What's New for 2010
The Cadillac CTS-V returns largely unchanged for 2010. Minor updates include a new cabin air filtration system and a new optional interior wood trim package with a synthetic-suede-trimmed steering wheel and shift knob.
The idea is as old as hot-rodding itself. Take a familiar production model, stuff in the biggest, baddest V8 you can find and -- voilą! -- you have an unassuming set of wheels that will leave even dedicated sports car drivers wondering what just happened as your taillights disappear in a cloud of tire smoke.
While the 2010 Cadillac CTS-V bears little physical resemblance to Detroit's original muscle cars, the parallels are hard to ignore. Using the same basic formula that turned mild-mannered cars like the 1965 Pontiac Tempest into the much-celebrated GTO, Cadillac engineers have transformed their mainstream luxury sedan into a high-performance monster that eats significantly more expensive European sport sedans for breakfast.
Naturally, those engineers have learned an awful lot about hopping up a standard model over the past few decades, and you'll find the sum total of that knowledge reflected in this second-generation CTS-V. But unlike those first factory hot rods, which are painfully crude by modern standards, this highest evolution of the entry-level Cadillac is as sophisticated as anything on the road.
Of course, with cars in this super-sedan category it's all about performance. And in this case, the performance potential borders on mind-boggling. For starters, the 556-horsepower, 6.2-liter supercharged V8 under the hood allows the portly 4,300-pound CTS-V to rip from zero to 60 mph in a tad over 4 seconds. It also helps the CTS-V top every other high-performance production sedan we've ever tested through the quarter-mile. Moreover, the rigid chassis and sophisticated electronically controlled suspension give the Caddy equally impressive handling. For proof, look no further than our recent super-sedan comparison test, in which the CTS-V edged out the legendary BMW M5 around the racetrack.
What seals the deal, however, is the bang for the buck this compact Caddy delivers. While we're just as fond of the comparably priced BMW M3 and Mercedes-Benz C63 AMG, it's hard to argue with the CTS-V's combination of world-class performance and passenger space, which makes it competitive with far pricier rivals like the M5 and Mercedes-Benz E63 AMG.
The 2010 Cadillac CTS-V does have a few faults, albeit minor ones. At 4,300 pounds, this sedan can feel like the big hunk of metal it is on a winding stretch of road. And the standard front seats leave much to be desired in terms of both comfort and support. But nitpicks notwithstanding, the CTS-V is a magical muscle car that's sure to win both the hearts and minds of modern-day hot-rodders everywhere.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2010 Cadillac CTS-V high-performance sport sedan returns in a single well-equipped trim level. Standard features include 19-inch alloy wheels, Brembo brakes, adaptive xenon headlights, an adaptive suspension with adjustable dampers, keyless ignition/entry (including remote start on automatic-transmission models) and rear park assist.
Inside, the standard features list continues with leather upholstery, power-adjustable heated front seats with driver-seat memory, a suede-trimmed power tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel and dual-zone automatic climate control. High-tech bells and whistles include OnStar, Bluetooth, a hard-drive-based navigation system with real-time traffic updates and a Bose surround-sound audio system with a CD/MP3 player, satellite radio, USB/auxiliary audio jacks and digital music storage.
Options include 14-way power-adjustable Recaro sport seats with heating and ventilation, a panoramic sunroof and a wood interior trim package.
Powertrains and Performance
The 2010 Cadillac CTS-V is powered by a supercharged 6.2-liter V8 -- a slightly detuned version of the engine under the carbon-fiber hood of the mighty Corvette ZR1. It sends a jaw-dropping 556 hp and 551 pound-feet of torque to the rear wheels. A six-speed manual gearbox is standard, and a six-speed automatic transmission with steering-wheel-mounted shift buttons is available as an option.
In performance testing, an automatic-equipped CTS-V sprinted from zero to 60 mph in an astounding 4.3 seconds and ran through the quarter-mile in 12.4 seconds at 114.7 mph. Braking performance was also excellent, with a CTS-V equipped with the optional "Track" brake package generating a stopping distance of 109 feet from 60 mph.
The EPA puts the CTS-V's estimated fuel economy at 14 mpg city/19 mpg highway and 16 mpg combined with the manual transmission, and 12/18/14 mpg with the automatic.
The 2010 Cadillac CTS-V comes standard with antilock disc brakes, stability control and traction control, front-seat side airbags and side curtain airbags. GM's OnStar emergency communications system is also standard.
The regular CTS on which this "V" model is based has earned a "Good" rating (the highest possible) from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety in both frontal- and side-impact crash tests. In government frontal crash tests, the CTS earned four stars (out of a possible five) for the driver and five stars for front passenger protection. The CTS also received a five-star government rating for both front- and rear-seat passenger protection in side-impact crashes.
Interior Design and Special Features
First, the bad news: The 2010 CTS-V's interior isn't much different from that of the regular CTS model. Now the good news: The CTS already sports one of the nicer passenger compartments in the segment. The overall look is high-class, with an attractive and functional layout for gauges and controls. Materials aren't class-leading, but they're generally high quality and a noticeable improvement over those used in the previous generation. The synthetic suede seat inserts and steering wheel and shift knob trim are an especially nice touch.
As noted earlier, the CTS-V's interior also sports as much head- and legroom as some midsize super-sedan competitors. The cabin's most significant shortcoming is the standard front seats, which are lacking in both comfort and the support required for spirited driving. The optional Recaro seats address both these issues and are highly recommended. Out back, the trunk offers a smallish 13.6 cubic feet of cargo room, and the relatively narrow opening can make loading bulky items difficult. The split-folding rear seat found on other CTS models isn't available here, but a trunk pass-through opening is standard.
The fact that the 2010 Cadillac CTS-V tips the scales at just over 4,300 pounds makes its astounding performance all the more remarkable. The combination of its 556-hp V8 and modest exhaust note makes the CTS-V deceptively fast. While the manual transmission is a good one, with a nice firm action and a surprisingly light and progressive clutch, you'll actually get faster acceleration times with the automatic transmission when it's in Sport mode. However, the automatic doesn't confidently blip the throttle on downshifts like a C63 AMG, and it's not the quickest or smoothest unit we've experienced.
The CTS-V's standard Magnetic Ride Control suspension offers a good balance between ride quality and handling via driver-selectable Tour or Sport modes. While it's capable of throwing down some seriously quick lap times, the CTS-V can't hide its 2-ton-plus mass on a winding piece of asphalt. That hefty feeling in tight corners is quickly forgotten, however, when you turn its mighty V8 loose on the straightaways.