Comparison: Audi S6 4.0T Quattro vs Cadillac CTS V-Sport vs Lexus GS F

It’s not much of a stretch to say the horsepower wars have gotten a bit ridiculous these days, especially when it comes to big luxury sport sedans. In the early 2000s, cars such as the Audi RS 6, BMW M5, and Cadillac CTS-V made 444, 394, and 400 horsepower, respectively. Nowadays, their descendants churn out 552, 553, and 640 hp. So what are enthusiasts to do if they want a luxury sport sedan without the impending fury of 640 hp a toe away?

Thankfully, a handful of other cars fill the gap—all with badges signifying some of the performance potential of the top-of-the-line models but without the price tags, fuel economy penalties, or inevitable domestic squabble after you’ve gone through your third set of tires in just as many months. These three “compromises” represent two of our old favorites and one newcomer.

2016 Audi S6 Cadillac CTS V Sport Lexus GS F front end in motion low

Representing Germany is the 2016 Audi S6. Yeah, we could’ve invited a BMW 550i with the M Sport package or a Mercedes-Benz E400 with some AMG-branded door pins, but to us, the updated-for-2016 S6 better represents what this niche segment is all about: a balance of luxury, performance, and drivability. The key to the trifecta of Teutonic goodness lies under the S6’s hood, where a thunderous twin-turbo, 444-hp V-8 lives, and it’s just as happy loping along around town as it is banging off its limiter.


The other old favorite proudly represents the red, white, and blue. The 2016 Cadillac CTSV-Sport follows the tried-and-true luxury sport sedan blueprint: potent engine—in this case a 420-hp, twin-turbo V-6—a featherweight chassis, and drop-dead good looks. The combo was good enough to earn our Car of the Year award just two years ago, and it still remains a must-drive.

2016 Audi S6 Cadillac CTS V Sport Lexus GS F front three quarters 02

As for the newcomer, well, this one might leave you scratching your head, but hear us out: the 2016 Lexus GS F. The GS F at first glance seems destined for comparison tests with the Audi RS 7 or Cadillac CTS-V, yet its V-8 just doesn’t hang with the big boys. Bringing the GS F to a CTS-V and RS 7 comparison test would be like bringing a squirt gun to a bazooka fight. Putting it up against the S6 and CTS V-Sport evens the odds for the Lexus and provides a serious challenge for those two rivals.

The winner will offer up the best balance of luxury, performance, and real-world and track drivability.

All three of our contenders follow the same general formula. The most powerful of the bunch, the Lexus GS F, showcases Lexus parent company Toyota‘s aversion to forced induction with a wonderful naturally aspirated, 5.0-liter V-8 making 467 hp and 389 lb-ft of torque paired with an eight-speed automatic transmission that sends power out through a trick driver-controlled rear differential.

2016 Audi S6 Cadillac CTS V Sport Lexus GS F engine views

Cadillac made a name for itself selling big, heavy luxo-barges, but the CTS V-Sport displays the brand’s newfound penchant for smaller engines, more power, and less weight. The CTS V-Sport’s 3.6-liter, twin-turbo V-6 is the smallest and torquiest engine here, making 430 lb-ft of twist. As in the Lexus, power is routed rearward through a traditional eight-speed automatic.

As you’d expect from Audi, the S6 differs from its two rivals in its drivetrain. The S6 sports a 4.0-liter V-8 with two turbos mounted right inside the vee under its hood. The V-8 sits in the middle of its rivals when it comes to power—444 hp and 406 lb-ft of torque—but its seven-speed twin-clutch automatic and all-wheel-drive system set it apart from the Cadillac and the Lexus.

2016 Audi S6 Cadillac CTS V Sport Lexus GS F front three quarters

Given that the players in this segment straddle both the luxury and performance realms, they’ll be judged as such. The winner won’t necessarily be the fastest or pull the most g’s, nor will it be the cushiest cruiser, but it will offer up the best balance of luxury, performance, and drivability both at the track and in the real world, where these cars will spend most of their lives.

Our evaluations start in Los Angeles’ ritzy but rain-soaked Rancho Palos Verdes. Our drive loop replicates how we imagine the wealthy buyers of these cars will actually use them—heavy on in-town driving with some quick, hilly, twisty roads thrown in to replicate the escape to the owner’s mountain retreat. Afterward, we head east in search of a metaphor, toward a powerplant in Palm Springs to rack up some highway miles. We wrap things up at our Fontana test track after some instrumented testing.

