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.
Not surprisingly, the CTS-V Sport Wagon, painted in a generic silver color with few details to distinguish it from a standard CTS Wagon, didn't attract much attention from other drivers unless it was blasting off from a stop. One young guy in a BMW 328i coupe noticed the car and felt the need to rocket past us. With less than half the Cadillac's horsepower, we aren't quite sure what the BMW driver was trying to prove, but we were happy to have someone up ahead to attract the attention of the local smokeys.
At our destination, the CTS-V Wagon drew lots of attention from friends around the table. One fellow diner used to sell Cadillacs, and immediately asked Twork how the brand plans to actually sell the V Wagon. After a combined total of 299 chicken wings, the group decided the V Wagon is the coolest car nobody will actually buy. The only way to make it cooler (and possibly less desirable to general consumers) would be to add rear-facing third row seats, like those found in Mercedes-Benz's E350 4Matic Wagon. Ironically, Mercedes used to sell an E63 AMG Wagon with the signature third row seats, but demand in the US proved to be too low to bother offering the revised E63 AMG Wagon in the States.
Hopefully Cadillac finds enough buyers to keep the CTS-V Sport Wagon in production. When you consider the ridiculous class of high performance SUVs and crossovers that have hit the streets lately (BMW X6 M, anyone?) the CTS-V Sport Wagon seems positively logical. Even if the V Wagon fails miserably in showrooms, it will be an exciting footnote for the few brave souls who buy them. We certainly look forward to driving this car once it reaches production.