by Jason Torchinsky
July 31, 2015
I’m coming into this review pretty conflicted. Not about the car — the new 2016 Cadillac CTS-V is an extremely impressive vehicle, and I’ll cover why in plenty of detail — I’m conflicted about what this car actually means both to Cadillac and to us Americans, as people. It’s not bad, necessarily — well, here, we’ll just talk through this.
(Full Disclosure: Cadillac was so eager to let me drive one of their fancy new cars that they flew me to Kohler, WI, where I ate sushi surrounded by more toilets and bidets than I’ve ever seen at once. It’s sublime.)
My conflict stems from a few things, most of which have to do with how well-engineered and generally just how good this car is. It’s not that I don’t expect a car that starts at $83,000 to be excellent, it’s more the manner by which this car is good that’s making me think.
See, this car is a Cadillac. I grew up around Cadillacs, thanks to a grandfather, a Romanian tinsmith who came to the US on a cargo ship. As soon as he was financially able, he always bought Cadillacs, and I have many fond memories of riding on the armrest of the front bench seat in his big, gold Sedan de Ville in the era before people cared if their kids flew through windshields.
A Cadillac was a car with a very specific set of jobs to do:
• Remind people outside the car how successful/important you are with the styling and sheer scale of the car
• Remind you how successful/important you are with the interior materials, design, and gadgetry
• Keep everyone inside lavishly comfortable
• Have enough power from a big V8 to pass all those other chumps effortlessly
… and that was pretty much it. I think if you took a well-to-do, successful, average Cadillac buyer from 1968 and described to him, in detail, what the 2016 CTS-V is capable of, with its 640 HP motor, transmission and differential coolers, 6-piston front brakes, advanced traction control, and all that, his answer would most likely be “what the fuck you think I’m going to be doing in this car?”
And that’s a pretty valid question. The CTS-V is a very carefully-engineered high-performance car, and much of what makes it different from its CTS brothers is how capable it is on the track. I both love that about the CTS-V and am a bit baffled by it, all at the same time.