3rd Place: Audi S6: All-Weather Autobahn Cruiser

2016 Audi S6 40T Quattro front three quarter in motion

From the get-go, the S6 revealed itself to be cut from a different cloth than the other two cars. The why is initially hard to pin down, but it boils down to it being much more mature than the Cadillac or Lexus. Think Johnnie Walker Gold versus Johnnie Walker Black. The maturity factor is apparent from the first glance at the Audi’s sheetmetal. “It’s technical, sporty-ish, inoffensive, like a North Face pullover,” editor-in-chief Ed Loh said. And just like a North Face, the all-wheel-drive S6 proved itself plenty capable during the pouring rain we experience on the first day of our evaluations. The twin-turbo V-8 and seven-speed dual-clutch combo is a force to be reckoned with. Quiet and out-of-the-way in Comfort mode, the powertrain really wakes up in Dynamic mode. The transmission bangs off blitzkrieg-quick shifts, and the V-8 offers up wave after wave of torque to surf. “This motor is under-stressed and simply magnificent,” senior features editor Jonny Lieberman said. “The eight-banger is also perfectly paired to Audi’s quick-shifting, seven-speed dual-clutch transmission, arguably the best cog-swapper of the bunch.”

The Audi’s torque-vectoring all-wheel-drive system was also much appreciated in the flooded L.A. streets, though it did have some downsides—chiefly its rather sluggish steering feel. The S6 is sure-footed, but there’s no fighting physics—its V-8 is still hanging right off the Audi’s bow, forward of the front axle. “The Audi’s tiller felt sluggish,” Lieberman said. “Comfort mode felt disconnected, and Dynamic is too heavy while still feeling disconnected.”2016 Audi S6 40T Quattro front three quarter 02

The S6’s air suspension, which gives it the plushest ride of the bunch, also doesn’t help things much when it comes to corner carving. “The tightness of the chassis compared to the plushness of the suspension only highlights the gluey and artificial feeling of the electric power steering,” Loh said. “It’s like night and day when compared to the CTS and Lexus—especially at parking lot speeds.”

Where the Audi S6 really starts to make sense is in a straight line. “This car is a total cruiser,” associate online editor Stefan Ogbac said. “It’s at home devouring long stretches of highway at extremely high speeds.” Testing director Kim Reynolds agreed, finding it “a very satisfying on-road conveyance.” What makes the S6 so great to drive over long distances is not only its plush ride and powerful engine but also its interior. Although the other two are nice inside in their own rights, the Audi package is the most complete with attractive, high-quality leather and the best infotainment system of the trio.

2016 Audi S6 40T Quattro interior

You wouldn’t know it by looking inside, but the Audi S6 is the oldest model here. Audi’s done a great job keeping the S6 up to date.

At the test track, the S6 is a solid performer. Its all-wheel-drive-aided 0-60-mph run of 3.8 seconds is the quickest here. The Audi’s quarter-mile time of 12.4 seconds at 111.4 mph is also the fastest of the group, although it begins losing steam by the end of the quarter. The Audi’s figure-eight performance falls in line with what we observed during our road loops—its 24.9 seconds at 0.77 g average lap is the slowest of the three, and its 0.91 g average of lateral acceleration is the lowest, as well.

Although we all enjoyed our time in the Audi S6, for us it was too singularly focused on straight-line speed and not focused enough on being a jack-of-all-trades sport sedan. There’s absolutely something to be said for its long-distance cruising ability, interior amenities, and performance numbers, but our other two competitors provide an better balance than the S6.

2nd Place: Lexus GS F: Lexus Turns A Corner

2016 Lexus GS F front three quarter in motion 02

With its gaping maw and Nike swoosh daytime running lights, the Lexus GS F sits at the opposite end of the spectrum. Whereas the Audi emphasizes comfort, the GS F focuses on sportiness, so long as you’re out of the default Normal drive mode. In Sport and Sport+ modes, the 5.0-liter V-8 sounds burbly and aggressive and the eight-speed automatic responds quickly to changing throttle demands. The Lexus feels most at home in these more aggressive drive modes, the engine happily singing to its high rev limiter as the transmission snaps off shifts. “Great engine,” Lieberman said. “Loved it in the RC F; love it much more in the GS F.”

