2011 Cadillac CTS-V: First Drive Review

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Row of 2011 Cadillac CTS-V Coupes at Monticello Motor Club

Row of 2011 Cadillac CTS-V Coupes at Monticello Motor Club

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It's not often that a manufacturer has the courage to turn dozens of auto journalists loose on a racetrack with pricey copies of its new, 556-horsepower performance coupe.

So we were eager to get behind the wheel of the 2011 Cadillac CTS-V Coupe and find out whether it was as much fun as the CTS-V sedan that's been on sale for a year or so.

Short answer: Yep, it is. And even hotter looking.

The CTS-V Coupe is the rakish two-door coupe version of the better-known CTS-V four-door sedan. The "V" designates the performance version of Cadillac's rear-wheel-drive midsize model, aimed squarely at the BMW 5-Series, the Mercedes-Benz E-Class, and the Audi A6.

In addition to the four-door sedan and the coupe, the CTS range includes a low-volume but very stylish station wagon (largely aimed at European buyers, who actually like wagons). A CTS-V wagon previewed at this year's New York Auto Show, so wait for that one next year.

The standard V-6 Coupe, which is just rolling out to dealers this month, was a surprise 2008 Detroit Auto Show concept. GM kept it completely under wraps until unveiling it in a kind of Steve Jobs, "Oh, and one more thing..." moment--to a rapturous reception from the auto press.

The production CTS-V Coupe was shown at this year's Detroit Auto Show, and our colleague Nelson Ireson was lucky enough to get a ride in it this May, but no wheel time.

Now both the standard coupe and the stomping V-8 "V" are coming onto the market, and we got to drive the latter. GM rented Monticello Motor Club--an exclusive private track normally only open to members--for two days, and set the auto press loose in a fleet of CTS-V coupes.

VIDEO: One lap at Monticello in a 2011 Cadillac CTS-V Coupe

Monticello's a challenging track or, as the pros say, "very technical." From off-camber blind esses to a very tight uphill U-turn, it requires a lot of learning to do well. Being our first time on the track, we focused on exploring the car and keeping it on the track.

Not that the CTS-V Coupe is a hard car to drive. It feels firmly planted at all times, on big 19x9-inch (front) and 19x9.5-inch (rear) wheels wrapped in sticky Michelin Pilot Sport 2 tires and a rear track 1 inch wider than the CTS-V sedan.

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Comments (11)
  1. For me it looks wrong, very flat face to it and some strange lines. Makes it look very ugly. Shame as performance is there.

  2. I'm not sure what planet Dom is on but that car is sick! Definitely a contender in the Audi RS5 and BMW M3 world.

  3. this car looks (and from the above review) sounds like it is really, really impressive. i am a bit of a "homer" with respect to rooting for US auto manufacturers so i love hearing about good product launches. may not be the family/class of vehicles intended to address some of the politician's push for green, green, green, but sure seems to offer a great product for buyers in this niche!

  4. I've always been into German luxury cars because, well honestly they were the only good ones. But this car, my God it's amazing. It looks so aggressive, has a beautiful interior, and just performs like a proper luxury car should. If I was to go out and buy one luxury car right now the CTS-V sedan would be the one. The coupe looks cool but with this type of car I just prefer four doors and comfortable seating for four.

  5. I've had a 09 CTS-V sedan for 10 months now (16k miles). Still feels like the first day. I have ZERO complaints. This car would be amazing if it was a BMW or MB. The fact that it is a Cadillac represents a major milestone for GM and the USA. Do not judge it unless you've driven it. Trust me.

  6. Yeah, I think I'd want the sedan too--coupes are just too restrictive. But the CTS-V line looks and sounds pretty amazing. Like the "brasher than BMW" thing. Am wondering if the CTS-V Wagon might be the sleeper of bunch?

  7. To Limo Liberal: Yeah, right, the ol' politicians are forcing right-thinking Americans to buy green cars they don't want. Look, in reality, the CTS-V is a nice toy but completely irrelevant to GM's success or failure. The Chevy Cruze, which you guys cover, is way way way more important to the future of the company. Ditto the Chevy Malibu. And the next pickup truck. Cadillacs are a rounding error, even if they're profitable.

  8. Im not a fan of Cadillac and/or American automobile products, but I must say the CTS-V is the best American sedan GM has concocted to date. Although I would prefer an E63, this car screams brilliance and performance and should give its owner a helluva ride.

  9. That car is awesome-just beautiful. Driving on a track and being able to open it up-makes me wish I was an auto journalist!

  10. Comments # 8 thru # 11 are link-spam crap. DELETE. #FAIL

  11. I have been the not so proud owner of a 2011 CTS-V Sedan with every option you can buy. Although this vehicle is a high performance machine, it is plagued with typical problems that have consistently caused people like myself to buy foreign cars. While driving off the lot, I noticed a rattle when accelerating to speed on the highway. Thinking this was a fuel issue, I put top of the line premium fuel in it.... Still had a problem. Took it to TWO cadillac dealers who said the same thing. "Yes, we know it rattles but it won't hurt the performance or reliability"... Had I purchased a 75K Mercedes, there would be ZERO rattles. Second, a small tip of a radio nob was lost due to a careless valet driver. I figured I would call Cadillac parts to rep

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