Enter the “Cadillac Renaissance” plan, which has been created to set this domestic luxury marque apart from the pack with a new lineup of dramatic designs, a monumental jump in attention to detail, and the simultaneous infusion of more luxury and performance. Critics have often faulted Cadillac’s parent, General Motors, for using rebates and incentives to sell mediocre cars, rather than simply offering superior products. However, during the media drive of the 2006 STS-V in San Diego, we got a distinct feeling that the message has been heard, and that the Cadillac brand is leading the charge. It’s all in an effort to change the perception of GM’s former “standard of the world.” According to Jon Brancheau, director of Cadillac’s marketing and retail integration, “Folks who have been observing Cadillac over the past few years are now adding it to their shopping lists.” He goes on to suggest that V-series cars, including the CTS-V, STS-V, and XLR-V, bring performance back into the fold. This is a significant mindset, for it shows that the right people inside GM recognize the power of enthusiasts – deliver a vehicle, like the 469-horsepower STS-V, that impresses this car-crazy crowd, and the friends and family members reliant on them for buying advice may follow.
As part of this so-called renaissance plan, new taglines are emerging, like “fully-integrated performance luxury sedan” and “the highest horsepower Cadillac ever built.” The latter is accurate, the former a perfect example of marketing bull. So, feel free to ignore some of the cow pies in the brochures and keep a few, more tangible thoughts in mind when toying with the idea of owning a 2006 Cadillac STS-V: 469 horsepower, 439 lb.-ft. of torque, hand-stitched leather interior with terrific attention to detail, a long list of standard features (a sunroof delete is the only option), a somewhat stiff but comfortable ride, and the same cornering ability as a BMW M5 for thousands less.
No one says you have to buy it, but you’d be smart to at least consider it.
Becoming the proud owner of a 2006 STS-V is as easy as visiting a Cadillac dealer and signing over $77,090, a number that represents the car’s $74,270 base price plus a $720 destination charge and a $2,100 gas guzzler tax. And, apparently, company bean counters calculate that figure to be both profitable and competitive, as the often expensive package list is pared down to just one item – a sunroof delete option that lops $1,200 off the sticker. ‘Yer bare-bones, hot-rodding Caddy now runs $75,890, out the door.
Not bad, considering all that comes with the deal, like dual-zone climate control; a power tilt and telescoping leather-wrapped steering wheel with integrated stereo controls; one year of OnStar Safe and Sound coverage that includes stolen vehicle tracking, internet and email access, emergency assistance, and more; a 15-speaker Bose sound system with DVD audio and XM satellite radio; and a touch-screen navigation system. But this is a $77,000 Cadillac, not a gussied-up Chevy Impala, so there’s lots more, like eight-way power, heated front bucket seats, which like the power mirrors, climate control system, radio, and steering wheel, are part of the two-position memory function; a heated rear bench seat; one-touch up and down power windows; voice-activated controls; automatic leveling, high-intensity discharge headlights with washers; and the expansive sunroof that can be deleted if so desired. Available colors are basic – Black Raven, Stealth Gray, and Light Platinum, with the hand-stitched leather interior offered in Ebony, Light Gray, or two-tone Ebony/Tango Red.
For safety’s sake, the 2006 Cadillac STS-V is outfitted with front dual-stage airbags, front seat-mounted airbags, and side-curtain airbags, all of which will come in quite handy if the laws of physics prove to be too much for the standard StabiliTrak stability control and traction control systems. That’s not terribly likely, but with 469 horsepower on tap, there’s always a possibility that the errant lead footer will end up using this Caddy to play Paul Bunyan.
Nuts and Bolts
Engineers put a lot of effort into making the 2006 Cadillac STS-V worthy of its V-series designation, though at the heart of it all is a superb supercharged engine. The 4.4-liter, 32-valve, dual overhead cam, Northstar V8 with variable valve timing cranks out 469 horsepower at 6,400 rpm and 439 lb.-ft. of torque at 3,900 rpm, with peak twist available between 2,500 and 6,400 rpm. This aluminum powerplant is the same used in the XLR-V roadster, but because of necessary tweaks in that car’s exhaust manifold and oil pan, the STS-V ends up with an extra 26 horses and 25 lb.-ft. of torque Based on the popular 4.6-liter V8 currently used throughout much of the Cadillac lineup, the 4.4-liter motor incorporates the use of new heads, crankshaft, pistons, and connecting rods, a multi-layer steel head gasket, twin induction silencers designed to limit supercharger whine, and a Roots type supercharger offering 10-12 psi. Each engine is hand-built in Michigan, and ultimately connects to a six-speed, manually-interactive automatic transmission. When it’s all bolted in place, the stout powertrain catapults the 4,233-lb. 2006 Cadillac STS-V to 60 mph in 4.8 seconds, with a top speed governor-limited to 155 mph.
