2009 Cadillac CTS-V

No one needed a crystal ball to predict that the 2009 Cadillac CTS-V would debut at the 2008 Detroit auto show, since the stock CTS was unveiled in Detroit exactly one year ago, at the 2007 show. And ever since the current-generation BMW M5 debuted (fall 2004 in Europe, fall 2005 in the United States) with a 500-hp V-10 engine, we pretty much knew that the second-generation CTS-V would have at least 500 hp, as well. When we drove the stock CTS at the Nurburgring in Germany last summer, Cadillac officials whispered that the CTS-V would have "at least 500 hp" and allowed that it would be offered with an automatic transmission for the first time.

Taking a page from the last CTS-V, which used the LS6 V-8 engine from the C5 Corvette Z06, the 2009 Cadillac CTS-V's 6.2-liter V-8 is derived from the engine in the 2008 Corvette. For Cadillac duty, however, GM attached a supercharger to the V-8 and bumped out the hood to accommodate the big blower. The resulting engine churns out an estimated 550 hp and 550 lb-ft of torque, handily beating both the BMW V-10 and the Mercedes-Benz E63 AMG's 507-hp, 465-lb-ft, 6.2-liter V-8. The blown V-8, which GM is calling the LSA, mates either to a six-speed automatic or a six-speed manual. As for the current-generation Corvette Z06's 505-hp, 7.0-liter V-8? It was deemed to be too weak to compete effectively with the Germans!

Like all recent CTS iterations, the CTS-V was honed at the Nurburgring. Its chassis receives few modifications--only new dual-mode magneto-rheological dampers and minor increases in spring and antiroll-bar rates--but the brakes have been heavily reinforced. A larger, cast-iron differential housing replaces the previous CTS-V's Achilles'-heel aluminum differential (known for its tendency to fail under hard use), and it contains a mechanical limited-slip unit. Presumably these changes will eradicate the axle hop that plagued the last car.

Exterior modifications are subtle but distinctive. The front fascia shares only its headlights with the stock CTS, and the CTS-V gains larger air intakes with mesh covers, the aforementioned domed hood, and a third brake light atop the trunk lid--Cadillac claims it can produce downforce. Nineteen-inch, forged aluminum wheels barely disguise the massive Brembo brakes. The overall look is one of understated performance, very much in the vein of the German cars that Cadillac is going up against.

The interior is the biggest visual upgrade from the last CTS-V. The stock CTS cabin is a huge improvement over the first-generation car, and the CTS-V carries that goodness even further with a faux-suede steering wheel, Recaro seats, black instrument panel trim, and LEDs in the speedometer and tachometer.

The CTS-V's spec sheet is indeed impressive. During our drive of the stock CTS, Cadillac engineers promised that the V-spec car would be more friendly in everyday driving than the BMW M5, which has incredible performance but which is saddled with confusing technology that compromises the car's livability. All that remains is for us to drive the CTS-V, which will likely happen this August or September, to see if it can knock the M5 and the E63 AMG off their pedestals.

Click the link below for high-resolution CTS-V images.

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