The GS F is a touch less thrilling at more sane speeds. Although steering response remains pleasantly sharp in Normal mode, the throttle and transmission tuning is a bit of a letdown. Throttle response in the default drive setting is muted, and the transmission is reluctant to shift down a gear or three when called upon. “When cruising, the transmission in Normal and Eco will not kick down for a good second and a half when floored,” Loh said. “The delay feels like eons when you’re trying to drive fast.” Somewhat at odds with Lexus’ origins as a company making comfortable luxury cars, the GS F’s ride is on the stiffer side. The Lexus’ suspension, unlike the Audi and Cadillac’s, is nonadjustable—it’s set from the factory for track work. That and the GS’ already stiff chassis make for a ride that borders on harsh on California’s poor roads. “The dampers transmit a lot of vibration and shock to the driver,” Loh said. “I had a noticeable amount of head toss and belly jiggle, and my belly ain’t that big.”

2016 Lexus GS F front end 02

The head toss and belly jiggle are further compounded out on the highway, where the suspension struggles to mask road imperfections. The ride is properly stiff—an electronically adjustable suspension with a Comfort mode would be near the top of our list of wants. The quick steering ratio also means the Lexus struggles with straight-line stability at highway speeds, requiring near-constant corrections from the driver to stay in the lane.

With the exception of a few hard-to-find buttons (go ahead and find the parking brake, we dare you), the interior is well-executed. The brasslike trim materials are a neat touch, and we’re big fans of the red leather seats. “It looks the most like an $85,000 car,” Loh said of the interior, “so long as you don’t look too closely at the navigation screen.” The TomTom-esque Lexus navi screen and mouselike joystick control for the infotainment system do much to ruin an otherwise solid interior. Lieberman: “How on earth did this get past the beta stage?”

2016 Lexus GS F front interior seat 02

The Lexus GS F has a wonderful cabin, as long as you never feel compelled to dive into the mouse-controlled infotainment system and its dated interface.

Our guess? Lexus was far more focused on outright performance. Zero to 60 mph takes the GS F 4.4 seconds, and its quarter-mile time is 12.8 seconds at 112.2 mph, which is the fastest trap speed of the bunch. With its rear diff in Slalom mode, the GS F posts a 24.3-second figure-eight lap with a 0.81 g average. “Easy to drift like mad,” the normally reserved Reynolds said, “so much so that it’s easy to get carried away and do too much.”

We went back and forth on placing the Lexus in first, but what sunk it in the end was its highway performance and its price. Yeah, the GS F is quicker than the CTS V-Sport, but is it $14,000 quicker? For our money, no. “I dig the GS F,” Lieberman said. “Problem is, for the money you’d pay for the GS F, you could have the 640-horsepower CTS-V. Badge snobbery is a thing, but in this case, it’s straight-up ridiculous.”

1st Place: Cadillac Cts V-Sport: Cadillac Hits the Sweet Spot

2016 Cadillac CTS V Sport front three quarter in motion 02

The Goldilocks of the trio is the Cadillac CTS V-Sport. It’s neither too soft nor too stiff; it’s just right. On our road loops, the CTS expertly balances ride quality with handling prowess. The magnetorheological shocks ride well over poor roads and help the V-Sport rip around corners at speed. The nice, meaty steering wheel offers up plenty of road feedback and excellent turn-in. “I can’t believe how far Cadillac has come from waterbed cornering and Cool Whip steering,” Loh said. “There’s nothing soft or light about this beast; everything is thick and requires a bit of manhandling, from the thick-rimmed steering wheel to the, erm, erect shift lever.”

2016 Cadillac CTS V Sport front three quarter


Speaking of shifting, we’re mighty pleased with the eight-speed auto’s updated shift mapping. Shifts are now quicker and smarter than before, taking full advantage of the twin-turbo V-6’s massive torque curve. “I really dig driving this car,” Lieberman said. “I can’t emphasize enough how great this car’s steering feel is. Joyful—there’s no other word for it.”

These three offer top-of-the-line performance potential without the price tags or fuel economy penalties.

Things are pretty good out on the freeway, too. The Caddy is comfortable, buttoned-down, and quiet out on the open road. The CTS V-Sport is planted and confident at speed, the electromagnetic suspension isolating the driver from poor pavement. “Magnetic Ride Control really shines on the highway,” associate online editor Erick Ayapana said. “It soaks up bumps without transmitting any harshness to the cabin.” The cabin itself is “brutish and hypermasculine,” as Loh put it, with gorgeous baseball-glove leather and open-pore wood trim. Although backseat accommodations are tight, the front seats are comfortable with a commanding driver’s position. Cadillac’s CUE infotainment system remains a bit of a disaster, but hey, at least it’s now compatible with Apple CarPlay and Google Android Auto.

