Each one of Cadillac’s lineup of CTS-V flagships are the automotive equivalent of a 9-pound hammer, vehicles of such brutal power and felonious fuel economy they make gearheads cheer, environmentalists scream and small children cry.
Every one of them is big and mean, with an engine two sizes too large and a blatant disregard for fuel efficiency. They are exactly the kind of cars self-righteous idiots point to while denouncing Detroit and General Motors as being hopelessly out of touch.
They can all get stuffed. The weapons-grade version of the CTS wagon is an insanely fun, absurdly fast and remarkably refined vehicle, quite capable of running with the best European cars.
We’ve known Cadillac could dish out some serious hurt since 2009, when the CTS-V sedan elbowed its way through the crowd like a belligerent drunk and delivered a beating to almost anything that crossed its path. The sedan begat a coupe so potent it prompted Cadillac’s return to racing. But General Motors didn’t stop there.
Someone at GM decided that what the world really needs is a CTS-V Wagon because, you know, a 6.2-liter supercharged V-8 good for 556 horsepower is just what you need for running to Costco.
Which, by the way, is exactly what I did with it the first day I had it.
The car GM sent me was as red as the devil with a face just as mean. The V is all creases and angles, with a leering grille and a linebacker’s stance. It’s so masculine it all but drips testosterone. I got in to find a proper manual transmission, with six speeds and three pedals. I could swear I heard a trumpet fanfare.
Six gears are superfluous when you’ve got enough torque for your car and the two behind you. It simply doesn’t matter what gear you’re in when you’ve got 550 foot-pounds of the stuff, which is more than a Lamborghini Aventador, by the way.
Given all that grunt, the car simply surges forward when you stab the accelerator. Drop it down a gear and you get a kick in the ass that never fails to make you smile. Drop it down two gears and you’d better have a firm grip on the wheel and plenty of room ahead of you because you’ve pulled the trigger on an RPG.
I discovered this getting onto the freeway. One moment I’m downshifting into third to take the cloverleaf, the next moment I’m doing 90. It happened literally that fast. The CTS-V does zero to 60 in 4.3 seconds and tops out just short of a buck ninety. That’s approaching supercar territory — in a freakin’ wagon.
It isn’t the terminal velocity that’s so impressive, it’s how quickly and effortlessly you get there. The power just keeps coming, seemingly without end, propelling you forward in a rush so exhilarating it’s addicting.
But anyone can haul ass in a straight line. It’s the curves that matter, and the V Wagon attacks them with confidence-inspiring ferocity. This car isn’t a wagon, it’s a Corvette with four doors and 25 cubic feet of cargo space (33 with the seats down). The steering is precise, the chassis is balanced and the brakes are fantastic. The ride is firm but forgiving. The V Wagon is easy to toss around for a car weighing 4,398 pounds, although quick transitions are a handful.
The car’s sporting intentions are reflected in the interior. From the feel of the wheel to the placement of the pedals to the short throws of the shifter, everything was designed for spirited driving. Optional Recaro seats — $3,400! — hold you firmly in place while doing donu… er, driving like the responsible adult GM designed this car for.
The General packed the V with all the amenities you’d expect in a car that starts north of $63,000, but there’s a bit too much plastic for something that pricey.
As long as we’re complaining, GM needs to open up the exhaust and let this monster roar. Revving the engine emits a nice rumble, but it’s muted. And then there’s the fuel economy. Dear god, the fuel economy. Drive this car like you know you want to and you can actually watch the needle sweep toward “E.” I averaged 12.5 mpg during a week with the car, but could have done better had I shown more restraint.
Oh, who am I kidding? Even the most ardent environmentalist or EV advocate would have a hard time showing restraint in a CTS-V Wagon. Before you get your knickers in a twist over the fuel economy, remember this: The CTS-V Wagon will never be a big seller. GM will be lucky to sell a few hundred a year, so it’s not like the world will end because this car gets crappy fuel economy.
So why did GM build it? Only someone who doesn’t get cars would ask that question. There is no reason. The CTS-V Wagon exists because it could, because someone at General Motors felt it should and had the chutzpah to pull it off.
God bless him.
Photos by Jim Merithew/