This is a 556-hp, rear-wheel-drive Cadillac. It has two doors, six speeds, and enough grunt to yank the moon out of orbit. It is everything we are supposed to want in an American car. One question: Is it any good?
I have one word for you: Duh.
This is the Cadillac CTS-V coupe. It represents everything General Motors knows about building fast, enticing luxury cars. If you listen to the pundits, it is the most important vehicle to come out of GM in years, if only because it shows that the company is no longer asleep at the wheel, and that someone realizes that Cadillac should be building Truly Awesome Things.
Whatever. Screw importance. This is a big, honkin' two-door with a big, honkin' badge on its nose and a giant supercharged V-8 under the hood. And it has a clutch pedal. You, mister General, had me — had this entire website — at hello.
From a spec-sheet standpoint, what we have here is not new. The CTS-V coupe is a two-door version of the CTS-V sedan, and it shares that car's wheelbase, powertrain, suspension, brakes, and just about everything else. The 556-hp, 6.2-liter supercharged V-8 carries over, as does the choice of either a six-speed manual or six-speed automatic transmission. Driver-adjustable magnetorheological suspension, enormous Brembo brakes (15-inch front rotors, 14.7-inch rears), a limited-slip differential, and 19-inch alloy wheels wearing Michelin summer tires are standard. Compared with the ordinary CTS coupe, a few trim details change — the V gains a tall center brake light that doubles as a spoiler, gargantuan twin exhaust tips, optional Recaro seats, and tweaked interior bits come along for the ride — but these are minor details. At just over two tons, the V coupe is not light, but it weighs 37 pounds less than the CTS-V sedan and 15 pounds less than the CTS coupe.
I drove this car six hours before writing and posting this story. Jalopnik contributor John Krewson met me in Manhattan and accompanied me to the wilds of New York state. We ripped over winding pavement, we hammered up a mountain, we thundered down the interstate, and we slogged through traffic. One thing was immediately clear:
The CTS-V coupe drives almost exactly like a CTS-V sedan. (There was a word I used above. I believe it was "duh." Ahem.)
What does that mean? This is what everyone else will tell you: Taut, compliant suspension. Steering that feels a bit heavy and numb on center but is surprisingly tactile and communicative. Lots of leather. An engine that pulls and pulls and pulls, regardless of rpm or load. Supportive, comfortable seats that fit asses large and small. Brakes that'll yank your ears off your head. And an eye-catching, albeit occasionally gaudy, shape that stands out in traffic. Like the sedan, the coupe is a real car, an American take on the European grand tourer, a mean-ass hot rod dressed up for the opera.
(Because you folks seem to like it, this is the paragraph — immature, drooly, and A.D.D. — that you will only get here: Tire smoke tire smoke tire smoke sideways tire smoke! Hello, tire smoke! Hello, chrome! Hello, meaty shift lever! Leather? Leather! You're with me, leather! Ha! Speed! Ha! America! America yes! Sharp edges! Standard of the world and sliding drifting goofy fun no wind noise HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR LET'S YOU AND ME AND TORQUE BE BFFS TILL THE DRIFTY, DRIFTY COWS COME HOME)
Ahem. Whoops. Got a bit carried away. Sorry. Back to regular programming.
Like the CTS-V sedan, the V coupe's engine is a monster, a near-silent ball of seemingly endless fury and white light that lives under that sharply angled hood. It emits no discernible blower whine and only the slightest exhaust rumble, and it flings the car from horizon to horizon in a kind of subdued, throaty shove. Wind noise is next to nonexistent. According to GM, 60 mph comes up in 3.9 seconds.
Ahh, Cadillac. This is lovely, but this is nothing new. The last CTS-V sedan I drove made me feel like buying a new suit, getting a haircut, buying a bottle of bourbon, and going to the zoo to see if I could break a few gorillas loose from their cages. For some reason, I get the impression that gorillas like to party and enjoy being well-dressed, and the CTS-V, in either coupe or sedan form, reminds me of a partying, well-dressed gorilla. I cannot explain why.
Let's not kid ourselves: As much as we would like to believe otherwise, this is not a world-changing car. The V coupe is a two-door version of expensive, fast, relatively thirsty four-door sedan, and it is not the sort of thing that the mainstream, non-enthusiast world is crying out for. Heck, for that matter, even the enthusiast world is likely to raise an eyebrow — the V coupe costs $62,990, and if you start thinking about the light, gutsy sports cars that chunk of change will buy, the Cadillac doesn't make a lot of sense. But that's probably not the point. It appeals to us, yes, but it also appeals to a certain kind of ordinary, non-hoon person. It appeals to the dude on the street.
Yesterday afternoon, I mentioned to a non-car-freak friend that I was going to drive a CTS-V coupe. He had one question: He wanted to know why the car existed. What, he asked does it offer that a Chevrolet Corvette doesn't? Ignoring the obvious (a back seat, a trunk, my friend's talent for asking
stupid strange questions), his curiosity raised a good point: It may not make much sense to the die-hard enthusiast, but to the layman, the V coupe falls into that grand Cars That are Silly, Fast, and Expensive category, a broad umbrella that covers everything with more power and grip than the ordinary person needs. For a lot of people, the Crazy V-8 Power + Rear-Wheel Drive + General Motors equation equals Corvette, regardless of the details.
I thought for a while, I talked to Krewson, and I came up with the following answer: Refinement, subtlety (yes, subtlety), and discretion. If you lump a Corvette into the same category as a two-door CTS-V, then you are not coming from the same place I am, but that's not important. What is important is that the V coupe offers a thinking man's alternative to the usual fast-coupe crowd — it's a kid-hauling Corvette for the person who wants a fun, fast car with no stigmas or strings attached.
Public perception aside, the emotions are what matter, and the emotions are nice. Like the CTS-V sedan, the V coupe makes me proud to come from this country, proud to not be evil. I'm reminded of a piece of music trivia: The folk singer Woody Guthrie famously carried a guitar with the words "this machine kills fascists" painted on it. At the risk of being completely random, let's consider a few parallels: Woody Guthrie was American and awesome. Woody Guthrie's guitar was American and awesome. The CTS-V coupe is American and awesome. Fascism is evil. Cars that suck are evil.
Yeah, the CTS-V coupe kills fascists. There — I said it. It's a great car.
More CTS-V coupe fun to come! Tune in next week for road-trips, added feature stories, and extra hoonage.
Photo Credits: Sam Smith/Jalopnik