2009 Cadillac CTS-V

Powertrain

Like the previous CTS-V, the heart of the new car is its supercharged, OHV V-8. The hearty 6.2-liter V-8 (which happens to be the same size as the AMG V-8) is topped by an Eaton blower that spins to 16,000 rpm. This engine, which GM dubs LSA, is a derivative of the LS9 V-8 in the ZR-1 Corvette. The LSA does without the LS9's dry sump lubrication, and it doesn't quite match the ZR-1's output of 638 hp and 604 lb-ft of torque; instead it settles for a wholly adequate 556 hp and 551 lb-ft, numbers that make it not only the most powerful Cadillac in history - easily surpassing the 400 hp from the previous version's 5.7-liter engine - but also eclipse both the BMW M5's V-10 and the aforementioned V-8 in the Mercedes-Benz E63 AMG.

As before, the CTS-V offers a manual transmission. This time, however, it's not a truck-like beast paired with a heavy clutch. The only hangover from the old car's manual is the presence, once again, of a first-to-fourth skip-shift, but it only comes into play in a narrow speed band, so you might encounter it only rarely. On a happier note, the new six-speed provides solid - if not silky - shift action and a nicely weighted, easy-to-modulate clutch. This is a transmission you could happily shift every day. But those who'd rather not deal with a manual gearbox, even a good one, have an option they didn't before: a six-speed automatic that includes shift paddles and a sport program. The automatic gives up nothing in performance to the stick-shift car, and in fact it was an automatic CTS-V in which development chief John Heinricy set a sub-eight-minute lap record at the Nürburgring.

Animal magnetism

The CTS-V chassis is part of GM's Sigma family of rear-wheel-drive cars and is an evolution of the previous CTS-V. The wheelbase is unchanged at 113.4 inches, but the front and rear tracks are fractionally wider. The new car's ability to provide a civilized ride along with blistering track performance is largely a credit of the latest-generation Magnetic Ride Control. These variable dampers not only react instantaneously (adjusting their firmness level every millisecond), but their range from softest to stiffest is greater than before. The driver can select from two suspension settings, Tour and Sport, the latter of which triggers much more aggressive responses and leads to a very firm ride - too firm, really, for everyday street driving. The Tour mode also adds a welcome extra bit of heft to the steering. Of course, the CTS-V has standard stability control, with three levels of computer control: full on, competition mode (traction control off and stability control allowing more leeway), and full off. The brakes are by Brembo, with six-piston calipers for the fronts and four-piston at the rear. Two-piece front rotors and red-painted calipers are part of the Track package.

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