2009 Cadillac CTS-V

Jamie Kitman
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Daniel Byrne
2009 Cadillac CTS-V

It is the pride of Lansing, Michigan (where it's built), and, in our considered medical opinion, proof positive that the organization that made it has a lively pulse. It is, in fact, a performance masterpiece, very much something to aspire to, inside and outside GM. If you can afford to buy it, you can afford to feed it.

To detail our findings, the CTS-V is fab on the highway, fab on the track. And did we mention it is also the fastest production Cadillac ever, running on to a maximum speed of 191 mph (175 mph if you opt for the six-speed automatic over the Tremec six-speed manual)? Those numbers are hard not to love. Ditto the manual gearbox that, notwithstanding super-heavy-duty innards, shifts with satisfying ease.

Early this morning, we'd shuttled a convoy of CTS-Vs up from White Plains, New York, to the track, so I knew beforehand that it was good, although not so soon as I knew it was stupid fast. Track time would merely confirm the eternal truth: corporate frailty and other barbs just don't come to mind when you've planted your right foot and all hell is breaking loose in the forward-momentum department. How could the men and women responsible for this be anything other than geniuses, their stewardship of the brand other than inspired, when you're experiencing firsthand the godlike implications of the CTS-V's 556 supercharged hp and prodigious 551 lb-ft of torque, with brakes and handling to match?

The titanic torque figure eclipses the 465 lb-ft that Mercedes-Benz claims for its $86,875 E63 AMG, while fairly whomping the ten-cylinder, $88,925 BMW M5 and its 383 lb-ft. Numeric victory in the upper statistical reaches of super-sedan territory doesn't count for everything, but it surely won't hurt when this new, second-generation car becomes the first CTS-V to be sold in Europe, Russia, Japan, and elsewhere.

Thankfully, composure in the face of its horsepower surfeit is one thing that makes the CTS-V such a viable competitor in the rarefied world it roams. Its independent suspension and taut chassis show us what Cadillac is capable of generally, while reminding us specifically of the magic of Magnetic Ride Control.

In its latest evolution, this undersung system utilizes magneto-rheological fluid to adjust individual dampers at all four corners based on constant evaluation of road conditions. In practice, Magnetic Ride Control is one of the most useful modern chassis technologies, offering almost otherworldly body control during spirited driving, not a trait for which American sedans are famous.

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