THE HAMMERS OF HELL
2012 Cadillac CTS-V Wagon
This article is from our archives and has not been updated and integrated with our "new" site yet... Even so, it's still awesome - so keep reading!
Published on Sun, Dec 11, 2011
By: The LACar Editorial Staff
By Doug Stokes This one sat a lot of people back in their seats, including me. This low-profile, high-performance station wagon is an authentic "super car" which very clearly shows that an American company, with a name that was forged (for me) in overweight overindulgence, when it honestly wants to, can produce a vehicle that fully embraces clean design, totally unfussy honesty luxury, and true technical excellence. Oh yeah … This sucker also runs like the very hammers of hell. And, let’s get this out of the way in front: if I ever used the word-set “beautifully brutal” about any other machine in the past, I must here beg to rescind it in favor of the “V” … which had me at first touch of its fat, grippy, suede leather steering wheel. Short of a 700-HP Lingenfelter Corvette that I once took on a (slow) lap of the (then) Irwindale Speedway, this cool Cadillac, with 556 horsepower and 551 foot pounds of torque is the strongest piece of automotive street hardware that I’ve ever had the pleasure of … But even at that this haute rod was easy to drive and easy to like. In England they call these units: “shooting brakes” … although “shooting star” is much more like it in this case.
(There are two days that are always looked forward to on any LACar.com review drive: the day that the car is dropped off, and the day, one week later, when they come to pick it up. Six days in this car - - it just sat in the driveway one day - - was just enough. Any more and I’d have grown far too reliant on the sort of performance that was in hand and under foot in this one.) The guest check on this one was $72,080.00 and the Mulroney window sticker was two full pages of luxo-tech that left nothing to desire (at least that could think of). Well, maybe a Klingon cloaking device would be nice, but, you know what? This wagon honestly only attracted really sharp attention after the fact (As in “What … was … THAT!?”). Want to talk drivability? Because this luxury car had it oozing out of every pore. There’s nothing that this wagon is NOT up to. Snap the switch from tour to sport and you'll feel this CTS-V settle down and tighten up fully fulfilling the promise of adjustable suspension, even the steering firms ups, alerting the driver to the fact that this wagon was ready for some serious running. During my week with the “V”-wagon I will admit to a unspecified number of unspecified deeds that would have been highly ill-advised to attempt in lesser vehicles.
The above confession was made possible by this Cadillac’s wonderfully-nuanced magnetic suspension system. The magnetic refers not to the way that this one sticks to the road (although it could) but to the electronically controlled shock absorbers, which instantly react, conform, support, and do everything exactly, precisely right. The ride is Cadillac smooth and racecar accurate. Point this wagon, plant your right foot and carve that favorite long on-ramp quicker than you ever thought you could. This machine’s stability control software (Cadillac calls it “Stabilitrak”) is palpable, but not interested in taking the control out of the driver’s hands. Like every control in this one, this particular car is out in front of all of them, the driving experience is first, and the tech backs it all up invisibly. We laughed and pointed at the Cimarron, suffered through the late-to-market and then exceedingly bland Catera, marveled (and cursed) at the overly-complicated Allente, and got not much more than a passing glance at the zoomy XLR … But this Cadillac just blows all of the above into the dustbin. As expensive and powerful as this one was, there was no sense of the CTS-V being finicky or at all difficult to drive quick and cleanly.
I did have the Recaro hi-performance seat (a $3,400 option here) tightened up and set so precisely for my posterior that I had to make corrections after a big lunch. But what a command chair! And both driver and navigator get 'em here in the "V" model (so they're really only $1,700 each). Getting a seat precisely right (and heated, and cooled) is very important when you are booting this much car around as if it were an Austin-Healey Sprite. If you can't get this seat true for you … Go back and try again. Cadillac has been refining its faceted look for a while now and it all seems to come right in this squared-off, droop-snooted, knife-edged station wagon. The effect is sinister and the stylists who lofted these lines have not missed a stitch. It rained a bit during our sojourn in this wagon and the way that the water streaked straight back over the windshield told us that the "aero" was working as good as the styling. A complaint: I was not particularly amused by the bright yellow color that came on the big Brembo front brake calipers*. The window sticker says that we "paid" $595.00 for "Calipers – Yellow", it was the only feature in two pages of prices that I had issues with (I also have an Eastwood catalog with a wide array of far less intense/less obtrusive rattle cans of caliper paint that go for $9.95 each).
