A few people, who will remain nameless, have rightfully asked for more information on this M and AMG competitor's performance. Today I'll break it down into a very simple formula of where I think the CTS-V succeeds and where it doesn't in this small niche of performance tuned luxury cars.
The CTS-V gets two thumbs up and one down. Power and braking are at the top of the class and I never found the CTS-V lacking in either department. While the handling left a lot to be desired compared to the more tuned-in M, S and AMG counterparts.
Every time you touch the accelerator the LS6 engine comes to life. There is an odd knowledge as the driver that you have a near bottomless reserve of torque and horsepower at your command. If you can muscle this car past its limits you?re either on a racetrack or about to get pulled over. At first I was hesitant of the power, and let me explain before everyone calls me a girl or some other derogatory name. When was the last time you drove something with 400 horsepower? Can?t remember? Me neither. A friend asked me if this was the most powerful car I had ever driven and a quick run through of a bad memory had to say yes.
All that power to the rear wheels isn?t the norm and most drivers are just not trained for it. In a world of increasing horsepower and decreasing value placed on driving expertise, we could see 300Cs and Mustang GTs fishtailing everywhere. But the CTS-V does put that power to the pavement remarkably well. There?s not much feeling of the back end coming loose when pushed hard. For the one empty stretch I turned the traction control off I didn?t notice a huge difference, but it was enough to convince me I didn?t need the ?Competitive Driving Mode? often enough to risk any unwanted loss of control.
The four Brembo brakes on giant 14-inch rotors bring all this power to a stop magnificently. Even compared to the same brand on other performance cars I noticed them working better with this application. When you?re moving faster than you should be, having these brakes in place offers both safety and performance advantages. Of course I never drove faster than I should?ve been going, much.
All this performance value had me looking at ways to raise fifty large fast. But the only thing holding me back was the lack of steering response. Yes, the CTS-V takes curvy roads well, but there is still noticeable body lean and the wheel is just not as pinpoint as the Germans. There?s just no way around that fact. Did it bother me that much when the engine was roaring to life under me? No way. Did it upset me that I couldn?t feel the road in turns? Yes.
In the end I see the CTS-V as the American muscle to counter German fine-tuning. Drivers know which they prefer and can choose accordingly. I find the fact that the CTS-V doesn?t give up much of its comfort for all the performance gains remarkable. And it doesn?t damage the body like an M3. As a stealth sport sedan, get rid of the grill guys, the CTS-V succeeds. And as a first try, the GM Performance Division is probably just going to get better.