2016 Cadillac CTS-V First Drive


In a fast car, there are six places on Road America's 4-mile track where your speeds can exceed 100 mph?and twice they can reach more than 150 mph. Without any modifications or special procedures, the 2016 Cadillac CTS-V hammered the track at these triple-digit speeds, three or four hot laps at a time, until the tank was empty. Gas card at the ready, Team Cadillac refilled it, and we drained it again in about 20 laps.Billed as two cars in one, Cadillac delivers on that assurance with a host of selectable integrated chassis controls with varying shades of performance and comfort. As with other cars of its ilk, a driver can select Snow, Touring, Sport, or Race drive modes, each with tailored gauges plus suspension, steering, throttle, and transmission calibrations. What's different here, however, is that within Race, five more levels of Performance Traction Management (PTM) vary the amount of electronically controlled stability and traction control, including a dedicated launch mode.

For Road America, we sampled Sport and Race, then PTM-4, -5, and finally, all systems off. Sport clearly held the reins too tightly and the traction and stability control indicators blinked like amber strobe lights. The beauty of Race/PTM-5 mode is that while stability control is disabled, freeing the car to dance and slide across the surface, a very sophisticated traction-control system waits in the shadows. A driver who runs out of talent could spin the car on corner entry or midway through, but on corner exit that same driver can whack the throttle to the floor without immolating the expensive Michelins or the fear of inducing throttle oversteer. It's the kind of unfair advantage that's been banned in many forms of racing, and PTM-5 is so adept at retarding spark (or eventually closing the throttle) that attempting to get the same confident drive out of a corner with all systems off proved next to impossible.

So it comes to this: Did Cadillac finally build the car with the correct ratio of elegance, power, and menace that the Germans refuse to? Just like the Corvette Z06 that donated its heart to the cause, the 2016 CTS-V has crushing performance, undeniable comfort, and a price that undercuts anything in its class by between $10,000-$15,000. Will enthusiasts flock or flee? The 2016 Cadillac CTS-V is about to draw everyone's attention to the King's new clothes and lay bare any doubt that this is the new benchmark in the supersedan class. Badges be damned.

The $1,300 Performance Data Recorder (PDR) is a compelling option on the 2016 CTS-V order sheet. Developed with Cosworth, supplier of telemetry electronics for Corvette Racing, the PDR was introduced in 2015 as a Corvette option. Now available on V-Series Cadillacs, PDR integrates information from a 720p-resolution camera, a dedicated GPS receiver (gathering five times more location data than the in-dash navigation system), and the car's Controller Area Network, or CAN, to access information on throttle position, engine speed, gear selection, braking force, and steering wheel angle. Combined data is recorded on a postage-stamp-size SD card for playback on the car's high-res display or further analysis on a computer within Cosworth Toolbox. We plan to compare the PDR's capabilities and precision against our industry-standard VBox very soon.