V-Series OverviewCadillac CTS-V:
Cadillac’s CTS debuted for 2003, signaling a dramatic shift in philosophy and direction for the moribund American luxury nameplate. Wire wheel covers and fake convertible roofs were ditched for creased, polarizing styling and truly European road manners, and today the CTS looks better than ever thanks to an edgy design that has not gone out of style.
Because the foundation is already sound, it is relatively easy for Cadillac to create the CTS-V. Key ingredients include a 6.0-liter V8 engine making 400 horsepower and 395 lb.-ft. of torque. A six-speed manual transmission equipped with a dual-mass flywheel and a heavy-duty prop shaft transfers the power to the rear wheels, where a limited-slip differential and a 3.73 gear ratio help ensure a claimed acceleration time of 4.6 seconds to 60 mph and a quarter-mile time of 13.1 seconds at 109 mph . If you dare, the Cadillac CTS-V will top out at 163 mph.
To help the Cadillac CTS-V handle all this power and performance, it gets suspension modifications including unique front suspension bushings, Nivomat load leveling rear shocks, and thicker front and rear stabilizer bars. Performance-tuned steering guides special 18-inch alloy wheels wearing Goodyear Eagle F1 245/45R18 run-flat tires. Brembo vented brake discs with four-piston front and rear calipers scrub speed, and when you get in over head with this muscular luxury sedan there’s a stability control system to save your sorry ass.
Additional tweaks that help to justify the $52,115 sticker price (including the $720 destination charge) include stainless steel mesh grilles, special bumper covers with brake cooling ducts in front, side sill extensions, and snazzy V-Series badges. Inside, the gauges are unique, satin chrome trim livens up the cabin, suede seat inserts hold occupants still while driving hard, and the center armrest is lowered to stay out of the way when shifting.
Cadillac’s recent alpha naming convention might fluster loyal buyers and consumers alike, but the name STS actually means something. Dating back to 1989, STS stands for Seville Touring Sedan. Originally a cleaned up version of the chrome-encrusted standard Seville that was designed to appeal to people defecting in droves to Audi, BMW, and Mercedes-Benz, the STS ultimately became the top Seville trim level with the most powerful engine and the greatest amount of technology. When it was most recently redesigned for 2005, the STS moniker replaced the name Seville, and the car became the clear alternative to the traditionally-flavored front-drive DTS (previously the DeVille) at the top of Cadillac’s food chain.
To create the V-Series version of the new STS, engineers dropped a supercharged 4.4-liter V8 into the engine bay, a heavily massaged motor making 469 horsepower and 439 lb.-ft. of torque, 90 percent of which peaks between 2,200 and 6,000 rpm. For those keeping score, this power output makes the STS-V the most powerful production Cadillac in history. An all-new six-speed automatic transmission sends the power to the rear wheels, producing acceleration to 60 mph in less than five seconds. Other hardware modifications include a swap from the STS Sport’s magnetic ride control suspension to performance-tuned front and Nivomat self-leveling rear shocks, revised stabilizer bars, quicker steering, Brembo four-piston brakes and larger staggered wheels running Pirelli Eufori extended mobility tires sized 255/45R18 up front and 275/40R19 in the back.
Like the CTS-V, the STS-V gets stainless steel mesh grille inserts, brake ducts for cooling the front discs, revised front and rear fascias, flangeless 10-spoke alloy wheels, a bulging hood to clear the engine’s supercharger, and a revised rear spoiler. Inside, the Cadillac STS-V is decked out in hand-wrapped leather trim for the dash and door panels, Olive Ash Burl wood, aluminum accents, and suede seat inserts. Cadillac even offers a Tango Red accent color. The price tag is $77,090, including the $720 destination charge and $2,100 gas guzzler tax.
Cadillac commands a cool $100,000 for the XLR-V, including the $815 destination charge and $1,700 gas guzzler tax, vividly illustrating the transformation that has occurred at GM’s luxury division during the first half of this decade. Five years ago, a six-figure Caddy would have been a cruel punchline, but today it raises an eyebrow and a request for more information.
The Cadillac XLR arrived for 2004, a new wreath-and-crest icon loosely based on the redesigned Chevrolet Corvette platform but powered by a Cadillac Northstar V8 and engineered for added luxury and ride quality rather than outright performance. The creased-and-folded bodywork included a slick power retractable hardtop, and the car sold in low volumes to ensure exclusivity.
Supercharging the XLR meant adding a new 4.4-liter version of the Northstar V8, the same powerplant that’s rocking the STS-V. However, because of the XLR’s reduced hood clearance, it makes 443 horsepower and 414 lb.-ft. of torque in this roadster. Peak torque is spread across a plateau in the powerband that runs from 2,200 to 6,000 rpm, ensuring a 4.6-second acceleration time to 60 mph. The same six-speed automatic transmission as found in the STS-V does duty in the XLR-V, similarly equipped with technology dubbed Performance Algorithm Shifting (PAS), Performance Algorithm Liftfoot (PAL), and Driver Shift Control (DSC). Additionally, the Cadillac XLR-V is outfitted with bigger brakes, a modified magnetic ride control suspension, and larger 19-inch wheels shod with run-flat Pirelli Eufori tires measuring 235/45 up front and 255/40 in the back.
As with its V-Series brethren, the XLR-V receives a wire mesh grille, special badges, and unique wheels that are, in this case, handsome 10-spokers. The hood bulges to make space for the supercharger, the brake calipers are black with a machined V-Series logo, and the exhaust outlets are polished stainless steel. Inside, French-stitched leather covers the interior panels and the seat bolsters, while the seat inserts are suede. Aluminum accents and Zingana wood trim cover the remainder of the XLR-V’s cabin.