*The unliked color choice had nothing to do with the outstanding performance of the CTS-V's brakes, they were fully up to the massive power and had huge capacity to skim off speed without any distress of drama. There was another item line that I was not knocked out about and that one had a nice fat $1,300.00 price after it! "Gas Guzzler Tax" … isn't there some (slightly) more sophisticated moniker that Uncle Sugar can give this tariff? "Oh, I see that you've gone and bought yourself a gas guzzler there, Timmy …" This is a big, strong, fast machine, motion takes money … how fast do you want to move? For the record, the federally-mandated Mulroney calls this one at 14 city and 19 highway (on 91 octane fuel, by the way, which you might not notice until you unscrew the fuel cap for the first time). Our mileage varied ... as will others'. Of course this Caddy's 6-speed manual transmission is real culprit here. One does tend to use one's gearsets, doesn't one? Why? Because GM can and because Leno thinks that it's manly. But, and I'll lay money on it, I know that this car could be just as much "fun" with the 6-speed A/T. The good news here is that you can just about leave the car keys in and the motor running, because so few people know how to "work" and automatic transmission any more. By the way, my (quite accurate, if I do say so myself) double-clutch downshifts were a thing of beauty … They were also, for the most part, trees falling in the deep forest with no one around. The interior cockpit is damn near perfectly laid out. And, for all those "Waddleshedoo?" types there's a very evident 200 MILE PER HOUR speedometer that can be nonchalantly pointed at. All of the other control are matched to the great seats and tactile (double entendere intended) steering wheel, nothing is left to chance, nothing is ostentatious, but everything is up to the same high level.
Rear seat room for two is better than good. Now I don't play golf and don't have a big plaid carrying case with a bunch of pockets and clubs in it, but I'm told that a full-size golf bag would be something of tight fit in the aft compartment of this wagon. I suppose that's where the Cadillac's handy split-folding rear seats come into play. There looked to be plenty of room for a Costco run and we did park this one outside a Home Depot to take a few photos which must account for something. Bose surround sound, navigation system (I much prefer the built-in On-Star for finding whatever, wherever. It's far more personal, easier to use and understand), XM radio, a 40GB hard drive, Bluetooth, etc. are all on the e-side of the ledger and are all on the standard equipment side of the page here. They added $995.00 for a paint job that's called "Black Diamond Tri-Coat" and that changes from shiny black to metalflake silver (and back) depending on time of day and light angle. $800.00 got us a set of 19" "Satin Graphite" wheels which were made of neither material, but that looked very cool. There was also a $600 item on the menu for "Midnight Sapele Wood Trim Package" (no idea, no comment). And finally we knocked-on three hundred bucks for the buckskin leather ("suede") steering wheel and shift knob (!). To which, I can only add luxury is as luxury does … and this one does it big. Our friends in Detroit have made this Cadillac sound pretty darn cool. There's a hint of gear whine and a low rumble that only 6.2 liters of Corvette-derived supercharged engine can deliver. I'm sure that more than a few folks said, "THAT's a Cadillac?" as I left the scene briskly, but I never heard them.
The Cadillac "Shield" warranty looks pretty good (if sort of complicated) with a 4 year/50,000 bumper-to-bumper, 5 year/100,00 limited power train, 4 year/50,000 premium care maintenance and 5 year/100,000 courtesy transportation deal and 5 year/100,000 roadside assistance deal. If you have to ask … Yeah, this is a high-stakes, high-performance automobile (er … station wagon) a bracing drive, but a week was long enough in the saddle for this cowboy. I was fully able to love this one and leave it go … Not that there's anything wrong with that. - DS POSTSCRIPT … Ask yourself the following questions: Are you getting to work way too early? Are you taking the long way (more than 30 miles) home? Volunteering to drop off or pick up friends, family, neighbors, casual acquaintances at the airport or train station very late at night or very early in the morning? Towing your vintage racing car to the track and then turning better lap times in your "tow vehicle" during the noon-time drive-around? Then look around, you may be driving one of the above-profiled station wagons. For more information about Cadillac products, go to www.cadillac.com
SPECIFICATIONS Name: 2011 Cadillac CTS-V Wagon Price: $63,215 (base) $72,080 (as tested) EPA fuel economy: 14mpg/city, 19mpg/highway manual/12mpg/city, 18mpg/highway automatic Engine: 6.2 liter V8 with a 1.9 liter intercooled Eaton Twin Vortices Series supercharger Horsepower: 556 at 6,100 rpm Torque: 551 pound-feet of torque at 3,800 rpm Drive configuration: Front engine/rear-wheel drive Transmission: 6-speed manual/6-speed automatic with paddle shifters/limited-slip differential Front suspension: Independent, SLA, 29mm hollow stabilizer bar, elastomeric handling and ride bushings, 65N/m coil spring rate, Magnetic Ride Control with electro-magnetically controlled shocks Rear suspension: Independent, SLA, 25.4 mm solid stabilizer bar, elastomeric trailing arm bushing, 90N/mm coil spring rate, Magnetic Ride Control with electro-magnetically controlled shocks Wheels/tires: Front-19X9 forged alloy black graphite wheels/255/40ZR19 Rear-19X9.5 forged alloy black graphite wheels/285/35ZR19 Michelin Pilot Sport PS2 high-performance tires. Brakes: Front-15 in. vented/6-piston Brembo calipers Rear: 14.7 in. vented/4-piston Brembo calipers ABS, BA, Dynamic Rear Brake Proportioning Dimensions Length: 192 inches Width: 72.5 inches Height: 58.0 inches Curb weight: 4392 pounds Performance 0-60 mph in 3.9 seconds