The CTS-V coupe is without a doubt the coolest member of the CTS family so far, although the upcoming CTS-V wagon might change my mind about that. The CTS-V sedan debuted about two years ago, perhaps a bit too quietly, but the V coupe should remind us all of how cool any flavor of CTS-V is.
The coupe isn’t as high-strung as I expected (in other words, it’s easy to drive responsibly around town), but it’s still got plenty of power to out-accelerate the vast majority of cars on the road. You don’t HAVE to drive responsibly, however; I haven’t spun the tires of any car this much in a very long time. In the case of our test car, those tires are mounted on totally badass flat-black wheels. The coupe profile is very hot, too, making the V coupe probably the hottest Cadillac in history. Happily, the trunk is bigger than expected, and so are the back seats.
The manual gearbox could stand to have shorter throws and slightly more precise movement, but I still think it’s better than the BMW M3’s stick shift, and I’m very glad that Cadillac offers a manual in the CTS family. Second is arguably the only gear you need, since it’ll take you from zero all the way up to about 73 or 74 mph-like a rocket ship. The pedals are too far apart for me to heel-and-toe, but that’s hardly a deal-breaker in a car this darn cool.
Rusty Blackwell, Copy Editor
Much like Rusty, I had forgotten how docile and livable the CTS-V is around town thanks to its light clutch and magnetic ride control dampers. The only real downside to the manual transmission is the gear whine that sometimes penetrates the luxurious cabin, but given how easy it is to execute smooth shifts I can overlook the occasional whine. Cadillac offers a very good automatic transmission for the CTS-V line as well, though I’d be a bit embarrassed to have one in a V Coupe, I would probably opt for it in the sedan.
Perhaps the CTS-V’s 556 hp and 551 lb-ft of torque can feel so sedate because the car has such fantastic grip, acceleration, and refinement that you don’t realize how fast you are actually going. Watching the digital speedometer try to keep up with the car’s acceleration during a hard launch is always entertaining. It’s surprisingly quiet inside the cabin cruising at high speed, which is no small accomplishment on a B-pillarless vehicle. I’m going to step out on a limb here and say the CTS-V is the best non-German car with which to take on a stretch of unrestricted autobahn. Nothing else comes with this mix of capability and refinement.
Phil Floraday, Senior Web Producer
As I said in the comments for the (regular) CTS wagon and coupe, I am a big fan of these cars overall. I think this is the best looking line of Caddys since the 60s, and one of the best looking models offered by anyone right now.
So I was EXTREMELY excited to drive the V. I was not disappointed. This car is a blast to drive and really is unique. First of all, it is great-looking. We all know about the coupe’s angular and aggressive profile, but the addition of the blackout 19-inch wheels really separates the V from the other CTS cars and give it a much more badass personality than the chrome wheels on the otherwise identical V that Joe DeMatio drove in Europe.
I got plenty of looks, thumbs up, and questions as I drove the car around the GM-country Detroit suburbs-presumably these people are aware of the car, but seeing it in person for the first time.
The interior is beautiful, and the Recaros address my biggest complaint about the CTS wagon-these seats are extremely adjustable and supportive. The backseat and trunk are surprisingly roomy and usable. This really is a high performance coupe that would be perfectly liveable.
A minor detail, but one worth mentioning, is the fact that the airflow around the car allows for the windows to be all the way down with absolutely no turbulence in the cabin-adding greatly to the driving experience and the ease in which one can engage the many people who want to ask you about the car at a stoplight.
On the road, the V offers tremendous performance when the driver demands it, but behaves itself very well unprovoked. Incredibly fast, but the smooth and very predictable power build-up along with the nice feedback through the wheel and suspension and the snappy gearbox make this car easy to push OR control.
As much as I love the look of the coupe, I’d probably opt for the wagon version of this car (for the sole reason that I have two kids), but this car was an easy selection and the first entry I wrote down on my AOY ballot.
Matt Tierney, Art Director
I drove a similar CTS-V coupe around Europe last June for a big feature story I wrote for Automobile Magazine. That car had the six-speed automatic, a gray leather interior, and chrome wheels, with the same red exterior. I prefer this recent example with its smoky gray wheels, black leather interior, and six-speed manual. My colleagues have learned the same thing I did in Europe: the CTS-V coupe is a completely benign car, easy to drive, easy to place on the road, easy to park and to live with on a daily basis. But then when the right opportunity presents itself, it is a fire-breathing monster performance car. It’s a very compelling combination, this hybrid of luxury coupe and sports car, and I agree with Phil Floraday that nobody outside Germany is currently doing it better than Cadillac is with the CTS-V coupe.
