GM is serious. Serious about making Cadillac competitive with the upper-tier of luxury manufacturers. Serious about pumping up its corporate performance image with the new General Motors Performance Division.
Want to see examples of how serious they are? How about the, exclusive to Cadillac, Sigma chassis – used by the CTS, SRX, and next year’s replacement for the Seville? Incredibly rigid, easily the equal to anything ever to come from Cadillac’s claimed competition from Europe.
How about suspension engineers sending months away from friends and family to tune the latest generation of Cadillacs at Germany’s famed Nurburgring race track – a large ingredient in helping achieve the high standard of ride and handling that have made BMW, Audi, Porsche, and Mercedes famous.
How about breaking the taboo at GM of letting any car share parts with or equal the horsepower of the legendary Corvette? XLR will share the Corvette’s platform- the first car to ever to do so.
Let’s take a look at the latest, and arguable strongest argument, to-date, that GM is truly serious about making Cadillac a leading luxury player. The CTS-V.
The CTS-V is intended to play in the niche of the entry-level luxury sedan market marked by such legendary cars as the Audi S4 and the BMW M3. These are cars that are expected to bring sports-car performance and handling to people who need room for 4.
What has Cadillac done to make the CTS-V special enough to be noticed in this company? Plenty.
At first sight, you know this is no mere CTS. Aggressive mesh grille and wide-mouth front fascia with additional air intakes below the corner light modules (which direct cooling air to the front brakes) let the world in front know that something special is coming through. Side and rear ground effects, dual exhausts, V-Series badging, and 7-spoke, 6-lug wheels round out the exterior package.
The not-your-everyday-CTS feeling continues inside where you’ll find aluminum accents and trim (sill plates, gauge trim, shift knob, door pulls, and door handles), 180mph speedometer, as well as 2, count-‘em, 2 Driver Information Centers.
Why two, you may ask? Well, let’s just say the CTS-V is all about telling you things you never thought a car could. Want to know how hard you took that last corner? CTS-V will tell you peak as well as momentary lateral g-forces. Bored with just knowing the engine coolant temperature? You’ve got displays for oil and transmission temps as well. Oil pressure just too old-school? Now you can see tire pressures as well. Oh, and that’s just the left DIC. The right one, let’s just call it the ‘passenger display’ will keep the significant other entertained with boring data about miles driven, current speed (which should help keep speeding tickets to a minimum), as well as indicators for reverse and the 1-4 skip-shift indicator (light acceleration requires a shift directly from 1st to 4th to improve the EPA fuel economy ratings).
Other unique interior bits include leather seats with suede inserts (better to hold the driver in passenger in place during spirited back-road blasts) in either ebony or light neutral as well as a lower-mounted center arm-rest reported to make shifting of the standard 6-speed manual transmission, currently the only transmission planned for this hot-rod Caddy, easier.
But, enough with the eye candy and cushy bits, they are just for spectators. What really makes the V special is under that long angular hood.
The V borrows 5.7 liters of LS-6 V-8. Borrowed, since it was originally developed for the most powerful of Corvettes, the Z06. In this application, Cadillac has promised 400hp and 390lb-ft of torque. This is big power, American style. No forced induction, no low-torque/high-rev motor. Just lots of always-there power.
But, of course, the CTS is no Corvette. Cadillac is about civilized power. To that end, Cadillac has revised the induction and exhaust system to match the V-Series target of refined performance while still providing ample auditory feedback that this is a special car.
Funneling all that power to the pavement is a version of the Tremec T56 transmission (also used in the Z06). Featuring a new dual-mass flywheel for Cadillac-level refinement and a beefy 70mm prop-shaft to handle the torque the CTS-V will so gladly produce.
Putting all this power to the pavement is a CTS-V-specific limited-slip rear axle with 3.73:1 final gearing tuned, according to Cadillac, for maximum acceleration.
Now, it just wouldn’t do to have all that power and no way to slow it all down (not to mention it would put a serious damper on Cadillac’s repeat-buyer numbers). Cadillac didn’t mess around when it came to brakes. They went straight to the same source used by countless racing teams, Ferrari, Porsche, etc. – Brembo. Using Brembo designed 355mm x 32mm vented rotors up front and 365mm x 23 mm rotors on the rear squeezed , at all four corners, by 4-piston Brembo calipers (cast with a V-Series logo), this is some serious whoa that should stand up to even the most strenuous use.
So, CTS-V has stop and go covered – how about when the road turns twisty? As you might expect, Cadillac has covered things there as well – thanks to a little place called the N?Âºburgring. Like the original CTS, Cadillac spent countless laps of the ‘ring making sure the V would meet the demanding tastes of super-sedan shoppers.
The results will have to wait until we get a chance to sit behind the wheel and try the CTS-V for ourselves, but we do know that the tuning resulting in changes like a front strut-tower brace for additional chassis rigidity, higher spring rates (27% higher than stock at approximately 70N/mm in front and 83N/mm in back), new shocks with revised valving, new StabiliTrak tuning with 4-modes (including one specifically for track duty), and larger stabilizer bars – 26.5mm (up from 23) in front and 21mm (up from 16) in back as well as P245 / 45 W-rated Goodyear EMT (run-flat) radials on all new 7-spoke 18 x 8.5″ wheels.
We look forward to getting our hands on one of these for a test drive when it hits the market in the first months of 2004. It certainly sounds like one hell of a ride.