Most farewell tours are anything but that — think Elton John, Paul Simon, Ozzy Osbourne. But this one, the finale for the beloved Cadillac CTS, appears to be for real.
Cadillac announced last fall it will cease production of the luxury sport sedan, including the high-performance CTS-V. Caddy’s upcoming CT5, similar in size but a whole new design, will replace both the third-generation CTS and smaller ATS, Cadillac has said.
So this is one final performance you may not want to miss as the rear-wheel CTS-V gets one more run for 2019. Its throaty growl has the muscle to back it up (640 hp), and it has the same athleticism that made it one of the great midsize luxury sport sedans on the planet.
Its supercharged 6.2-liter V-8 starts up like a rocket — can’t help holding the door open an extra few moments to listen. It settles down nicely, however, and behaves on the boulevard until you step on the accelerator, wake up the supercharger and put the 630 pound-feet of torque to good use.
This is the same heavyweight that sits under the hood of the Chevrolet Corvette Z06 and Camaro ZL1, though it’s a more refined version. Still, 0-60 mph comes in just a few ticks — 3.6 seconds — and the run to 100 mph comes in 7.5 seconds. Cadillac says it’ll top out at 200 mph. When the fun part is over, massive gold Brembo calipers (6-piston in front, 4-piston in rear), bring it to a halt in a hurry.
Sorry, no manual transmission is available but you’ll find the 8-speed automatic does an exemplary job of shifting smoothly and on cue. For those who want more input, switch to Sport mode — gauges will turn to a racy black-on-white — and run through the gears with the magnesium paddle shifters.
An optional domed carbon-fiber hood with vent and rear spoiler, front splitter and rear diffuser, functional side vents and quad exhausts show neighbors this bad boy means business.
The ride might be stiff for some but Cadillac’s magnetic control, which makes continuous damper adjustment as the road surface changes, does a good job of smoothing out the imperfections and keeping it composed on corners. Michelin Pilot Super Sport tires offer enhanced road grip.
There are four drive modes — Touring, Sport, Snow and Track (the latter is probably best left for the track only). For those enthusiasts, a Performance Data Recorder ($1,600 option borrowed from Corvette) can record video of the laps, race times and other data. And, to sharpen your skills, Cadillac includes a two-day training course in sport driving.
In daily driving, expect 16 mpg combined, 14 city, 21 highway with the wind behind you.
Inside, the CTS-V is a blend of typical Cadillac luxury and aggressive style, starting with 16-way power adjustable Recaro seats ($2,300 option) up front, trimmed in leather with suede inserts. Carbon fiber inserts accent the dash, console and doors. It also has a leather-wrapped and heated steering wheel and sport-alloy pedals.
The five-seat cabin is comfortable enough for long trips but rear-seat headroom is tight for taller folks. Also limited is trunk space; it’s adequate for most daily needs but, at 13.7 cubic feet, it’s below average for the segment. On the plus side, rear seats split and fold down for longer items.
A 12.3-inch reconfigurable instrument panel has bright, crisp graphics and a head-up display offers pertinent driver data at a glance. Some still find Cadillac’s CUE infotainment system a little quirky, but it’s better than it used to be. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are standard.
A dual-sunroof is available as part of a $2,500 luxury package, but the premium Bose Surround Sound system comes standard. And a helpful standard feature is a curb-view camera up front to help avoid scraping the front splitter on the curb.
Standard safety features include lane-keep assist with lane-departure warning and forward collision alert, plus teen-driver settings. A tire sealant and inflator kit replaces the spare tire. Optional advanced safety features include rear-view mirror/camera, surround-view parking camera, adaptive headlights and forward/reverse automatic emergency braking.
The CT5 will have some pretty big wheels to fill replacing the CTS. And the CT5 will face great foes from BMW, Audi, Mercedes in the global market. We’ll see if Caddy’s new entry is up to the dual challenge.