Joe DeMatio, Deputy Editor
The CTS coupe is a fine car, but it didn’t inspire much emotion when I drove it a few weeks ago. But climbing into this 2011 Cadillac CTS-V coupe was an entirely different experience. The suede steering wheel, gloss-black trim, and coddling Recaro bucket seats transform the interior and taunt you with suggestions of what this car is capable of.
As it did to Rusty, the CTS-V implored me to squeal, smoke, and generally destroy the rear tires at every chance. The V coupe is comfortable and accessible no matter what your speed or driving habits are, but if you can appreciate what’s under the hood you’ll be exercising the 556-hp supercharged V-8 anytime you’re out of sight of law enforcement. You’ll also look for any opportunity to row through the absolutely perfect manual gearbox and curse at any traffic that forces you to take turns at less than 0.8 g. I love that the stability control button is planted right in front of your thumb on the steering wheel and how well calibrated the sport mode is. Even the aesthetics of our test car were fantastic. Red paint with black wheels? Perfect. Rusty is right, however, that the pedals are spaced a bit too far apart. And that is my sole complaint about the 2011 Cadillac CTS-V coupe.
Eric Tingwall, Associate Editor
Without a doubt, the CTS coupe is the most striking example of Cadillac’s angular design language. The new V coupe adds legitimate performance to back up its sporty styling. More importantly, unlike some luxury sports cars, the V isn’t tuned for the track at the detriment of real-world driving. Cadillac managed to add performance to the standard coupe with only minor sacrifices to its everyday drivability and its ability to coddle its occupants. Specifically, the V coupe didn’t make me suffer every time I hit rough pavement or cringe when I encountered a railroad crossing but it was still fun to drive aggressively when I had the opportunity.
Inside, the cabin is more spacious than I expected from a wedge-shaped coupe — at least in the front seat — and the overall style is an attractive mix of sport and luxury. The suede on the shifter and steering wheel looks great and is a reasonably priced option ($350) that adds some character to the mostly flat black surfaces — although on the 90-degree day that I drove the V coupe, it was hard to enjoy the suede’s fuzzy texture; I’m sure I’d appreciate it more in cool weather. The manual gearbox requires a satisfyingly deliberate motion but the long throws made it hard to complete shifts as quickly as I wanted. I also found the placement of the shifter a bit awkward. Once I had the seat positioned forward enough to engage the clutch’s long travel, the shifter was so close that first-to-second and third-to-fourth shifts were difficult. And, although the Recaro seats are extremely comfortable and supportive, the exaggerated side bolsters got in the way on these same shifts. For an insane $3400, I think I’d skip them anyway and go with the standard seats.
Jennifer Misaros, Production Editor
The V-series is the best thing to happen at Cadillac since this brand introduced V-8 engines 95 years ago. The thumping idle and the lusty lunge forth after a brush of the throttle really tickle my gizzard. Any family man harboring closet Corvette dreams will find deliverance with each handshake of the CTS-V’s suede-skinned steering wheel. This is a BMW M3 with a bigger back seat and a more vibrant heart beat. The fact that there’s only one camshaft lurking under this Cadillac’s hood makes it all the better when you blow off the lame Lincolns, the smartass Shelbys, and the prissy Porsches that get in your way.
Don Sherman, Technical Editor
2011 Cadillac CTS-V Coupe
Base price (with destination and guzzler tax): $64,290
Price as tested: $69,585
6.2-liter supercharged V-8 engine
6-speed manual transmission
19-inch aluminum wheels
4-wheel independent suspension with magnetic ride control
Performance Brembo disc brakes
Stabilitrak stability control
Tire pressure monitoring system
Leather-wrapped steering wheel
Dual-zone climate control
Heated front seats
Power, heated outside mirrors
Auto-dimming rearview mirror
Bose surround sound system with 40GB hard drive
XM satellite radio
HID headlamps with washers
Power tilt/telescoping steering wheel
Rear park assist
Options on this vehicle:
Recaro high performance seats — $3400
Crystal red exterior paint — $995
Wood trim package — $600
Suede steering wheel and shifter — $300
Key options not on vehicle:
14 / 19 / 16 mpg
Size: 6.2L supercharged V-8
Horsepower: 556 hp @ 6100 rpm
Torque: 551 lb-ft @ 3800 rpm
Wheels/tires: 19 x 9.0-inch painted aluminum wheels
255/40R19 front; 285/35R19 rear Michelin Pilot Sports performance tires