A Cadillac CTS-V... haven't we seen one of these before?
Last week, CAR Online brought you our first drive of the regular CTS. That car has been launched in America, but won't land at European dealers until summer 2008. It will be joined the following year by a diesel - crucial for any chance of European sales - and this 'Bahn-storming CTS-V. Our man behind the long lens is just back from a trip to the US where these latest photos were snatched. This is the V-spec car that will turn the steadily improving CTS from a dull-but-worthy exec into a rip-snorting BMW M5 rival. Click 'Next' to read the full story.
What's all this about Corvette power?
We've heard it all before, haven't we? Such-and-such a manufacturer aiming to topple the established super-saloon hegemony. Numerous car makers have taken aim at the BMW M, Audi RS and Mercedes AMG cars over the years, and Caddy is the latest. That's why the 2009 CTS-V gets the latest LS7 version of the Corvette's V8. Capacity is put at around 7.0 litres, and outputs are around 500bhp and 470lb ft of torque. Drive is sent to all four wheels to stop the dashboard illuminations that would result from a solely rear-wheel drive set-up. In the Corvette Z06, that means a top speed nudging the magical 200mph and 0-62mph in a blink-and-you'll-miss-it 3.9 seconds. Maybe the V's lofty target cars aren't so misplaced after all...
But it's all about finesse, not just sledgehammer speed!
Indeed it is. Throwing the horespower artillery at a car might make it quick, but doesn't necessarily guarantee it'll be good to drive. Cadillac knows that and has seemingly been lodged at the Nurburgring for as long as we care to remember. The standard CTS we've just driven is much better than the old car, and the engineers are now honing the high-performance V-spec car to make sure it goes around corners as well as it blasts down the straights. The large-capacity V8 should provide instant pick-up, and it seems that the rumoured forced-induction engine has been ditched. Seems much more in keeping with the lazy, US-style performance that a car like this shouldn't be blown, to our minds.
Just remind me about that V-badge
Cadillac launched its V-spec cars back in 2004 with the stated intent of taking on Europe's finest. As well as a string of sledgehammer engines, Cadillac tweaks the styling front and rear, dipping into the world's surplus of wire mesh for the aggressive grilles, adding bigger alloys and playing with the suspension settings for a lower, ground-hugging look. Good for posing, better for corner-carving. There's a much lower front spoiler, too, while the disguise here can't quite mask what looks like a power bulge. Engineers at Opel are helping out with the dynamics (the rear suspension is said to be dramatically different to the regular CTS's), while Brembo is developing the braking system required to stop all that heft from ballistic speeds. But will the car be sold over here? Europe is confirmed, but UK sales are under negotiation. This depends partly whether right-hand drive can be justified, and the chances of right-hookers will surely be determined by volumes. There are no two ways about this - sales will be low. Very low.
The acid question. How much?
A good question. Caddy's V-division is talking of a modest 7000 units a year, making the fastest CTS a pretty rare beast. Pretty much like most Cadillacs over this side of the Pond - the company has only shifted some 400 in the UK over the past two years, but Caddy has a slew of new, better cars in the pipeline. Prices aren't fixed yet, but if the CTS-V does come to the UK, it'll have to dirt cheap to attract buyers. Otherwise why wouldn't you stick with the M5/RS6/E63 status quo? We'd bank on a price between £40k-£45k, undercutting the opposition by up to £20k. It might have a saliva-inducing spec sheet, but the Caddy will need to be cheap to convert the sceptics in Europe...