Every time I check the rear view it is filled with plumes of thick white smoke. I expected that as this saloon shares its 6.2-litre supercharged V8 with the Corvette Z06. The CTS-V is a smoke machine, and the most fun I’ve had in a car so far this year. For 2017, it gets a few tweaks to keep it fresh (Cadillac has re-sculpted the front and rear fascia) but the most important facet of this sports saloon is that motor. It hasn’t changed from last year, nor does it need to. In fact, the engine is so darn good that if Cadillac stuck with it for the next decade, it’d still feel fresh. 640 horses don’t ever get tiresome...
There are some new features and packages for 2017, but the highlight is still the big power, big brakes and the saloon’s big character. This year, you can spec the Caddy with a Carbon Black exterior package that ditches the chrome trim for lots of black carbon bits and pieces, but you don’t need it (our test car came without it) as it already has more than enough presence thanks to its angular shape (spec the pack and you get a more aggressive front splitter, bonnet vent, rear diffuser and a rear spoiler all made from the magical weave) the CUE infotainment system has been revised, it has a segment exclusive rear camera mirror (it displays a streaming, high-resolution image) and a Teen Driver system (it allows parents to set limits and receive feedback on the driving habits of their kids). That’s your lot, but, what more can you ask of a car that already delivers power by the bucket full, enough tech to rival a space shuttle and a comfortable cabin to boot, oh and a big boot?
Last year, the rear-wheel drive ‘four-door Corvette’ sold out and it’ll likely be the same this time around. It has everything going for it — but it isn’t just a brute burning up those fat tyres every chance it gets; it doubles up as a sophisticated family hauler and with plenty of room in the second row, it’s ever so practical. Like that matters when your right toe is in command of 855Nm of what feels like instantaneous torque. That this has two extra doors and can accommodate five adults in comfort is just a bonus. What you’ll really be doing is beating Mercs with the 5.5-litre biturbo V8 and BMWs with the 4.4-litre TwinPower V8 into submission — and then frightening supercars to within an inch of their lives. There’s an immediacy to the acceleration that its blown rivals seem to lack and it is coupled with an exhaust note that sounds ever so menacing at full throttle. With so much low-end power and torque, this car proves to be almost too much fun. But it has tremendous stopping power courtesy of the Brembo high-performance brake system, which has been developed for the track. And with the third-generation Magnetic Ride Control soaking up all the road imperfections by delivering a 40 per cent faster damping response, the ride is sumptuous. I had our tester in Track mode and with traction control switched off for maximum hoonery, it sure delivers in the thrills department. Aside from the regular smoke show, equally impressive is its ability to dispatch the 0-100kph dash in just 3.7 seconds (it’s quicker than the M5...), not to mention the ZF steering; the electric unit features a 14 per cent greater system stiffness offering heightened feedback. Also, the perfectly placed (and sized) paddle shifters allow your fingertips precise control of the snappy eight-speed.
Yes, it’s heavy and struggles to hide its weight when you throw it into corners but a capable driver will catch the back end when it breaks free in spite of the best efforts of the fat Michelin Pilot Super Sport summer tyres. They’re wrapped around the 19in alloys which, by the way, are 45 per cent stiffer than previous CTS-V wheels. Cadillac says it is also 20 per cent stiffer now (it has revised shock tower-to-tower braces, V-braces for the engine compartment, a strengthened rocker bulkhead and a unique aluminium shear panel at the front of the chassis) and if you ever venture on to the track to put those claims to the test, then the Performance Data Recorder will sure come in handy. This enables you to record, view and analyse your laps by capturing real-time video, cabin audio and performance data.
Speaking of technology (and connectivity) the 8.0in CUE infotainment system has been revised for 2017 and the upgrades include partial name recognition, display of Advanced Park Assist, and Wi-Fi signal strength. It also gets convenient features such as Text Message Alerts for smartphone users with Bluetooth and Siri Eyes Free for iPhone fans. They’re both voice-controlled, meaning you keep your phone stored and your hands on the wheel. Safety first. CUE now allows you to access both Android Auto and Apple Car Play with ease; a “Projection” icon appears on the screen to enable easier access to key functions such as navigation, contacts, hands-free text messaging and applications supported by Apple or Google but the capacitive-touch haptic-feedback controls are still annoying to use. The standard Bose surround sound system now features Centerpoint 2.0 surround technology and this delivers a more crisp sound from the 13 speakers but there’s another little issue; the instrument panel — a high-definition 12.3in cluster display — shows you all sorts of graphics and distinctive gauge readouts, which is fine in the day but at night — and with Track mode engaged — the light is very bright and can be a tad distracting. Just get used to it, it’s really one of the few ‘lows’ this car has.
If you’re on the hunt for a luxury performance saloon but want something different from the tried and tested i.e. the RS 7, M5 and Merc-AMG E 63 — which all offer lots of refined power — then this is it. Nothing makes a bolder statement than this loud and brash American.