The cabin of the 2010 Cadillac CTS-V spoke to the nature of the car. The gear selector and steering wheel were clad in suede, begging to be held.
The instrument panel shone brightly, with the small boost gauge in particular catching our eye with a promise of some supercharged fun.
Prominent contrasting stitching on the dash looked classy and bold. The Recaro seats, though totally adjustable, will hold you firmly in a position of attention, the bolsters prodding us into alertness. The V-badged Caddy will remind you a bit of the Concorde jet—sleek, luxurious, supremely fast, yet odd to behold. There is no question, even before firing up the CTS-V, that this is a driver’s car.
Power delivery in the CTS-V is pretty much what one would expect from a supercharged 6.2-liter V-8 in a Cadillac. It’s strong, smoothly rising, and absolutely wonderful. The same amount of power in other rear-drive sedans would be a lot more hairy, but the CTS handles it well, putting it to the ground evenly, and without too much noise. Regardless of how it sounds, with the pedal down, you’ll be handily aware of the ample power on offer. On loose or wet surfaces, the CTS-V took on a slightly different character. When driven hard, it still really wanted to give the appearance of great power being handled with ease. Without the advantage of all-wheel grip, however, the rear end floated from side to side behind us, within the limits of the electronic nannies. Despite losing traction, the car was determined to deliver the power to the ground, and took on a feeling of hovering down the road at the very brink of peril.
On the back of the wheel, rather than actual paddles available to shift gears, are two small buttons, similar in feel to those in other General Motors products we have tested, such as the Chevrolet Camaro (in whose case at least an attempt was made to simulate the shape of a paddle). In those other instances, while we would have preferred proper paddles, we didn’t think much of the buttons. In the Cadillac CTS-V, however, they felt truly out-of-place, and not just in the sense of an expected level of brand quality—the buttons were literally placed nearly out-of-reach for even our comically large hands. With hands at a relaxed ten-and-two, reaching for the button with the pinky required loosing grip of the steering wheel. With our usual east-west grip, buttons were just within reach of our longest digits.
Folks with normal- to smaller-sized hands may need to either lift to shift, or have hands placed awkwardly below the spokes of the steering wheel to easily reach the buttons (not a position we recommend). Alternately, full-time use of the gear lever is an option for drivers fed up with the buttons. But, that’s a small quibble in the grand scheme of things, particularly when the grand scheme happens to be a 556-horsepower luxury sports sedan with good looks and a great ride. Small only until one begins to explore the capabilities of the transmission. After managing to hit the button to upshift, the driver can expect to wait to the count of “one Mississippi” for the gears to swap. By that time, thanks in no small part to the curtness with which the engine revs through the low gears, one may often find the tach needle bouncing off the 6200-rpm limit.
After some time, we found ourselves getting used to the predictable nature of the power delivery, and were able to click to shift in advance of actually wanting to shift, allowing us to minimize such frustrations. Still, the lag is more than one should expect to get used to in an otherwise outstanding performer like the CTS-V. Advice: put the lever into sport mode, then leave the shifting up to the machine, particularly if trying to reproduce Cadillac’s claimed 3.9-second 0-60 time. Or, simply opt for the six-speed manual.
2010 Cadillac CTS-V Specifications —