Finally, the construction ends and we're on the A2 heading toward Hannover. Traffic is still pretty heavy, but the telltale round sign with three diagonal slashes finally appears, signaling the beginning of an unrestricted speed zone. I fall in behind an Audi A8 whose driver is clearly in a hurry, select sport settings for the suspension and transmission, grab the Alcantara steering wheel, and mash the pedal. Six-point-two liters of supercharged Detroit V-8 is on the muscle, and the Audi (an S8? Can't tell; it's unbadged) can't put much distance between us. It's big bursts of acceleration followed by hard, hard braking as we come up on traffic. The CTS-V coupe's 15-inch Brembo brakes are magnificent; no fading, no drama, just massive scrubbing of speed. At 140 mph, the Caddy is in its element: stable, composed, ready to rock and roll. There's a slight intake whine from the supercharger as I use the paddles to shift from fourth to fifth. We hit 150+ mph several times, and then we get one final fabulous lunge to 165 mph before we run out of clear road again. Yes!
Later, in the tourist town of Hameln, home of the Pied Piper, Al heads off to wash and gas the car while I finish coffee, and I'm struck by how good the CTS coupe looks in motion, especially from the rear. With its extreme slope, the rear glass looks great, but it has a minor distorting effect in the rear-view mirror, as it makes oncoming cars look tall and narrow. Rear-three-quarter visibility, not surprising, is compromised, but we didn't find that to be a big issue, actually. Other cabin complaints? We have both found these Recaros superb over the long haul, but the adjustment knobs for the seat bottom and the seat back are located too far back: your hand falls down and where you expect to find these controls, you instead find the lumbar inflators. The CTS-V coupe lacks blind-spot detection, lane-departure warning, and smart cruise control, features that quickly are trickling into competitive cars in this price class. And although the ergonomics are good and the materials are nice enough, the CTS cabin wasn't world-class when it debuted three years ago and certainly has fallen behind the likes of Audi, Infiniti, BMW, and Jaguar since, even in gussied-up V-series guise. There is, however, an iPhone connector in the center console, so all will be forgiven for some.
Back on the A2, truck traffic is heavy but there are a few openings where we can play, and in one of them, we come across a Mercedes-Benz E350 CDI (turbodiesel) silver coupe. This time, we only manage to get up to about 140 mph, which now seems a little slow, but there's also great pleasure to be derived from hounding this German steed, whose driver eventually drifts into the right lane and coolly appraises us as we come by on his left. Unleashing a 556-hp, rear-wheel-drive American grand touring coupe on the Autobahn? This is what I call a summer vacation.
2011 Cadillac CTS-V Coupe Specs
Base Price: $64,290
On Sale: August 2010
Engine: Supercharged 6.2-liter OHV V-8
Horsepower: 556 hp @ 6100 rpm
Torque: 551 lb-ft @ 3800 rpm
Transmission: 6-speed automatic
L x W x H: 188.5 x 74.1 x 55.9 in
Legroom F/R: 42.4/35.0 in
Headroom F/R: 36.9/34.6 in
Cargo capacity 10.5 cu ft
Curb Weight: 4237 lb
EPA Rating (city/highway): 12/18 mpg