2009 Cadillac CTS-V

Form follows function

Cadillac's faceted-design language has really come into its own in the second-generation CTS, and the good news is that the V-series doesn't screw it up with a lot of gratuitous, "sporty" add-ons. In fact, Cadillac engineers stress that all exterior changes were made for function. The new front fascia, which uses the chrome mesh grille texture seen in other V-series cars, allows twice as much airflow, which is necessary to feed the big V-8. It also integrates air ducts to help cool the brakes. The new hood - made of aluminum - is redesigned to clear the engine and the intercooler. The neatest detail, however, is the rear CHMSL (center high-mounted stop light), which is reshaped to add downforce at high speeds, eliminating the need for a rear spoiler.

An upgrade was made

The CTS-V cabin manages to look both purposeful and classy. Our test car's black interior was set off by the varying textures of its materials. The primary material is a matte-finish leather, on the seats, the center armrest, and the dash. The seat inserts, however, are upholstered with a grippy microfiber that mimics the look and feel of suede. The same material also covers the shift knob and the extra-thick steering wheel rim, which feels great. Shiny black trim and bits of chrome keep things from looking too dour inside, as does the optional oversize glass roof (its mesh shade, however, might not provide block the sun well enough for those baking in the sun belt). The optional Recaro sport seats are a must; the adjustable lateral supports in both the seat cushion and the seatback help cement the driver in place during high-g cornering, and the Recaros are more comfortable than the standard chairs even if you're idling in traffic. Even the dead pedal is larger than the standard car's, thanks to space made available by the V's electronic parking brake. As in the regular CTS, the navigation screen when lowered displays only the stereo information, but it can be raised for full functionality. The audio system includes a 40-gig hard drive and Bluetooth.

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