First Drive Review: Track Time in the New 2011 Cadillac CTS-V Coupe
Back in July, I had the chance to spend a week with the 2010 Cadillac CTS-V Sedan to check it out in daily driving, but this car was designed to be driven on the track. With Cadillac in the midst of launching its all-new 2011 Cadillac CTS Coupe, I recently had the opportunity to spend the day with the new CTS-V Coupe most of which running laps around the Palm Beach International Raceway in Jupiter, Fla. This course proved to be a perfect venue to test out the car's impressive handling, braking and acceleration capabilities.
As Cadillac continues to roll out the new 2011 Cadillac CTS Coupe, it is clear at just how popular this new car is. After less than two months on the market, the CTS Coupe is the second-best selling sports coupe on the market behind only the iconic BMW 3 Series, and the CTS-V Coupe is already outselling the Mercedes-Benz E63 AMG and BMW M5'¦ combined. One of the best marketing decisions made on the CTS-V line-up was to offer all models (Sedan, Coupe and eventually the Sport Wagon) for the same starting MSRP of $62,165. Another impressive selling point is the fact that, for the first time in the short history of the Cadillac CTS nameplate, the high-performance CTS-V Coupe will be introduced at the same time as its V-6-powered counterpart.
Like the CTS-V Sedan, the new CTS-V Coupe is powered by a 6.2-liter supercharged V-8 that produces a monstrous 556 horsepower and 551 lb-ft of torque. Cadillac claims that the CTS-V Coupe can go from zero to 60 miles per hour in just 3.9 seconds, but the more impressive aspect of this car is how it handles around the track. One element of the new CTS Coupe that improves handling abilities is the rear track which has been widened by almost an inch on the CTS-V model to optimize cornering stability. The CTS-V Coupe is available with either a six-speed automatic transmission with shift 'paddles'? mounted on the steering wheel or a six-speed manual transmission; Cadillac had both versions available for abuse'¦ um, I mean testing.
For the track portion of the day, the Cadillac CTS-V Coupe was put through its paces on PBIR's nine-corner road course that measures about two miles including a wide backstretch more than half a mile long. The first portion of the track consists of a handful of decreasing radius turns as well as a fun S-curve section that all help to highlight the car's Michelin tires and the upgraded Brembo brake system. The Michelin Pilot Sport PS2 summer tires provide plenty of grip as the CTS-V Coupe hits 1g through most of the corners including the first set which features a sharp left hander and a sweeping right hander. Out of the first set of turns, the track opens up to a decent straightaway with speeds getting up to about 90 miles per hour before the Brembos are put to work slowing down the car to around 60 mph for a the S-curves. Once this section has been navigated, the S-curves lead to the long back stretch that allows the CTS-V Coupe to flex its muscles. In the early morning runs, a chicane was included in the backstretch that kept top speeds to around 110 mph, but in the afternoon, the cones were removed and speeds hit into the 130 mph range. Following this straight, the brakes are once again tested bring the car from its triple-digit speed down to just over 60 mph before taking on the final turn.
In addition to the track, Cadillac also had some cars on hand to take out on the streets to check out the car in everyday driving. While the roads surrounding PBIR are mostly straight and flat, this drive portion did help to showcase the CTS-V Coupe's suspension system as some of the local roads were well-abused. As stiff as the suspension was on the racetrack, Cadillac's Magnetic Ride Control suspension helped the CTS-V Coupe handle the bumps in the road without abusing the car's occupants. At the end of the day, it was clear that the 2011 Cadillac CTS-V Coupe feels just as good on the streets as it does on the road course. Cadillac's StabiliTrak is standard for added safety in normal driving, but it also features several modes (including Competitive) for track duty that allows the car to get a little loose. As the great Harry Hogge from Days of Thunder once said, 'Loose is fast!'?
Aside from the powerful engine, the main draw of the CTS-V Coupe is its stunning exterior design which is mostly shared with the basic CTS Coupe. Key visual differences include a more aggressive front fascia with upper and lower mesh grille inserts, a taller LED third brake light that doubles as a downforce-inducing spoiler and the staggered-width 19-inch, V-spoke aluminum wheels.