2016 Cadillac CTS V Sport interior

Ed Loh on the Caddy’s cabin: “It’s brutish and hyper-masculine, especially with the baseball glove leather, nickel-toned brightwork, and open-pore burl wood trim. I feel like I’m inside Hemingway’s humidor.”

Despite the 50-horsepower gap between it and the hot rod Lexus, the Cadillac CTS V-Sport puts up quite a show at the dragstrip. The slick black Cadillac accelerates to 60 mph from a standstill in 4.7 seconds and on through the quarter mile in 13.1 seconds, trapping at 109 mph even. The Cadillac splits the difference between the GS F and S6 on figure-eight time, lapping the course in 24.7 seconds averaging 0.80 g.

The Cadillac might not be the quickest car of the three, but the balance of driving dynamics, comfort,luxury, and value push it over the top. This is a Cadillac that will surprise people who’d otherwise never consider buying one. It’s a driver’s car, a luxury cruiser, and a killer value. Cadillac may not yet be the “Standard of the World” again, but it’s well on its way.

Third Place: Audi S6

As close a third-place finish as could be, the S6 is a little too soft for our tastes, but it’s a stellar car nonetheless.

Second Place: Lexus GS F

If this comparison test were purely about performance, the tightly wound GS F would have rightfully won the gold.

First Place: Cadillac CTS V-Sport

Yeah, GM has been winning lots of awards lately, but when you’re churning out fantastic world-beating cars such as the CTS V-Sport, praise is warranted.

2016 Audi S6 Cadillac CTS V Sport Lexus GS F front end in motion 02

How This Comparison Would’ve Looked A Decade Ago

With our three sporty cars each making more power than their supersedan predecessors, we turned the clock back to see how the originals stacked up.

2005 Cadillac CTS V front three quarter in motion

The CTS-V made its debut with a 5.7-liter V-8 making a modest 400 hp and 395 lb-ft of torque. The 420-hp CTS V-Sport’s twin-turbo V-6 matches the original V’s 0-60 and quarter-mile times.

“The Caddy’s turn-in is scalpel-sharp, the front end bites hard, and just as the car is beginning to push, a squeeze on the throttle brings the rear end out ever so gently and the nose back in line. Few sport sedans—or sports cars, for that matter—are so beautifully balanced and neutral.” Arthur St. Antoine, February 2005


2003 Audi RS 6 front three quarter in motion


“Press as hard as you like on the throttle—anytime, anywhere—and the Audi rushes forward in a muffled whoosh of pressurized potency. No hiccups, not so much as a chirp from the tires. The RS 6 spools up with so little drama, it doesn’t feel as quick as it is.”Arthur St. Antoine, September 2003


2001 Lexus GS 430 front three quarter in motion
Lexus GS 350

“The five-speed transmission kicks down, the tail squats slightly, and you’d better have the vehicle pointed in the right direction. Hit the brake pedal and hope nobody’s tailgating you: The GS 430 goes from 60 to parked in an amazing 108 feet, just a handful of feet more than a Corvette Z06.” David Newhardt, June 2001

2005 Cadillac CTS-V 2003 Audi RS 6 2001 Lexus GS 430
ENGINE 5.7L V-8; 400 hp/395 lb-ft 4.2L twin-turbo V-8; 444 hp/413 lb-ft 4.3L V-8; 300 hp/
325 lb-ft
TRANSMISSION 6-speed manual 5-speed automatic 5-speed automatic
0-60 MPH 4.7 seconds 4.3 seconds 5.9 seconds
QUARTER MILE 13.1 seconds @ 109.8 mph 12.6 seconds
@ 108.6 mph
13.9 seconds
@ 103.2 mph
FIGURE EIGHT 25.6 seconds @ 0.72 g (avg) N/A N/A

