There was a time when three-digit horsepower was a luxury reserved for the highest echelons of automotive prowess. But as research and development — peppered with a healthy dose of competition — take their effect, the whole way we think of horsepower is changing. Not helping slow things down is the new Cadillac CTS-V, which before its official Detroit Auto Show reveal next month has been released into the online world.
Previous rumors that the new hot sedan would be using a down-tuned version of the LT4 V8 engine found in the new Corvette Z06 have been substantiated. Though when we say down-tuned, we don’t mean it, exactly: In the CTS-V, it produces 640 horsepower, just 10 shy of the Z06. Top speed is sitting at a claimed 200 miles per hour, and General Motors surmises that the jaunt from zero to 60 should take about 3.7 seconds.
This, therefore, makes the CTS-V among the most powerful production sedans in the world. It tops the BMW M5’s horsepower by a figure of 80, exceeds the Mercedes E63 AMG’s output by 63, and smokes out the outgoing CTS-V by 84 ponies. In fact, the only real contender that exceeds the CTS-V’s power output is the Dodge Charger Hellcat and i’s 707 horsepower atomic bomb. But while the Dodge outmuscles the Caddy, the latter is able to outdo in prestige — it is a Cadillac, after all.
The 6.2-liter V8 is helped along by a 1.7-liter supercharger, and together, they team up to throw down 630 pounds-feet of torque (20 fewer pounds-feet than the Corvette). But while these tremendous figures are all well and dandy, the deciding factor of this car is going to be how that power is delivered. Six hundred and forty horsepower is virtually useless if it can’t be put onto the ground in a proper fashion, essentially relegating the Caddy to a $70,000-or-whatever doughnut machine whose sole purpose is to destroy whatever rubber the buyer coats the wheels in.
But if Cadillac has been using the playbook from the Z06, then we shouldn’t have a whole lot to worry about — but other luxury manufacturers may. Early reviews suggest that the Z06 and its 650 horsepower pull is every bit the drivers’ car that it should be, despite having such a colossal output.
To handle the heat that CTS-V drivers will likely be putting the car through, the power is channeled through GM’s new eight-speed automatic transmission, the same found in the Chevy. It’ll then be routed to the rear wheels, in true sport-sedan fashion, and released onto the tarmac through a set of Michelin Pilot Super Sport tires.
As for road manners, there is a set of unspoken rules that this caliber of car must abide by to remain competitive. It must be polite and well-mannered enough for everyday driving; these are rarely “and” cars, but instead “or” cars — one that will likely be used for at least a decent chunk of daily driving, and we can’t be going 150 miles per hour all the time through a cloud of newly vaporized rubber smoke. However, as soon as the traffic gives way, the car must pull a Mr. Hyde with the drop of the accelerator and take on a new, mean, and brash persona.
Looking solely at the CTS-V’s specs, it’s hard to imagine that there’s any Dr. Jekyll in there at all, but it’s still too early to make that call. It’s not all angry bees and pissed-off grizzly bears, though. Inside, the car is appointed as all of the new Cadillacs are, albeit with the sporty touches of Caddy’s V-branded models. “All of the contact points — the steering wheel, seats, shifter and pedals — are designed to make performance driving experiences direct and intuitive,” Andrew Smith, the executive director of Cadillac Global Design, said in a press release.
Let’s run a quick recap from the front to back to get a better idea of what makes the CTS-V more than just a normal CTS with a nuke under the hood.
Engine and drivetrain
- The 2016 Cadillac CTS-V uses the same LT4, supercharged 6.2-liter V8 found in the Corvette Zo6. It tops out at 200 miles per hour, serves up 640 horsepower and 630 pounds-feet of torque, and can hustle the car to 60 miles per hour in 3.7 seconds, according to Cadillac’s figures. It uses the same eight-speed automatic transmission to shuffle the power to the rear wheels.
- Essentially every piece of body paneling on the CTS-V is unique to this car. The hood (which is carbon fiber), fascias, fenders — all of it have been designed for form as well as function. Those aggressive hood vents are built for cooling, and the whole setup has been tweaked for optimized aerodynamics.
- The fenders have been flared out to accommodate the 19-inch performance rims.
- There’s an optional carbon fiber design package that will include a more aggressive front splitter, hood vent, rear diffuser, and spoiler.
Chassis and suspension
- The CTS-V is, not surprisingly, a rear-wheel drive car. It has independent five-link suspension with Magnetic Ride Control in the back, and your standard McPherson strut with dual lower ball joints, direct-acting stabilizer bar, and Magnetic Ride Control up front.
- Brakes are offered courtesy of Brembo. The rotors are a healthy 15.3 inches across in front and 14.3 in the rear. Front calipers boast six pistons, and the rear ones offer four. In other words, there’s some serious stopping power, which we’re guessing the car will make good use of.
- Structural stiffness has been improved by 25%, to help with handling and body roll through the corners. “With the stronger body structure — and more than a decade of V-Series production models and the CTS-V racing program experience — engineers tuned the CTS-V to deliver greater body motion control for a more agile feel, while maintaining excellent ride quality,” said David Leone, Cadillac’s executive chief engineer. “The result is class-leading capability on the highway or track, balanced with luxury and refinement.”
- Drivers are treated to sporty yet luxurious 20-way power seats, which are both heated and ventilated, and made from semi-aniline leather. If that’s too pedestrian for your racing tastes, you can splurge on the optional Recaro racing seats, which help hold the driver and front passenger in place during high-load cornering.
- The car comes standard with the 12.3-inch instrument panel cluster display, featuring V-Series graphics “and distinctive gauge readouts and complementing full-color, reconfigurable head-up display,” according to the company. Cadillac’s CUE naturally comes, as well.
- The car will adopt the performance data recorder, similar to the one found on the Corvette that allows drivers to download and analyze the data generated from a track day run.
“V-Series represents the very best of the Cadillac brand — the pinnacle of our design and technical capabilities,” Cadillac’s president, Johan de Nysschen, said in the press blast. “The new CTS-V is the most compelling example of Cadillac’s product substance and brand trajectory. The new CTS-V soars into the stratosphere of the most exhilarating luxury cars.”