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2007 Cadillac STS-V Review

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2007 Cadillac STS-V

SEE ALSO: Cadillac Buyer's Guide™

2007 Cadillac STS-V

What we have here is a limited-production factory tuner car that mixes luxury comfort and a sport-tuned suspension with 469 horsepower from an engine assembled by one highly-skilled technician. It must be German, right?

Nein. It a Cadillac STS-V, made in Lansing, Michigan. Although it is undeniably of the same vein as the top European factory tuner cars, the STS-V copies none of them, and has its own distinctive character. It's indecently quick and fast - capable of sub-five second 0-60 times and with the same (electronically-limited) 155-mph top speed as the Germans - yet it's also appointed to an even higher level than the regular STS models. Hand-crafted leather distinguishes its interior, and the external bodywork is notably different from that of the regular STS models.

The V-Series is Cadillac's in-house high-performance division, analogous to those of the German luxury/performance manufacturers. The V-Series cars - CTS-V, STS-V, and XLR-V - give wealthy potential customers who would otherwise look at one of the German marques new choices, and also serve as halo cars, elevating all Cadillacs. Cadillac's technical and luxury heritage go back to its beginnings a century ago (research "Dewar Trophy" for details), and while its performance heritage is more recent, it is no less legitimate. Cadillac V8s found their way into quite a few sports cars in the late 1940s and 1950s, most notably Allards and Cunninghams, and the Cunningham team even raced Cadillac sedans in the 24 Hours of Le Mans. If Cadillac's Le Mans prototype efforts of the late 1990s produced mixed results, current campaigns with competition versions of the CTS-V have been very successful in the SCCA Speed Challenge.

But the STS-V is not a race car. It's meant to be at home on the city streets and highways of the real world, including the no-speed-limit German Autobahn. Although its chassis and suspension have been strengthened accordingly, it is still a luxury car at heart, with a smooth, non-jarring ride and all of the expected comforts and conveniences. It even has a remote-start system that not only allows the car to be started with the remote fob from almost 200 feet away, but also allows the heater, defroster, and heated seats to be activated before the driver enters the car.

Still, its soul is its 469-horsepower supercharged and intercooled Northstar V8. With it, and its well-tuned suspension and comfortable interior, Cadillac has achieved the "iron fist in a velvet glove" nature that was once the exclusive province of the Europeans. The STS-V is refined, but not overly so, and has its own very distinctive character. Cadillac is copying no one, and need make no apologies.

APPEARANCE: There is no doubt that the STS-V is a high-performance car. It's not shy about announcing that, but neither is it luridly overdone. And the STS's angular lines lend themselves to the styling modifications, which encompass most body panels. In front, a new hood has an appropriately angular bulge, mesh upper and lower grilles provide air to the engine and intercooler, the line of vertically-stacked projector-beam headlights is enhanced by foglamps above brake intakes below, and a small splitter and hidden rubber air dam provide downforce and smooth underbody air flow. There is more rake to the sides, aided by larger, staggered-size wheels and tires and rocker panel extensions. The rear spoiler is only moderately sized, and positioned well to the rear. A small grille between the twin exhausts under the rear bumper also distinguishes the CTS-V.

COMFORT: Inside, as befits a car that will be used on the road, not the track, the STS-V emphasizes comfort and convenience over pure performance. Materials are to the highest standards, and the design is the latest evolution of Cadillac trends that date back to the beginning of its renaissance in the early 1990s. It's pleasantly conservative and tasteful, refreshingly devoid of the interface gadgetry that is the current fad in German cars. Anything that can be power-adjustable is, but this is a driver's car foremost and so gratuitous gadgetry is kept to a minimum. The instrumentation is easily visible, and the controls are well-designed and intuitive to use. The navigation and audio systems work through a simple touch screen, with well-marked hard and context-sensitive soft buttons, while the climate control is separate. Fine leather, hand-fitted and stitched, covers the seats, and both the front and the outboard rear positions are heated. There is a lockable ski pass-through to the trunk, which is commendably large. With the use of run-flat tires, the space otherwise used for the spare is extra storage.