Motor Trend Real MPG Chevron logo 02

2016 Audi S6 4.0T quattro 2016 Cadillac CTS V-Sport 2016 Lexus GS F
DRIVETRAIN LAYOUT Front-engine, AWD Front-engine, RWD Front-engine, RWD
ENGINE TYPE Twin-turbo 90-deg V-8, alum block/heads Twin-turbo 60-deg V-6, alum block/heads 90-deg V-8, alum block/heads
VALVETRAIN DOHC, 4 valves/cyl DOHC, 4 valves/cyl DOHC, 4 valves/cyl
DISPLACEMENT 243.7 cu in/3,993 cc 217.5 cu in/3,564 cc 303.2 cu in/4,969 cc
COMPRESSION RATIO 10.0:1 10.2:1 12.3:1
POWER (SAE NET) 444 hp @ 5,800 rpm 420 hp @ 5,750 rpm* 467 hp @ 7,100 rpm
TORQUE (SAE NET) 406 lb-ft @ 1,400 rpm 430 lb-ft @ 3,500 rpm* 389 lb-ft @ 4,800 rpm
REDLINE 6,500 rpm 6,500 rpm 7,300 rpm
WEIGHT TO POWER 9.9 lb/hp 9.5 lb/hp 8.8 lb/hp
TRANSMISSION 7-speed twin-clutch auto. 8-speed automatic 8-speed automatic
AXLE/FINAL-DRIVE RATIO 4.09:1/2.12:1 2.85:1/1.97:1 2.94:1/2.01:1
SUSPENSION, FRONT; REAR Multilink, air springs, adj shocks, anti-roll bar; multilink, air springs, adj shocks, anti-roll bar Struts, coil springs, adj shocks, anti-roll bar; multilink, coil springs, adj shocks, anti-roll bar Control arms, coil springs, anti-roll bar; multilink, coil springs, anti-roll bar
STEERING RATIO 16.1:1 15.4:1 13.2:1
TURNS LOCK-TO-LOCK 2.2 2.3 2.8
BRAKES, F; R 15.7-in vented disc; 14.0-in vented disc, ABS 13.6-in vented disc; 12.4-in vented disc, ABS 15.0-in vented, grooved disc; 13.6-in vented, grooved disc, ABS
WHEELS 8.5 x 20 in, cast aluminum 8.5 x 18 in; 9.5 x 18 in, cast aluminum 9.0 x 19 in; 10.0 x 19 in, forged aluminum
TIRES 255/35R20 97Y Pirelli P Zero 245/40R18 93Y; 275/35R18 95Y Pirelli P Zero (runflat) 255/35ZR19 92Y; 275/35ZR19 96Y Michelin Pilot Super Sport
WHEELBASE 114.8 in 114.6 in 112.2 in
TRACK, F/R 63.6/63.2 in 61.4/61.7 in 61.2/61.4 in
LENGTH x WIDTH x HEIGHT 194.4 x 73.8 x 56.8 in 195.5 x 72.2 x 57.2 in 193.5 x 72.6 x 56.7 in
TURNING CIRCLE 39.0 ft 36.7 ft 36.8 ft
CURB WEIGHT 4,392 lb 4,007 lb 4,090 lb
WEIGHT DIST, F/R 57/43 % 52/48 % 53/47 %
HEADROOM, F/R 37.2/37.8 in 42.6/35.4 in 38.0/37.8 in
LEGROOM, F/R 41.3/37.4 in 39.2/37.5 in 40.6/32.8 in
SHOULDER ROOM, F/R 57.5/56.3 in 56.9/54.8 in 57.2/55.7 in
CARGO VOLUME 14.1 cu ft 13.7 cu ft 14.0 cu ft
0-30 1.3 sec 1.8 sec 1.8 sec
0-40 2.0 2.6 2.5
0-50 2.8 3.5 3.4
0-60 3.8 4.7 4.4
0-70 5.1 5.9 5.7
0-80 6.4 7.3 7.0
0-90 7.9 9.0 8.5
0-100 9.9 11.0 10.3
PASSING, 45-65 MPH 2.0 2.2 2.0
QUARTER MILE 12.4 sec @ 111.4 mph 13.1 sec @ 109.0 mph 12.8 sec @ 112.2 mph
BRAKING, 60-0 MPH 112 ft 107 ft 109 ft
LATERAL ACCELERATION 0.91 g (avg) 0.93 g (avg) 0.95 g (avg)
MT FIGURE EIGHT 24.9 sec @ 0.77 g (avg) 24.7 sec @ 0.80 g (avg) 24.3 sec @ 0.81 g (avg)
TOP-GEAR REVS @ 60 MPH 1,850 rpm 1,550 rpm 1,600 rpm
BASE PRICE $71,825 $71,445 $85,390
PRICE AS TESTED $80,800 $73,045 $86,770
AIRBAGS Dual front, f/r side, f/r curtain, front knee Dual front, f/r side, f/r curtain, front knee Dual front, f/r side, f/r curtain, front knee
BASIC WARRANTY 4 yrs/50,000 miles 4 yrs/50,000 miles 4 yrs/50,000 miles
POWERTRAIN WARRANTY 4 yrs/50,000 miles 6 yrs/70,000 miles 6 yrs/70,000 miles
ROADSIDE ASSISTANCE 4 yrs/unlimited miles 6 yrs/70,000 miles 4 yrs/unlimited miles
FUEL CAPACITY 19.8 gal 19.0 gal 17.4 gal
EPA CITY/HWY/COMB ECON 18/27/21 mpg 16/24/19 mpg 16/24/19 mpg
ENERGY CONS, CITY/HWY 187/125 kW-hrs/100 miles 211/140 kW-hrs/100 miles 211/140 kW-hrs/100 miles
CO2 EMISSIONS, COMB 0.92 lb/mile 1.03 lb/mile 1.03 lb/mile
REAL MPG, CITY/HWY/COMB N/A 19.9/27.4/22.7 mpg 20.2/27.8/23.0 mpg
RECOMMENDED FUEL Unleaded premium Unleaded premium Unleaded premium
*SAE certified


