2009 Cadillac CTS-V

Colum Wood
by Colum Wood


1. The Cadillac CTS-V is the first sedan to ever run under eight minutes on the Nürburgring.
2. With 556 horsepower and 551 ft-lbs of torque the CTS-V will blast to 60 mph in just 3.9 seconds!
3. For the first time the CTS-V will be offered outside North America and will be available with an optional six-speed automatic transmission.

Overcome by the roar of Cadillac’s new supercharged 6.2-liter engine, I rev-match while downshifting into second. Carrying as much speed as possible, I clip the apex cone, and squeeze on the throttle while unwinding the steering. The surge of power is unreal, as all 551 ponies shoot me down the back straight at the 4.1-mile Monticello Motor Club.

Third… fourth… and then I grab fifth, cresting the hill where a slight right-handed kink in the track becomes terrifying at high speed. With my foot firmly planted the big sedan is reassuringly stable as it pulls to the far left of the asphalt. No sooner have I straightened the wheel than I am at the first braking pylon. The digital readout flashes: 145 mph. Impressive! But there’s no time to flatter Caddy’s most serious performer yet.

As I stab the brakes, asking the Brembos to slow the 4,200lb super sedan back to second gear for a tight right hander. The brakes comply and the whole luxurious package sheds speed at an alarming rate.
Bravo! Now it’s time for congratulations.

Behind the wheel of the CTS-V on a proper racetrack like Monticello, it’s easy to see how John Heinricy set a new Nürburgring record in the car, destroying the competition and being the first sedan to drop below the eight-minute barrier.


The BMW M5 was Cadillac’s benchmark when they set out to build the CTS-V and in every way the new Caddy meets or beats the Bimmer.

One of the most important categories, especially when it comes to what sells a car, is the all important horsepower number. Topping the M5 by over 50 ponies is Cadillac’s 556hp supercharged 6.2-liter LSA engine. That number, however, isn’t half the story, as the V’s engine produces a monstrous 551 ft-lbs of torque at 3800 rpm. And with 400ft-lbs available at just over 1000 rpm the V can accelerate with either brute force or compliant ease no matter what speed or gear you are in.

All that power also means the V has an incredible straight line acceleration speed. Months ago Cadillac announced the CTS-V would have a 0-60 mph time of less than five seconds. As it turns out, the car will hit 60 in just 3.9.


Making power with this engine was the easy part of the engineers’ job, but putting it to the ground proved to be more of a challenge. A six-speed manual transmission is standard and for the first time Cadillac will offer the CTS-V with a six-speed automatic. The availability of an auto-box is a smart move and is likely to ensure sales of the second-gen V are significantly higher than the previous model. As well as helping the car appeal to a broader audience, the auto-box also gives credibility to Cadillac’s claim that the V is not just a monster performer, but also a well-rounded daily driver.

In both models a heavy-duty cast iron differential is used and a patent-pending system of different length axle half-shafts was devised to negate wheel-hop. An interesting feature of the automatic transmission is that once you start the car, every time you come to a stop it will revert to second gear and not first. Not only will this make for a smoother driving experience, we’re certain it will help prolong the life of the tranny. Thankfully, if you so choose, you can still drop to first gear by using the gear knob or paddle shifters, or if you are in Competition Mode, the car will automatically revert to first gear at a stop.


As for the suspension, it’s stiffer than on the CTS but still comfortable enough to please more than 90 percent of the client base. Cadillac has also installed an updated version of its Magnetic Ride Control suspension, which is the fastest reacting suspension on the market, taking in data and adjusting the shock pressure every millisecond. The benefits of this system can be seen on both the street and the track and it comes with two settings, Touring and Sport, which offer either a more compliant or performance oriented setup.


Overall, the street ride is smooth and comfortable and is made that much nicer by the Caddy’s interior – something the company made huge strides with on the CTS. At first it’s a little disappointing that the materials aren’t a big step up from the regular CTS but at the same time it’s arguably a more luxurious cabin than the Spartan M5. Priced at $58,280 it’s a bargain compared to the M5 or Mercedes E63.

The Alcantara shift knob and steering wheel, as well as the Recaro sport seats with pneumatic adjustable side bolsters are boxes worth checking on the order form.

In terms of design the pop-up display/navigation screen has been carried over from the CTS, freeing up plenty of center-stack space. It’s also easy to use – as opposed to the systems in the German competitors.

The V also has an exterior that you can live with every day. Sure it has a more aggressive front grille, larger wheels, tires and big brakes, but most folks will never know the difference between it and a regular CTS – much like how an M5 is only mildly more aggressive looking than any other 5 Series. Besides, considering how controversial the design of the regular CTS is, it was a smart idea on Cadillac’s part to follow the German’s lead and not overdo it.

Cadillac also outdid themselves on this car when it came to sound deadening, so whether you are driving the car hard or just driving it, the cabin is an oasis. On the track, with the engine pushed to the max, the volume inside the cabin was noticeable but not intrusive. Outside, it’s a different story as the twin-pipes bellow away. What is truly amazing is how quiet the supercharger is. The whine is muted so significantly that it could pass as a naturally aspirated motor.


Back on the racetrack, the CTS-V continues to impress with a big meaty steering wheel and pedals that make the car do what it’s told. The Brembos deliver excellent initial bite and seem to grab at an exponential rate, providing even better stopping power when you really need it and the pedal has touched the floor.

The traction control on the CTS-V can be turned off by pushing the TC button on the steering wheel and a double push of the button will put the car in Competition Mode. This not only reduces the interference of the Stabilitrak system but also tightens up the steering and increases shift times (in the automatic).

Unfortunately, the Stabilitrak system can’t be completely turned off, which is no big deal on the street but it can get in the way on the racetrack.


Were it not for the impeccable package Cadillac put together with the regular CTS, we never would have got our hopes up for this car. But we did, and Cadillac delivered.

The V isn’t just a car with more horsepower and a bigger engine than it’s competitors, it’s an engineered package that works, and – judging from our experience and the Nürburgring record – works to a superior level than what is coming out of Germany these days. It’s also a proper luxury sedan and we have to say that the powerplant, and therefore, the power delivery, is ideal for a big sedan.


  • Linear torque perfect for a big sedan
  • Overall dynamics of the package
  • Nürburgring bragging rights


  • Stabilitrak system on the track
  • Auto box is fine but customers will be looking for a double-clutch system
  • Would like more Alcantara/Carbon fiber options

The V is an all-star and the overall dynamics of the car, as well as its civilized around-town demeanor, make finding a reason to buy an M5 a tricky one. For decades, serious performance enthusiasts in search of a super sedan directly bypassed the Cadillac dealership. Those days are over.

Colum Wood
Colum Wood

With AutoGuide from its launch, Colum previously acted as Editor-in-Chief of Modified Luxury & Exotics magazine where he became a certifiable car snob driving supercars like the Koenigsegg CCX and racing down the autobahn in anything over 500 hp. He has won numerous automotive journalism awards including the Best Video Journalism Award in 2014 and 2015 from the Automotive Journalists Association of Canada (AJAC). Colum founded Geared Content Studios, VerticalScope's in-house branded content division and works to find ways to integrate brands organically into content.

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