Cadillac CTS-V (2009) at the ‘Ring

Published: 01 July 2007

My, this looks a bit of a goer

Yes, America’s muscle car is back. Cadillac’s red-hot CTS-V is undergoing final testing before the 500bhp monster is unleashed at the Detroit motor show early next year, ready for a European debut this time next year. There’s no word on pricing, but given Cadillac’s desperate need to boost its minuscule European sales base, expect the V to cost around £38,000 – enough to temp some buyers away from its AMG, Motorsport and RS rivals. Despite the wild rumours circulating about the CTS-V’s proposed powerplant – with extravagant claims of an 800bhp supercharged V8 topping the wish list – CAR’s sources say that the Cadillac will be powered by the formidable 7.0-litre smallblock all-alloy V8 found under the Corvette Z06’s bonnet. Look closely past this mule’s harlequin disguise and you’ll see the bold power bulges needed to house the V8 engine and still meet stringent pedestrian impact regulations.

It can’t be American without a V8…

While lesser CTS models pack direct injection V6 units, only a rumbling V8 would do for the performance flagship. And the LS7 powerplant is one hell of an engine. The dry-sumped bent eight is hand-finished, features titanium con-rods, a forged steel crankshaft and develops 512bhp at 6300rpm and a mighty 470lb ft at 4800rpm, making it GM’s most powerful passenger car engine and largest-displacement small-block to date. It’s hooked up to a slick Tremec six-speed manual transmission, driving all four wheels through GM’s all-wheel drive architecture that’s been tuned for a natural rear-drive feel. In a bid to trim development costs, it’s likely that the engine will be dropped into the CTS-V wholesale, giving the Cadillac some serious tyre-shredding performance.

So how fast is fast?

Expect the 1900kg CTS-V to blast to 60mph in just under five seconds with electronic limiters calling it a day at an easy 185mph – enough poke to take on both the smaller M3 and bigger M5. But Cadillac’s insiders believe the CTS-V’s intelligent all-wheel drive will give it a useful real-world advantage, allowing drivers to use more power more often. And after countless laps of the Nürburgring, the top dog Caddy’s wishbone front and multi-link rear suspension, brakes and steering have also been given a dramatic makeover. The big 4866mm-long Cadillac will ride on uprated springs and dampers to keep tighter control on unwanted body movement, while the steering will be tuned for greater feel. This mule even has a roll cage plumbed in, hinting that the CTS-V will also undergo a number of key chassis reinforcements.

But will the chassis deliver what the engine promises?

It should. Behind those 19-inch alloys sit four-piston Brembo brakes gripping 355mm vented discs up front and 365mm vented rotors at the rear. And the CTS-V’s StabiliTrak – Cadillac’s holistic safety system that integrates the car’s four-channel ABS with the full-function traction control and hydraulic brake assist – has been heavily recalibrated to take into account the engine’s performance. And it will look the part too – the CTS’s striking edgy looks will be complemented by a kerb-kissing body kit, vast mesh-filled front grille, drainpipe-sized twin exhausts, bi-Xenon headlamps and plenty of chrome around the windows, boot lip and grille. The V’s cabin will look equally enticing too, with its trio of deep-set circular dials, sleek centre console, pumping Bose stereo system, grippy front bucket seats and ultra-cool LED interior lights.

By Ben Whitworth

Contributing editor, sartorial over-achiever, HANS device shirt collars