VIA: MotorTrend Magazine


The 2016 Cadillac CTS-V Is the Best Sedan America Can Offer


When was the last time you heard an engine and knew it was a Cadillac coming down the road?

Not lately, I’d imagine. The Escalade and ATS aren’t exactly the roaring type.

The 2016 Cadillac CTS-V sedan, on the other hand, is. Coming up the driveway or around a bend, that supercharged 6.2-liter V8 sounds like a grizzly bear.


It shouldn’t be too surprising. The third-generation CTS-V shares the same angry engine as the Corvette Z06. It gets 640 horsepower on its 8-speed, automatic, rear-wheel driver, with a 60-mile-per-hour sprint time of 3.6 seconds and an honest-to-goodness top seed of 200mph.

Pushing up the highway last week outside New York, the CTS-V ravaged the road wherever I pointed it. Push the gas and it’ll bound forward, all four corners at once, and devour asphalt as if it’s storing protein for a long winter ahead. It feels big and square to drive; this is no sport coupe. The rear-wheel drive feels powerful, if a little heavy, in a way that could soon define a nouveau Detroit opulence. This would be a good thing.


In fact, those stats put the CTS-V on par with the best sedans from Europe—the $94,100 BMW M5, the $101, 700 Mercedes-Benz E63 AMG, the $141,300 Porsche Panamera Turbo. While it neither performs as excellently as the Panamera nor looks as elegant as the Benz, it belongs right in the thick of the group as the best sedan America can offer. 

What You Can Get

The CTS-V is the high-performance version of the CTS sedan, Cadillac’s foray into the luxury sedan market that has been dominated by the Audi, BMW, Mercedes, Porsche, and, to a lesser extent, Lexus and Jaguar. There were two additional body styles besides the sedan—a coupe and a wagon, currently unavailable—and the three constitute Cadillac’s current best hope at full brand revitalization after years of stagnation. (Its formerly-of-Audi bossand upcoming XT5 will have a lot to do with it, too.)


Plenty has been said about the CTS-V’s abilities on the track. (Yes it has launch control; no, it doesn’t have an option for manual transmission.) The steering could be a little more responsive, but the performance traction management, magnetic ride control, limited-slip differential, and massive Brembo brakes manage the car with ease. You’re not going to do any acrobatics with this car (symbolically speaking, that is), but it is straightforward and eager, with body roll almost nil. There is no guile under this hood.

The real question is whether you’re going to want to drive it around town. Are you under the age of 40? If you are, Cadillac is hoping—betting—the answer is yes.

The Looks and the Price 

The sticker price will be the first obstacle you’ll face: MSRP on the 2016 model is $84,000, but that number will quickly jump to $90,000-plus once you add certain essentials ($2,300 performance seats, $900 19-inch wheels, $595 red brake calipers). Are you okay with that? It still costs less than its German competitors, but it’s by far the most expensive car Caddy sells. Its entry price beats even the Escalade and is surpassed only by the Platinum edition of that SUV.


Next up is the face. How do you feel about angles? The CTS-V has high-intensity headlamps shaped like long triangles at front; the rear is characterized by a small sport spoiler tilted up at a 45-degree angle and a bottom fender pointing slightly out in the center, like an arrow or the roof of a house. The Cadillac badge just above it has been blown up, sans wreath, more than in previous years—quite the enormous bit of Americana.

