I'm picking up my brother Greg and my friend Al at Gare du Nord (North Train Station), where they're arriving from Amsterdam. This task requires a visit to another subterranean parking structure, this one even more confined than the one at the airport. In these quarters, anything bigger than a Volkswagen Golf feels too big, and I'm very glad for the CTS-V's rearview camera when I back into a narrow slot. Put the car into reverse and the navigation screen rises quickly from the dash and the rearview image appears immediately. This sounds obvious, but the Cadillac system operates much more quickly than those in many other cars.
With my two passengers and their gear collected, it's time to cram bodies and bags into the CTS-V coupe for the drive to Normandy. The rear seats are not what one would call commodious, but they're not bad, and Greg can sit there without hitting his head on the big rear glass. The trunk, for its part, is surprisingly roomy, as it fits three roll-on bags plus Greg's huge hiker-style backpack. Hey, when you've got a big butt like the CTS coupe has, you score some cargo space back there.
On the A13 autoroute out of Paris, the CTS-V coupe settles into a comfortable gallop. The French police are notoriously tough on speeders and we're not pressed for time, so we take it easy, and I leave the transmission in drive and the suspension in Tour mode. Every so often I feel brave, hit the gas, take in the roar of the big supercharged V-8, and we rocket up to 160 kph (100 mph) or even 200 kph (124 mph). Easy, peasy.
AN ARTFUL JUXTAPOSITION
Our friends Steve and Pierre are hosting us at their chateau at La Houblonniere, France, near the Normandy coast between Caen and Lisieux. The 2011 Cadillac parked in the courtyard of this chateau, parts of which date to the 14th century, makes for quite a tableau: we've got ultramodern machinery juxtaposed against a building that predates the automobile by hundreds of years. I'm reminded of the contrast that evening when we're sipping Calvados, the region's famous apple brandy, in the chateau's grand salon. Its restored 18th century splendor is accented by a sleek Italian sofa and coffee table that look as modern and different as the CTS-V does outside in the courtyard. I think they call this "eclecticism."