2009 CTS New Car Test Drive
Anyone who doubts GM can build a good car should drive a Cadillac CTS. In style, performance and technology, the Cadillac CTS is an American sports sedan that can go toe-to-toe with the best the rest of the world has to offer, including the BMW 5 Series, Mercedes-Benz C-Class, Lexus GS, Infiniti G35 and Audi A4. Available all-wheel drive makes the CTS a good foul weather car.
And the new high-performance Cadillac CTS-V can compete with the best high-performance sports sedans in the world at a much lower cost.
Fresh from being completely redesigned and re-engineered for the 2008 model year, the CTS boasts responsive handling and excellent high-speed stability, yet it's smooth and quiet around town or cruising on the highway. The ride quality strikes a perfect balance between smoothness and handling. The steering is accurate, with good feel and a nice, weighty demeanor. The car feels solidly put together and quiet. Inside is an attractive cabin trimmed with nice materials with an airy, open feel. Everything is easy to operate. Simply stated, the Cadillac CTS is a very enjoyable car.
The CTS and CTS-V feature sophisticated suspension systems developed, among other places, at the world-famous Nurburgring race track in Germany. Called the Nordschleife, the 14-mile northern loop of what was the old Nurburgring circuit is considered the toughest, most dangerous, most demanding purpose-built race track in the world. A 2009 CTS-V posted what may be the fastest lap at the Nordschleife for a standard production four-door sedan, an impressive feat given the hot rods BMW, Mercedes, Audi and others roll out. To prepare for this lap John Heinricy from GM's performance division simply shifted the automatic transmission into Drive and let it do its thing.
The Cadillac CTS comes with two versions of a 3.6-liter V6 engine, one with conventional fuel injection rated at 263 horsepower, another with Direct Injection rated at 304 horsepower. Both are smooth and responsive, but the Direct Injection engine offers more power and more response with almost no penalty in fuel economy due to its more efficient fuel management. The CTS is available with a six-speed manual or six-speed automatic.
The CTS uses rear-wheel drive, best for performance sedans, but it's also available with all-wheel drive. The AWD uses an active transfer case that normally applies 40 percent of the power to the front wheels, 60 percent to the rear, but in slippery conditions can apply all of the torque to either axle. A limited-slip differential is also available.
The CTS-V has a supercharged 6.2-liter V8 that makes 556 horsepower at 6100 rpm and 551 pound-feet of torque at 3800 rpm; it is available with either a six-speed manual or six-speed automatic, but in rear-drive form only. The CTS-V is a genuinely fast car. Cadillac says the CTS-V is capable of 191 mph and can accelerate from 0-60 mph in 3.9 seconds. We found the CTS-V to be one fast ride at Infineon Raceway in Sonoma, California, nearly as fast as a Sprint Cup car. It rides on the firmer side, like a European luxury sports sedan.
The 2009 Cadillac CTS comes with a 263-hp V6 engine ($36,560) or a 304-hp Direct Injection V6 ($37,560). The automatic transmission is optional ($1,300), as is all-wheel drive ($1,900), and the all-wheel drive is available only with the automatic.
Standard features include leather seating surfaces, dual-zone automatic climate control, OnStar with turn-by-turn navigation, a Bose eight-speaker sound system with CD, MP3 and auxiliary capability, remote keyless entry and programmable central locking, power windows with express-up-down on the front and express-down on the rear, power driver's seat and XM Satellite Radio.
Options include Premium Luxury Collection ($10,050) with a pop-up navigation and audio display, a 10-speaker Bose 5.1 sound system with a 40-gigabyte sound storage system, an iPod interface that will operate your iPod from the touch screen and display artist and title information, 10-way heated and cooled leather seats, split folding rear seats, Ultraview sunroof panel, sapele wood trim, 18-inch alloy wheels, power tilt/telescope steering wheel, remote starting and keyless entry. Most of these features are available in smaller packages.
The CTS-V ($58,575) features a supercharged V8, a limited-slip differential, Brembo disc brakes with six-piston front and four-piston rear calipers, P255/40ZR19 tires in front and P285/35ZR19 tires in the rear, and 10-spoke alloy wheels measuring 9.0 inches wide in front and 9.5 inches wide in the rear. The CTS-V also has distinctive exterior details, including a mesh grille and appropriate badging, to make it stand apart from the normal CTS. The CTS looks clean, elegant and modern, but the CTS-V, with its few changes, takes on a more assertive appearance.
Safety features that come standard on all models include front, side and side-curtain airbags, ABS and Stabilitrak electronic stability control and traction control. Optional all-wheel drive improves safety further.