Look at the car straight-on, and you’ll see a narrow lattice front grille and long, horizontal air slats that sit between lines bulging up in the carbon fiber hood to accommodate the engine underneath. They form the shape of an H before shooting back past the dorsal fin toward the rear of the car. Steel quad tailpipes at the very back hint at the beautiful sound potential within. (While the angular side mirrors complement the effect, they don’t afford enough visibility.) The look is edgy like a razor, rather than curved, as with the more feline Panamera. CTS-V looks pleasingly modern and unique. You won’t mistake this for anything but a Cadillac. I like it.

Inside the Machine


Inside the car is a different matter. The 8-inch touchscreen and interchangeable instrument cluster certainly look cool, but there’s nothing like repeatedly pushing the inept “touch” screen buttons on the center console—which demand increasingly more frantic bumps in order to take any action—to make you feel insane. Trying to adjust something so simple as the volume proves distracting at best and dangerous at worst. The standard-issue heads-up display, heated mirrors, and auto-dimming mirrors provide some small solace, as do the curbside and rear-view cameras that help with parking.


You’ll find that Bluetooth, Bose surround sound, wireless charging, dual-zone climate settings, passive entry, and remote vehicle start are all standard, as they should be for a car in this price range. Cadillac also includes 20-way heated and ventilated seats in the front, though it would be better if they were totally leather, not just “trimmed.” I am not a fan of “suede” microfiber inserts along the seats and headliner; they feel soft, as if they should be in something a little more sedate, not something with such a serious, aggressive exterior. Other interior dichotomies include the sport alloy pedals that look race-worthy and come standard and the suede microfiber-covered steering wheel and shifter that cost $300 extra and seem out of place.

Still with me? Good. Here’s a further obstacle for you, one that has more to do with convenience than with cash. The car gets 14 miles per gallon in the city. Aside from the cost to your wallet (including the $1,000 federal gas-guzzler toll) and to the environment, that means you’ll be taking frequent stops to replenish fuel. I hate having to stop for gas—just get me in the car, and let’s go—and I suspect you feel the same. This is 2016, very nearly. There is no excuse for producing such a thirsty turkey.


How to Use It

I will note that while that a 14mpg rating lags behind the E63 AMG and even the $79,400 Corvette, it does no worse than the M5 and Panamera Turbo, and it beats the $89,000 Dodge Viper by 2mpg. It certainly beats anything even nearly comparable from the U.S. in terms of performance and practicality.


This is a real American sport sedan that will work admirably as a daily driver while more than keeping up with the Euro whips on the track. And so far, so good: Steve Martin, head of product communications at Cadillac, told me recently that sales of the CTS-V this year have “far exceeded” initial expectations and that “every single” one the company is building right now has someone’s name on it.

“It doesn’t look like that will change any time soon,” he said.

8Indeed. If you can stomach the interior inconveniences and you want to get in early on something verging on American greatness, this is the one for you.

This is a real American sport sedan that will work admirably as a daily driver and more than keep up with the Euro whips on the track.

Source: Cadillac
(Corrects the seventh paragraph to accurately reflect the size of the CTS-V line. Cadillac is not currently making a CTS-V coupe or station wagon.)

2016 Cadillac CTS-V Drive Review: World’s best sports sedan?

Think of the newest Cadillac supersedan as a four-door Corvette

Think of the CTS-V as a more practical Corvette Z06, one with four doors.

You already know the bare bones about this car: the same 6.2-liter supercharged V8 as the Corvette Z06 (minus the dry sump lubrication), making 640 SAE-certified hp and 630 SAE-certified lb-ft of torque sent to the rear wheels through a Hydramatic 8L90 eight-speed automatic and an electronic limited-slip diff; magnetic ride control at all four corners; ZF electric power steering that varies the level of assist depending on demand and conditions; traction control with more settings than a bridal registry; and a nice Cadillac-designed exterior that won’t be mistaken for anything else on Earth.

CTS V at speed

What’s It Like To Drive?

Oh man.

First of all, look at the numbers: 0-60 in 3.7 seconds (good!), quarter mile in 11.6 seconds at 126 mph (very good!), 1.00 g lateral acceleration (outstanding!) , top speed 200 mph (whaaaaa???).

This thing will go 200 mph right out the showroom door… 201.8 to be exact, which is what Cadillac engineer Brian Wallace did at the Transportation Research Center in Ohio. All for a sticker price of $84,990. If you went just by those numbers alone, the coming CTS-V outshines the competitors in almost every category. If you go by all the parameters that make a car a success, the CTS-V might win there, too.