Impressive as it may be, straight-line performance is only one of the STS-V’s strengths. Handling is also enhanced with a sport-tuned independent short- and long-arm front suspension and an independent multi-link setup in the rear; front and rear stabilizer bars are standard, as are traction control and StabiliTrak stability control systems and a limited slip differential. Speed-sensitive steering, with a quicker response than offered in the regular STS, further aids overall control. Collectively, this package has led to a 15-percent increase in ride stiffness, a 35-percent increase in roll stiffness, and a 17-percent decrease in understeer. According to Cadillac, the 2006 STS-V pulls 0.87g on the skid pad, which, not so coincidentally, is the same figure reported for the 2006 BMW M5.
Charged with halting all of that forward momentum is a beefy antilock disc braking system with electronic brake assistance. Those Brembo components sit behind alloy wheels rolling on 255/45R18 Pirelli Euforia tires up front and 275/40R19s out back. These are run-flats supposedly good for 50 miles of travel after being damaged.
Subtlety is a trait that has been traditionally absent from performance-car design, what with huge hood scoops, garish wings, and those go-fast racing stripes. However, Cadillac is taking a different stance, appropriately blending luxurious sophistication with just enough sport to create a genuine sleeper. Design upgrades for the 2006 STS-V include a chrome mesh grille above and below the bumper that aids engine cooling by 34 percent; integrated front fog lights; a raised dome hood that hides the supercharger and gives the Caddy a more powerful appearance; rocker panels and front and rear fascias that sit lower to the ground; dual chrome exhaust tips; a deck lid spoiler that’s 14-mm higher than normal; and 10-spoke alloy wheels. Fellow motorists may never notice this as anything other than a traditional STS, that is, until it hauls tail away from a stop light with its V-series and supercharged badges just a blur.
For the interior of the 2006 Cadillac STS-V, designers decided to run a little experiment. Recognizing that luxury cars require an extra-level of refinement, they fitted each model with a hand-sewn, 100-percent genuine leather interior (the same is being done with the 2006 XLR-V). Ultra-suede inserts are stitched into the seats to keep driver and passengers firmly planted during spirited cornering, and olive ash burl wood trim is used on the instrument panel, shifter surround, and door grab handles. The craftsmanship is above and beyond what buyers may be used to in a Cadillac, and is frankly surprising from the typical tight-gaps-are-for-sissies General Motors. Overall, all of the panels in our test car felt tight and secure, leaving only complaints about the loose headliner around the sunroof. Where there wasn’t leather there was padded plastic, except for more remote areas like the rear panel of the center console. On a very positive note, Cadillac reps suggest that this new approach of using quality materials to construct a quality interior will make its way across the lineup.
This is not your grandfather’s Cadillac. This is not your grandfather’s Cadillac. It’s the mantra quietly chanted by guys and gals at GM’s luxury division, though if you can’t believe it, fear not – a quick spin in the 2006 STS-V will hammer it home until your ears ring. That’s what a supercharged V8 does after the push-button starter brings it to life, stirring 469 horses and 439 lb.-ft. of torque, all sitting anxiously at idle as the melodic rumble of a powerful eight-cylinder engine thumps in the background.
Then you nail it.
Upwards of 435 lb.-ft. of torque is a glorious thing, and is necessary to move a 4,233-lb. mass to 60 mph in under five seconds. The 2006 Cadillac STS-V is indeed a very quick sedan, not only in terms of straight line performance, but also in the corners, where the independent suspension does a commendable job of controlling body roll and the Pirelli Euforia tires hold on tight, with just a bit of scrub on extremely aggressive turns. Despite its rear-wheel-drive platform, the STS-V exhibits a bit of understeer in the twisties. A competitive driving mode (CDM), as found on the 2006 Chevrolet Corvette, is selected by tapping the traction control button on the center console, and supposedly expands the limits of the StabiliTrak stability control system for livelier driving, though we were unable to discern any difference while traveling on public roads – if you get some track time with the STS-V, CDM might add an extra dose of excitement.
