Shifting is its weak spot
Despite having the Z06's engine, the Cadillac's 8-speed automatic transmission isn't the same regardless of sharing the same number of forward gears. The Z06's transmission is a transaxle setup, where as the CTS-V's 8-speed bolts right to the back of the engine.
While changing the car's modes between Touring, Sport, and Track do change the shift patterns and algorithm, it's really not even noticeable. The Performance Algorithm Shifting and Performance Algorithm Logic, long ways of saying adaptive logic algorithms, will automatically adapt the transmission's programming to do its best to match your current driving style.
It did an admirable job in the back hills of Malibu. After a few turns of hard driving it realized what was going on and would hold gears longer, downshift quicker, and keep the engine revs up. Once back onto the sedate Pacific Coast Highway, it took only a minute or two to realize the change and adapt again. It's a nit-pick, but it would be ideal if the three modes would kick the transmission into far more aggressive programming to reduce the adaptation delay. The steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters are placed right, but they respond a little too slowly to inputs.
Brakes for days
The CTS-V's brakes more than make up for any transmission miscues. The Brembo system is strong, with enough force to throw you forward into your seat and they're so aggressive that they'll trigger the car's seatbelt-cinching mechanism in certain, exceptionally hard braking situations. Ask me how I know. The bite is strong with progressive pedal movement and no noticeable fade while being pushed on the back roads of Malibu. The front 15.3-inch rotors are grabbed by staggered 6-piston calipers and the rear's 14.3-inch rotors are controlled by 4-piston calipers. The result: stopping power that instills—and delivers—confidence.
A good value, all things considered
Starting at $86,295 the 2018 Cadillac CTS-V isn't cheap, but it does represent a good value. Tack on the carbon fiber package for $6,250, luxury package for $2,500, Recaro front seats for $2,300, performance data recorder for $1,600, gas guzzler tax of $1,000, dark gold Brembo brake calipers for $595, and suede-covered steering wheel for $300 that my test car was equipped with, add in the $995 destination charge, carry the 9, and suddenly you are at $102,735.
That's a lot of money, until you realize a base 2018 BMW M5 with less power starts from $103,595, and the 2018 Mercedes-AMG E63 S stickers from $104,400 without options. The CTS-V suddenly could be called a value, which is enough justification for us.