SAFETY: Besides its strong unibody construction and comprehensive passive safety equipment, the Cadillac STS-V features powerful four-wheel antilock disc brakes, traction control, and a three-mode version of the Stabilitrak electronic stability control system that allows for high-performance driving.

RIDE AND HANDLING: While the STS-V is capable of sustained high speeds, it is neither a race car nor a pretender to that status. So its fully-independent short-and-long arm front, multilink rear suspension is tuned only moderately more firmly than that of the lesser STS models. The springs, anti-roll bars, and Sachs monotube shocks work together to provide a firm but compliant ride. Add the huge contact patches from the Pirelli runflat tires, and the result is excellent cornering power with minimal body roll. The steering ratio is quicker than standard, but effort is moderate. Four-piston calipers at all corners clamp firmly on huge vented Brembo brake discs for excellent stopping ability. Despite its high potential, the STS-V is easy and pleasant to drive in everyday use, and will make a fine daily driver.

PERFORMANCE: Driven moderately, the STS-V's power may not be readily apparent. With the six-speed automatic (GM's first) in "D", revs are kept low for better fuel economy. Highway cruising speed is around 2000 rpm in sixth gear. Accelerating from there, the engine doesn't feel all that powerful - at first. But it builds. And builds, becoming noticeably stronger above 3500 rpm. The torque peak, 439 lb-ft worth, is at 3900, and maximum power - 469 horsepower, the most ever in a production Cadillac - is developed at 6400 rpm, at which point the veneer of civility and refinement over the engine at lower speeds is long gone, replaced by the raucous metallic wail of a modern high-revving multi-cam V8. Which is exactly what the 4.4-liter dual overhead cam, 32-valve, variable valve timing aluminum Northstar variant is. Compared to the naturally-aspirated 4.6-liter version in other Cadillacs, a stronger block, increased coolant flow, oil-cooled pistons, lowered compression, and stronger connecting rods enable it to deal with a maximum of 12 psi of boost from a Roots-type supercharger. Intake air is cooled in water-to-air intercoolers. With mechanical linkage to the blower, there is no lag in power delivery. Putting the transmission in manual-shift mode allows the best performance - just don't expect fantastic gas mileage. With an average of 15 mpg in my mostly moderate driving (mostly...), the STS-V won't appeal to the high-mileage set. The well-heeled high-performance set, on the other hand, should find it quite interesting.

CONCLUSIONS: Cadillac shows that it can successfully compete with the world's best performance-luxury manufacturers with its STS-V.

2007 Cadillac STS-V

Base Price			$ 77,715 including gas-guzzler tax
Price As Tested			$ 77,715
Engine Type			supercharged and intercooled
				  dual overhead cam aluminum alloy
				  32-valve V8
Engine Size			4.4 liters / x cu. in.
Horsepower			469 @ 6400 rpm
Torque (lb-ft)			439 @ 3900 rpm
Transmission			6-speed electronically-controlled
				 automatic with manual-shift mode
Wheelbase / Length		116.4 in. / 197.6 in.
Curb Weight			4295 lbs.
Pounds Per Horsepower		9.2
Fuel Capacity			17.5 gal.
Fuel Requirement		91 octane unleaded premium gasoline
Tires, front / rear		P255/45 YR18 / P275/40 YR19
				 Pirelli Eufori@ runflat
Brakes, front/rear		vented discs with 4-piston calipers,
				 ABS, traction control, and
				 Stabilitrak standard
Suspension, front/rear		independent short-and-long arm /
				  independent multilink
Drivetrain			front engine, rear-wheel drive

EPA Fuel Economy - miles per gallon
    city / highway / observed		14 / 20 / 15
0 to 60 mph				4.9  sec