To show us how all that performance potential stacked up on the road, Cadillac took us to Road America, a horsepower track if ever there was one, and horsepower is what this car has in spades, as well as deuces, clubs and whatever else they measure horsepower in. Our first session behind the wheel came, not at the track, but on the road to Road America, a wide Interstate nearly devoid of traffic, except for a couple trucks and a few citizen sedans all cowed into submission by what was no doubt draconian enforcement of the ridiculous speed laws in this state (55 mph???). We got our chance way out in the middle of corn- and dairy farm paradise when our co-driver pulled off the Interstate for the driver swap. We slithered into the tightly bolstered bucket seat, cinched-down the seat belt and stared ahead. We had to cross a road perpendicular to the Interstate then go down the onramp and back up to the highway. The road might have been a little bumpy, too. So naturally we disabled all traction assistance and floored the thing.

Yow! This car has 640 hp all right, and it felt like we were putting every single one of them down to the pavement right then and there. The rear end wandered around a little with all that power, almost scarily, as we briefly contemplated being known forever as, “Oh yeah, that idiot who wiped out the first CTS-V.” But a little counter steering — without lifting — and some barely noticeable assist from the active traction control kept it in line and off we whooshed, down the onramp at what felt like about Warp Factor 6. This is no ordinary domestic performance sedan.

CTS V parked

CTS V looks good when parked, tooo.

Indeed, Cadillac proudly displayed a little chart comparing this car to its main competitors: the BMW M5 and the Mercedes AMG E63. According to the chart it had: more power, more torque, higher top speed (again, 200 mph!), quicker acceleration, and for all we knew, a higher grade-point average and did better in singles bars than those Europeans.

How does Cadillac do all that? Apparently it was through what is known as “engineering.” The 2016 CTS-V sits on the all-new Alpha platform shared with the ATS and the coming CT6. The platform itself has been significantly strengthened in this application for more driving precision. Structurally the biggest change is a big aluminum plate bolted underneath the front end called a shear panel. Other Alpha-platformed cars don’t get the shear panel. Nor do they get the CTS-V’s strut tower brace or the braces that connect the motor rail to the engine cradle.

“All this is an effort to triangulate the front of the car,” said chief engineer Tony Roma. “It’s as stiff as it could possibly be.”

Engineers also retuned all 10 bushings in the front, replacing six of them with ball joints.

“Any unwanted toe change would really move a car like this around with such a big sticky tire,” Roma explained, referring to the CTS-V’s front 265/35ZR19 and rear 295/30ZR19 Michelin Pilot Super Sport summer tires.

There was interesting engineering in the rear, too. The half shafts are of unequal lengths to eliminate axle tramp under acceleration. The electronic limited-slip differential can go from open to “essentially locked,” depending on what you need.

“It understands if you’re asking the car for a certain amount of aggression,” said Roma.

And Brembo cooked up a bespoke set of steel disc brakes: 15.4 inches in front and 14.4 rear. It has the same five-mode traction control used on Camaro and Corvette models, too.

CTS V engine

CTS V 6.2-liter V8 makes 640 hp

We kept all of this in mind at Road America. It took us a couple laps (and some pointers from an engineer) to realize that we couldn’t shift quicker than the transmission in automatic could shift. We maybe would have liked some downshifts sooner, but these were soon enough.

The car, not to beat this into the ground, has horsepower. On RA’s long, long front straight, we had it floored just before we apexed the last corner entering the straight and hit 153 mph at the “suggested braking point.” We could have stayed on it longer, hit 155 and still made the next corner, but what’s 2 mph between friends? The car swayed just a little under heavy braking, and also under floored acceleration, but never scarily.

Once you click on track mode, push the traction control button twice in five seconds and you’re in Performance Traction Management, which is where you want to be at Road America. There are five settings here and we kept it in number three, which still had a stability intervention component. We only noticed it a couple times intervening in the motorcycle chicane just before turn 10 as we braked into and powered out of that tight section of track. The steering was as precise as a sedan this big will likely get, and the body roll control was likewise solid. Otherwise, it was just a really fast sedan through all 15 turns. Given a few hundred more laps, we could have carried a lot more speed into Carousel and up through Kettle Bottoms, but as it was we had a great time.

If it has a flaw as a track car, it’s weight. The CTS-V weighs 4,145 pounds, which is a little heavy to be flinging around on a racetrack. But just being able to fling this four-door sedan around on one of America’s great tracks in the first place is pretty amazing.

CTS V rear

Is this the view competitors will see?

Do I Want It?

Heck yeah, you want it. The thing we want to do now is line up a track day with this, the M5 and the AMG E63. Now that would be a fun day. America is on the grid in the luxury performance sedan contest.