First Ride: 2011 Cadillac CTS-V Sport Wagon

Occasionally automakers ask members of the press what direction to take future products. The response is something like, "We need at least 500 hp, rear-wheel drive, a six-speed manual transmission, lots of Alcantara, and a station wagon body to hold it all." Normally automakers get this type of feedback and literally laugh out loud. Cadillac decided to build one.

Well, actually, Cadillac has built five of these beasts, known as the CTS-V Sport Wagon, so far and has plans to build, and maybe even sell, a few more by the end of the year. For those familiar with the CTS-V that debuted in 2009, not much is new here. That's fine, considering the 556-hp supercharged 6.2-liter LSA V-8 is a screamer. The blown V-8 has the power to rocket the 4390 lb wagon to 60 mph in about four seconds on the way to a 12-second quarter-mile pass. Accordingly, fuel economy is in the neighborhood of 14/19 mpg city/highway.

We were recently given a chance to ride along with Cadillac spokesman Nick Twork on a 400-mile run for all-you-can-eat chicken wings in one of the first CTS-V Sport Wagons built on the assembly line in Lansing, Michigan. Since this particular vehicle is part of the engineering test fleet, we weren't allowed to drive it. A glance at the g-meter in the instrument panel revealed peak lateral acceleration well past 1.0 g in each direction, so we can confirm someone has been driving this car hard. Although our car was equipped with a six-speed automatic, Cadillac also allows buyers to order a six-speed manual transmission.

In some respects, going for a 400 mile highway slog in a CTS-V Sport Wagon is a waste of several hours in a high-performance automobile. But the reality is a car like the CTS-V is just as good on a long trip as it is blasting through a sweeping turn with smoke billowing from its rear wheelwells. The Recaro seats offer great adjustability and support, and even the rear seat was reasonably comfortable for a long stretches. Cadillac's Magnetic Ride Control makes for a very tolerable ride over Michigan's broken pavement. It would be a great compromise between sport and touring tuning for the suspension, except there is no compromise -- the car fits either role equally well. A few days before this trip, we piloted a CTS coupe over some of the same stretches of interstate and much preferred the ride quality in the CTS-V Wagon to that of the standard coupe.

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Wow!!!!I just had a ride in one of these. It has been a long time since a simple ride in the passenger seat has made me laugh out loud. Cadillac has a home run with this car. Congratulations to everyone involved in getting it built. Truly a fantastic effort and I have a new car on my top 5 list. Thanks!
The Sport Wagon's turned into a wee sexy bastard. Please America, buy this car. I'm about four years away from getting one and I want it to be around when I'm ready. Make mine in that red with a 6MT.

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