Moving can be stressful, especially if you’re moving to a big city like New York just a few days after graduating college. During these busy times, it’s best to minimize distractions and limit the amount of tasks and responsibilities at hand, which is why my editors decided to get me a 640 horsepower Cadillac CTS-V for my first weekend in town. Here’s what I learned.
(Editor’s Note: We figured the best way to welcome Justin to New York would be to make him street park in the snow. Too bad we could only find such a sweet car to saddle him with.)
Possibly half of all New York State Troopers are understanding and own a Mitsubishi Evo.
In my three days and two nights with the Cadillac CTS-V, I managed to get stopped by two New York State Troopers. The first was when we were out at Floyd Bennett Field in Brooklyn on Saturday morning. There were many other people there, some recording video while hanging out of a passenger-side car window, some sledding behind cars.
A State Trooper pulled up to us to ask about our cars and to make sure we were being responsible. They clarified that they “got it,” and that they owned a Mitsubishi Evo VIII. The second Trooper I came across pulled me over for not having a front plate, realized I had a manufacturer plate, and then gave me a thumbs up as they drove off. More research is needed.
Not all New York area police officers are understanding, and do not all own Mitsubishi Evos.
The kind State Trooper at Floyd Bennett was only one of many cops in a seemingly tireless schedule of police presence. None of the other cops approached us, but they would circle around and park in that unique way cops do, like a confused predator that thinks they are camouflaged, but are laughably obvious. They were just doing their job, and we left with our photos and without issue.
A supercharger’s whine is amazing and you should fear it.
The Cadillac CTS-V’s engine noise mostly consists of the very mechanical whine of the supercharger, making it seem more like you are driving a wind-up toy and less like a hot and bothered V8. It’s not a bad noise, and it translates into the sort of thrust that wedges you deep into your hard bolstered seating.
In my case, my first memorable experience with the car was in a big, open and flat area covered in a pleasurable amount of snow, resulting in me becoming immediately sideways every time I put my foot down and heard the supercharger wind up.
This audible conditioning did not translate well to highway driving. It took me many miles to work myself away from being terrified of oversteer every time the supercharger’s noise creeped its way back into the cabin. This is something I eventually adjusted to, fortunately, but the it also kept me from doing anything too stupid.
An automatic transmission is the way to go.
It was only after I turned in the car and started writing about it that I realized I never gave the possibility of driving it with a manual transmission even a fleeting thought. I think this is simply because the automatic was probably better suited for city driving.
While a manual may have been more engaging on longer stretches of road with fewer obstacles, which I only briefly explored Sunday, overall having one less thing to worry about when dealing with stop lights, stop signs, taxis, other motorists, bicyclists, pedestrians, one-way streets, buses and the Cadillac CUE infotainment system ended up being a blessing.
Actual buttons and knobs are vital to survival.
Speaking of Cadillac’s CUE system, I went from being cautiously optimistic at the beginning of our weekend-long journey together to sarcastically and mockingly motioning to change the satellite radio station or turn off my heated seats, as every command seemed to be responding on a frustratingly consistent five-second delay.
It also took me an embarrassingly long time to learn that you swipe left and right on the piano black plastic under the screen to adjust volume, after slowly realizing it doesn’t react well no matter how hard you punch it with your finger. Attempting to use any of the flat non-button features on the dashboard that offered little to no feedback was alarming while in motion.
Front-wheel drive will struggle to cut loose.
I wasn’t the only car futzing around out at Floyd Bennett, with Mike in his Lexus SportCross and a colleague in a 2018 Honda Accord. Out of the three of us, the Accord had the most difficulty having fun. A city car needs to be fun on the weekends.
You don’t need 640 horsepower but it’s very efficient for opportunistic overtaking.
We have written before about the appropriate amount of horsepower, a figure that my colleague Michael Ballaban determined to be 300 HP. You’ll note that figure is roughly half of what the CTS-V provides, and I’d argue I likely only used about half of what the Cadillac had to offer in my time with it. The power was good for the rare opportunities where you can either sit behind a lost Uber car with no regard for the painted lanes, or you can punch it and pass 12 cars on the parkway, “by accident.”
Street parking after the roads have been plowed in a large snow-colored car is not ideal.
Luckily, I only had to street park the CTS-V twice while I had it. My previous car was a Ford Focus, which I only gave up a couple of weeks ago. I knew that car, how it drove, and I was confident in my awareness of its dimensions. I was not as confident with the Cadillac.
To Cadillac designers’ credit, it does feel a lot like a luxury yacht, in the sense that it seemed awkwardly large to me and I felt the need to give myself quite a few inches of allowance between where I targeted the car to go and where the massive surfaces of the car actually were. It doesn’t help that the sparkly grey-white body easily blends into the sparkly grey-white mounds of snow filling the spot you’re attempting to take, and the oddly thin side-view mirrors didn’t help.
Black interiors and road salt quickly begin to look like the scene of a crime.
I grew up watching the original CSI with my mom, and I can distinctly remember those flashy montage sequences of the team kicking in the door and then going to town with their swabs and their dusting brushes. After about five minutes of being in the Cadillac, with its black leather interior, it already looked like the CSI crew had worked through the scene of a triple homicide.
A hand print on the passenger seat (who was reaching for what?), a thumb print on the shifter (was this the murder weapon?), so many boot prints overlaying each other (we’ll have to send these back to the lab for analysis), a smudge on the door handle (killer’s hasty escape?), and a light general dusting throughout (get a tape sample for drug testing).
It’s important to help those less fortunate.
Look at how cocky that Cadillac is, jumping an M5.
How do I turn off the kinky seatbelts?
The Cadillac CTS-V likes to choke you. It likes to choke you so hard you’re going to have to awkwardly explain the rash on your chest and your bruised throat to your doctor at every checkup. It chokes you when you just start driving. This is the medium choke. If you fucking dare get this pony sideways it’s going to deathgrip you, like a desperate python with a family to feed. It’s horrible and I couldn’t figure out how to turn it off. Any journey with passengers is full of apologies.
Overall, the CTS-V was a pleasurable and eye-opening experience. It is, at this moment, the most powerful car I’ve ever driven, but I was appropriately prohibited by law from utilizing its full potential in our short time together. This only helped me conclude that you will never need 640 horsepower in the city, and nor do I think I will ever go wanting.
Having just moved to the metropolis, I’m looking forward to getting settled before getting a car of my own. But I’ve come to some conclusions about what I would want. Based on my experiences with the CTS-V, I’m thinking rear-wheel drive, a non-black interior, around or under 300 HP, a budget for snow tires, something with physical interior controls, and maybe automatic with the option for a decent set of manual paddles. I still may cave on a manual if I sense imminent regret, which is a non-zero possibility.
In some ways the Cadillac CTS-V is a lazy performance car. It’s energetic without frenzy, hefty but not heavy, straightforward in its luxury, and sharply styled with few distractions. As a daily driver on the streets on Manhattan and Brooklyn, it is both materially and stylishly comfortable and an overall confidence inspiring experience.
Whatever stress and contempt I held toward my editors dissolved the moment I threw it sideways through the snow, so I guess you could seek the Cadillac if you’d like to relax and unwind. It’s good therapy.