The Cadillac CTS-V lapped the Nürburgring in under eight minutes, which is a record for a production saloon. Though do bear in mind that protons are now lapping a circuit of similar length in 0.0009 of a second, albeit they’re not the Malaysian hatchback kind of Proton, and the large hadron collider doesn’t have any corners as tricky as Pflanzgarten. Anyway, by saloon car standards, the CTS-V is a bit of a weapon. Its supercharged engine is related to the one in the Corvette ZR-1, and in this application has the stick to beat the current king of the hill, an Audi RS6, never mind the M5 and CLS AMG. It makes 556 horsepower, and gets to 60 in 3.9 extremely smoky seconds.
Though it’s M5-sized, it’ll cost somewhere closer to M3 money when it rocks up in Britain. It shows, slightly. The dash is far better than other Americana, but not quite as lush in its finishes as the Germans. The manual ’box is clunky too, but better than the auto, which has an infuriating delay in its response to your paddle requests.
But, oh boy, it gets down the road well. The 19in rear tyres make a fine job of containing the vast torque from the ever-generous V8. I kept thinking it wasn’t as fast as it was billed, but that was probably because the engine’s delivery is without valleys, so you don’t realise how elevated is its plateau.
I’d like more steering feel to judge grip on the entrance to corners, but once you load the CTS-V up, the handling is just peachy, releasing its grip gradually enough to give you both time and options. The three-stage stability control is nicely judged, and trustworthy brakes and top- notch seats burnish your confidence.
It’s a good cruiser too. The rideis plush, moderated nicely by well- programmed magneto-rheological dampers acting on relatively supple springs and a stiff bodyshell, just as it should be. This suspension compromise, ride versus handling, shows that the CTS-V’s on-paper sophistication has been developed to real-life fruition.
But none of you will buy it, and wouldn’t even if it came in right-hand-drive (it won’t, unlike the other CTSes). It’s different in America, where Cadillac has had a decade’s steady, well-planned growth, but over here, the cars and the dealer net have had too many relaunches and too many false starts. There’s no consistency, and there’s absolutely no way a premium brand can do without that. You know where you are with an Audi, and it took Audi 30 years to get to that state.
Still, the CTS-V shows, like the Insignia does, that GM can do good, high-tech cars. Given it has the Volt on the boil (see Metal p32), that matters.