More appropriate for the street is the sport mode offered by the six-speed automatic transmission, a unit that provides seamless shifts under almost all circumstances, and is even smooth when the throttle is planted for sudden downshifts. Move the shifter to the right for sport mode, where the tranny will hold gears longer and keep the revs higher for better performance. There’s also a cool rev-matching feature that blips the throttle on downshifts, mimicking the heel-and-toe action of skilled race car drivers. For even more control, the knob can be tapped up or down for manual shifts, and the transmission will keep the engine knocking at the rev limiter rather than automatically shifting up a gear. Big Brembo brakes do an excellent job of bringing the Caddy to a quick stop, and seem to be impervious to fade even after steady abuse.
Though it’s engineered to be a capable performer, the 2006 Cadillac STS-V is also a comfortable luxury sedan. The power tilt and telescoping leather-wrapped steering wheel is great to hold, though like those in the Corvette and XLR, it’s too big. Front seats are spacious, and all outboard passengers enjoy padded armrests and door sills, while all five occupants can have their buns toasted. Around town and on mundane highway cruises, drivers will appreciate the quiet interior (though those induction silencers hardly eliminate supercharger whine at higher revs) and the compliant ride that’s a little stiff, yet offers a pleasant blend between sport and luxury.
Lest folks think the 2006 Cadillac STS-V the perfect car, there are a few negative points to consider. First is the lack of interior space, evidenced by the tight rear seat area with minimal leg room and no center headrest, and the narrow front foot wells necessitated by the wide powertrain tunnel. And the door and center console, though padded, are still tough on the knees in hard corners. Second is the steering, which could use a touch more road feel, and though it’s labeled speed-sensitive, needs more heft and feedback at higher speeds.
How does the 2006 Cadillac STS-V compare to the regular STS?
The base 2006 Cadillac STS is equipped with a 255-horsepower, 3.6-liter V6 and starts at $41,770 including a $720 destination charge. A 320-horsepower, Northstar V8 model is also available with a sticker price of $48,240. Both versions include front side and side-curtain airbags, OnStar communications, leather upholstery, a Bose sound system with XM satellite radio, and numerous other standard features. The STS-V comes fully loaded at $77,090 with 469 horsepower.
In terms of power and price, how does the 2006 Cadillac STS-V stack up against the BMW M5?
The 2006 Cadillac STS-V, powered by a 4.4-liter supercharged V8 putting out 469 horsepower and 430 lb.-ft. of torque, is fully loaded and sells for $77,090, including a $720 destination charge. The 2006 BMW M5 puts out 500 horses and 383 lb.-ft. of torque and carries a base price of $81,895, including a $695 destination charge. However, the BMW has a much longer options list including some items that are standard on the Cadillac, like a power sunroof and a heated rear seat, and others that are unique, such as a heads-up display, and rear side airbags.
Is the 2006 Cadillac STS-V fun to drive?
Absolutely. There’s gobs of power to have fun with, the suspension and tires keep things steady on those hard-core back roads, and the stability and traction control systems err on the side of safety yet aren’t the least bit intrusive. The only suggested improvements include heavier, more responsive steering at speed, and more V8 growl to drown out the supercharger.
Test Vehicle: 2006 Cadillac STS-V
Base Price: $77,090 (including a $720 destination charge and $2,100 gas guzzler tax)
Engine Size and Type: Supercharged Northstar 4.4-liter V8
Engine Horsepower: 469 at 6,400 rpm
Engine Torque: 439 lb.-ft. at 3,900 rpm
Transmission: Six-speed automatic
Curb Weight, lbs.: 4,233
EPA Fuel Economy (city/highway): 15/23 mpg
Observed Fuel economy: 14.4 mpg
Length: 197.6 inches
Width: 72.6 inches
Wheelbase: 116.4 inches
Height: 58.2 inches
Legroom (front/rear): 42.6/38.3 inches
Headroom (front/rear): 38.7/37.9 inches
Max. Seating Capacity: Five
Max. Cargo Volume: 13.8 cubic feet
Competitors: Audi S6, BMW M5, Chrysler 300C SRT-8, Dodge Charger SRT-8, Jaguar XJR, Maserati Quattroporte, Mercedes-Benz E55 AMG.
Photos courtesy of Cadillac