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2016 Cadillac CTS V-SPORT Review By Steve Purdy +VIDEO

2016 Cadillac CTS V-SPORT  (select to view enlarged photo)
2016 Cadillac CTS V-SPORT just about any criteria it's as good as anything in its class.

Review by Steve Purdy
The Auto Channel
Michigan Bureau

Cadillac’s mid-size luxury/performance sedan, CTS, continues to struggle to find its niche in an automotive market offering plenty of stiff competition. The first generation of the CTS came to the market with bold styling, disappointing quality and design inside and excellent, if a bit crass, performance, particularly with the “V” variant. Generation two greatly improved the interior while maintaining the other best qualities of the CTS. Now, with generation three, it gained enough size to be fully in the category of BMW 5-Series, Audi A6 and Mercedes E-Class. And, by just about any criteria is as good as anything in its class.

This week we’re driving and testing the new CTS 3.6L TT V-Sport Premium. Before we get too excited, let’s clarify – this in not the track-ready CTS-V with 640-horsepower, supercharged V8. (Hope we’ll get to review that one soon.) Rather, this is the twin-turbo, V6 making a solid 420 horsepower without some of the track-specific features that come with the V. We’ll have more to say about the powertrain later.

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The Cadillac CTS is now a high-style, high-quality, rear-wheel drive luxury sedan built at the Grand River Assembly Plant, Lansing, Michigan, alongside sibling ATS and cousin Camaro. Engineering continues to be done with the rest of GM products in Michigan but marketing and advertising functions moved to New York City a couple years ago so that they could immerse themselves in a cosmopolitan culture of youth and fashion. I’m not sure that is working out for them yet, but let’s give it time.

When we first see the new CTS, its brand identity is obvious. It could be nothing but a Cadillac. Vertical shapes dominate front and rear fascia, the big Cadillac crest sits boldly within the crosshatch grille and deeply sculpted cheek vents add drama to the front view. Side and rear views have less drama but a simple elegance and an air of unconventionality (if that’s a word).

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Design inside is just as elegant with first rate materials, layout, fit and finish. Leather, metals, high-quality wood and faux-suede (Alcantara) headliner and trim integrate nicely for a cockpit that will please those with high-end tastes. Analog gauges reside in front of the driver and the new interface on the mulit-function touch screen gets vastly improved over the last version. My favorite feature is that it somehow sees my finger approaching and brings up menus an inch before I actually touch the screen. No knobs, buttons or switches clutter the center stack. Everything is done by touch. Silver bars allow a sliding motion to adjust fan speed and audio volume. This system is also much better than the original.

Front leather seats are well bolstered adding a good measure of sporty feel. Rear seats will accommodate two average size adults but a third person back there would have to sit on a hump between the seats. The rear seatbacks fold offering access to the smallish trunk, just 13,7 cubic-feet. We (four of us) picked our CTS up at the airport on the way back from a trip and we had to put our biggest suitcase between the rear seat passengers. Both a high lift-over and narrow opening make the trunk less convenient than many cars in this mid-size category.

The navigation system leaves much to be desired, most particularly the traffic function. Our section of I-96 has a construction issue causing traffic to typically back up about four miles and it must have been going on all day. The navigation system did not even see it, AS I learned just a couple miles after getting onto the freeway. Fortunately, in that case, a crossover presented itself and I did not hesitate to use it. Later it appeared the nav system was not even reading that section of road at all. Not sure what’s up with that. In researching the CTS I found some other reviewers who had issues with the navigation system.

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Now, back to that wonderful powertrain. The torquey (430 lb-ft), twin turbo, 3.6-liter, 420-hp, V6 revs smoothly to its 6,500 rpm red line making enough noise to get my neighbors’ attention. Accelerating gently results in a nice burbley resonance and even at idle is sounds good. Zero-to-60 times are in the high 4-second range. The EPA estimates we could get 24 mpg on the highway, 16 in the city and 19 mpg combined with premium fuel recommended. From our experience this week I would not argue with those numbers.

Chassis and suspension tuning match the rest of the car in sophistication. It will pull 0.95 g on the skid pad with the right tires. Steering (ZF premium system) feels tight and precise with good feedback. The Brenbo brakes stop with authority – as good as any of the Germans. The rev-matching 8-speed automatic transmission shifts quickly doing a fine job of getting all that power to the road.

Cadillac’s warranty covers the whole car for 4 years or 50,000 miles and the powertrain for 6 years or 70,000 miles.

Our CTS 3.6L TT V-Sport shows a standard price of $69,995, and that includes a lot of premium and performance content like: Brembo brakes, Pirelli summer tires on 18-inch machined wheels, driver-selectable “Track” mode, Magnetic Ride Control, electronic limited slip differential, heavy duty cooling system, full leather and suede seats and trim, upgraded CUE system and lots more stuff. Our test car has a few cosmetic options plus the performance brake linings. All that with the destination charge adds up to $74,665. The entry level CTS with turbo 4-cylinder and no extras (still a fine sports luxury car) will cost you around $45,500 with the raucous CTS-V starting at $84,000.

So, my bottom line on this review is: if you are shopping in this category of car, one step below the fastest mid-size luxury sport sedans (CTS-V, BMW M5, Audi S6, etc.), this Cadillac ought to be on your shopping list.

© Steve Purdy, Shunpiker Productions, All Rights Reserved

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