ 3,500 – 4,500 rpm
Transmission 8-speed automatic
Drivetrain layout Rear-wheel-drive
Curb weight 3,992 lbs
EPA-estimated fuel economy mpg 16 / 24 / 19 (city/hwy/combined)
Weight distribution (front/rear) 50 / 50
Wheelbase 114.6 inches
Length/height/width 195.5″ / 57.2″ / 72.2″

New for 2018

Added to the list of trim options for the 2018 model year is the Morello Red Edition. Content unique for this special edition includes Recaro seats with suede inserts, suede microfiber steering wheel and shift knob, Morello Red interior trim, Morello carbon fiber trim accents, black chrome-accented grille, gloss black side window trim, and V-Sport base spoiler.

For 2018, owners who use the myCadillac mobile app for iOS can integrate with Apple Watch. The app will automatically appear and sync with Apple Watch, allowing owners quick access to a variety of commands.

The 2018 CTS features two additional USB ports into the rear console, a smart-heated steering wheel that temperature activates to keep the driver’s hands at a comfortable temp.

Satin Steel Metallic is the new exterior color choice for 2018.

Derek Mau also contributed to this review.

Cadillac CTS V-Sport Photo Gallery

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