Cadillac CTS-V Coupe: First RideS

The Cadillac CTS-V Coupe is an American luxury two-door with a 556-hp V-8 and a six-speed manual transmission. It hits 60 mph in 3.9 seconds. Like tossing batteries in a blender, it's too much awesome, and I want more.

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I had the chance to take a first ride in the Cadillac CTS-V Coupe here in Texas yesterday. It's hard to explain how a "ride" is useful to someone looking for a "drive" review... mostly because it'll be completely useless to them. That said, here's some thoughts.

The CTS-V Coupe shares its magnetorheological dampers with the CTS-V Sedan, allowing it to maintain reasonable comfort while offering the kind of road-gripping performance that makes it the fastest production sedan around the 'Ring. And like the CTS-V sedan, there's an atomic weapon under the hood.

The "-V" in CTS-V represents a supercharged 6.2-liter LSA V-8 pumping out 556 hp and 551 lb-ft of torque through the rear wheels. It does so via a six-speed tranny with a third pedal — the kind of details you associate with a limited-edition exotic grand-touring car, not a Cadillac. But lest you think this just a CTS-V sedan with a big ass, it's important to realize how different — and how much better — the Coupe is.

The latter's obvious advantage is its narrow back seat — an excuse for begging off lardy passengers — but there's so much more:

  • Compared with the sedan, most of the coupe is new, sharing only a front fascia, instrument panel, and headlights with the sedan.

  • The coupe appears more aerodynamic, with a two-inch drop above your head counteracted by a corresponding drop in the H-point. Enough room for two tall people in the front seats.

  • A lower center of gravity and a stiffer body means a likely edge around a track or on a winding road.

  • Although it shares a wheelbase with the sedan, the Coupe is two inches shorter and about an inch wider, a trick accomplished through careful management of wheel offset.

  • Visually, it looks like a concept car, with a front windshield raked at 62 degrees and a rear windshield more horizontal than vertical.

  • The exterior center-mounted brake light? It's a giant, protruding, glowing boomerang. It's also the largest that Cadillac has ever built.

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The CTS-V Coupe that I rode in is VIN #6, the first sellable vehicle off the assembly line. And the earth wants to kill it.

I know this because the driver of the vehicle, Cadillac's communications manager Nick Twork, called me from the road explaining why he would be late — he had just escaped flooding in Nashville and then drove straight into the deadly Arkansas tornado outbreak, spotting two twisters before calling it a night.

It makes sense. The CTS-V Coupe is a threat to nature, and to everything we've been told to believe: Cadillac doesn't know how to build a real sporting two-door. The division's last two attempts were the de-tuned Corvette-in-pointy-clothing XLR-V and the quirky but underwhelming (and expensive) Pininfarina-designed Allante. These were old-people cars, but I'm not comfortable with old people driving the CTS-V Coupe.

In fact, I'm not comfortable with most people driving a CTS-V Coupe. It's dangerously fun. It'll do 130 mph in fourth gear with the same ease that most of us associate with eating pudding. Twork bangs on the clutch and sends us whipping down a feeder road. The press releases say the car does 0-to-60 mph in 3.9 seconds, just like its big brother, a time that matches that of a 2009 Nissan GT-R. I don't buy it. It just feels faster.

The only place the monster coupe fails is in some of its details. The twin round pipes out back are both purposeful and impressive, but center-mounted pipes are still an acquired taste that I haven't acquired. The unconventional push-pad door handles, borrowed from Corvette, are impressively cut, but the saffron-colored seat inserts stand out on Twork's silver-on-black car like glittery pink nail polish on Wolverine's claws.

Still, who cares? If you're driving, you're not going to be in the back seat or looking at those inserts. If you do happen to be in the back, have the driver mash the accelerator pedal and all your concerns will melt away in a haze of tire smoke.

All this fun doesn't come cheap. Pricing hasn't been released yet, but expect something in the sedan's $62,000-$69,000 range when the V coupe hits showrooms later this summer. It's a lot of change, but nothing compared to the change this car represents for Cadillac.