What It Is: Cadillac’s most ferocious performance sedan, essentially a four-door Corvette Z06. The CTS-V uses a 640-hp version of General Motors’ LT4, a supercharged and intercooled 6.2-liter V-8, paired with an eight-speed automatic that routes torque exclusively to the rear wheels. Cadillac introduced this third generation of its track-ready CTS variant for the 2016 model year.
For 2018, the CTS-V has a base price of $88,490, which includes a $1000 gas-guzzler tax. Our test car came with $15,445 in additional equipment, bringing the total to $102,935. The following appeared on our CTS-V’s window sticker: Recaro sport seats ($2300), the Luxury package that includes the rear camera mirror from the CT6 ($2500), a Performance Data and Video Recorder borrowed from the Corvette ($1600), 19-inch aluminum wheels painted a shade called After Midnight ($900), gold brake calipers ($595), and a microfiber suede steering wheel and shift knob ($300).
But the most expensive item on the option list was the $6250 Carbon Fiber package, introduced for 2017. It adds an exposed carbon-fiber splitter, hood vent, rear spoiler, and rear diffuser to go along with the car’s standard (painted) carbon-fiber hood. While you might think this would slash the CTS-V’s curb weight like an exposed edge draws blood from an errant finger, that’s not so. At 4168 pounds, our 2018 test car was actually 39 pounds heavier than the last CTS-V we tested, a 2016 model.
Why We Tested It and How It Performed: When we heard that Cadillac had added Apple Watch integration for 2018, we jumped at the opportunity to get the latest and greatest model back for another go-round. In other words, this is the sort of car that we’ll use any and every excuse to wheel.
The 2018 CTS-V produced similar results at the track to the last one we tested. We saw slightly improved numbers in roadholding and braking, where the latest CTS-V pulled 1.01 g on the skidpad and stopped from 70 mph in 148 feet. The 2016’s numbers were 0.98 g and 149 feet. This time we managed zero to 60 mph in only 3.8 seconds—two-tenths slower than the previous CTS-V, a deficit that carried through the quarter-mile, which it covered in 12.0 seconds flat at 121 mph.
And that’s the thing about the rear-drive CTS-V—unlike its all-wheel-drive competitors, putting all that power down is not a trivial exercise.
What We Like: Everything about driving this car is a joy. From the way it knifes into corners to the way its tail kicks out when you get back on the throttle, the CTS-V is happy to deliver whatever thrills you ask of it. It works as a tool of clinical precision as well as a tire-smoking, drifting hooligan. Also, burnouts. Thanks to its magnetorheological dampers, the CTS-V’s chassis is possessed of superb body control yet rides comfortably enough on rough roads to drive every day. We love the Recaro seats, although they can start to feel a bit tight when the driving tasks turn to errands and dropping the kids off at school. And from the outside this third-generation CTS-V is still pushing the design envelope as much as the original CTS did back in 2002.
Did we mention that Cadillac claims the car goes 200 mph? We would if we owned it, loudly and often. Although that number is unverified by us, Cadillac says the CTS-V is faster than any competitor, including Porsche’s Panamera Turbo. Because why do you buy a car like this if not in some small measure for bragging rights? Certainly not just to pair with your watch.
What We Don’t Like: The CTS-V is thirsty like a drunk on the second day of rehab. We saw just 11 mpg during our time with the car, well below its EPA combined estimate of 17. Even with its interior entirely wrapped in fake suede, the CTS-V is just as miserable to look at inside as the standard CTS, which costs less than half the sticker price of this one. And its back seat is short on legroom, especially on the passenger side where a hump for the fuel tank encroaches into the footwell. Of course, no list of grumbles with a Cadillac would be complete without mentioning the CUE infotainment system, which still torments drivers with its frustrating capacitive-touch controls, though less so since Android Auto and Apple CarPlay support was added.
Verdict: The Cadillac CTS-V has horsepower and handling in equally excessive amounts. If that’s all you’re after, it’s a roaring bargain in its class.
VEHICLE TYPE: front-engine, rear-wheel-drive, 5-passenger, 4-door sedan
PRICE AS TESTED: $102,935 (base price: $88,490)
ENGINE TYPE: supercharged and intercooled pushrod 16-valve V-8, aluminum block and heads, direct fuel injection
Displacement: 376 cu in, 6162 cc
Power: 640 hp @ 6400 rpm
Torque: 630 lb-ft @ 3600 rpm
TRANSMISSION: 8-speed automatic with manual shifting mode
Wheelbase: 114.6 in
Length: 197.6 in
Width: 72.2 in Height: 57.2 in
Passenger volume: 103 cu ft
Trunk volume: 14 cu ft
Curb weight: 4168 lb
C/D TEST RESULTS:
Zero to 60 mph: 3.8 sec
Zero to 100 mph: 8.1 sec
Zero to 130 mph: 13.9 sec
Zero to 150 mph: 20.1 sec
Rolling start, 5–60 mph: 4.2 sec
Top gear, 30–50 mph: 2.0 sec
Top gear, 50–70 mph: 2.4 sec
Standing ¼-mile: 12.0 sec @ 121 mph
Top speed (drag limited, mfr's claim): 200 mph
Braking, 70–0 mph: 148 ft
Roadholding, 300-ft-dia skidpad: 1.01 g
C/D FUEL ECONOMY:
Observed: 11 mpg
EPA FUEL ECONOMY:
Combined/city/highway: 17/14/21 mpg