The 2012 Cadillac CTS-V Sport Wagon is not a rational purchase. Compared to the CTS-V sedan or especially the CTS-V Coupe, the CTS-V Sport Wagon is the unreasonable heaped atop the improbable.
The improbable is the Cadillac CTS wagon. Cadillac as a luxury car builder had never before built a car with such a pedestrian charge as to have carting cargo a prime objective. And Cadillacs have been powerful, but until recent years Cadillac has never produced a car with 556 horsepower with supercar performance. And seldom have the twain been fastened together, and certainly never by Cadillac.
But it has now, and the result loses neither the luxury of a Cadillac CTS, the utility of a compact wagon nor the drop-dead performance of its’ 6.2-liter supercharged V-8 engine. Instead, the unlikely union multiplies the effect of the other.
The Sport Wagon element changes little in the process. It’s not very big—one observer called it a “hatchback”—with a total cargo capacity of 53.4 cubic feet with the rear seat folded and 25.0 cubic feet behind the rear seat and only 10.5 cubic feet using the EPA’s methodology. That’s bigger, of course, with more carrying capacity than either the sedan or the coupe.
There’s little mechanical difference between the sedan and the wagon—the coupe goes its own way in several places—but no one looks at the front of a Cadillac CTS-V and sees anything but aggression. The grille is bigger—double the standard CTS grille—to allow more cooling air, and the hood has a raised center section to clear the engine’s supercharger.
The 2012 Cadillac CTS-V is almost wholly unchanged from last year, the first year for the CTS-V Sport Wagon. It’s still equipped with huge Brembo performance brakes inside of 19-inch forged aluminum wheels mounted with Michelin Pilot Sport PS2 summer performance tires. The wheels and tires are staggered, wider at the rear than the front, big rear 285/35R19 gumbos charged with keeping the Cadillac connected to pavement.
There’s a choice of transmissions, a Tremec TR6060 six-speed manual gearbox or a Hydra-Matic 6L90 automatic. Our test 2012 Sport Wagon had the manual which we both liked and didn’t. The entire drivetrain feels hellferstrong, the gearbox along with it. Shifts can be banged off with authority. Just rev to the 6200 rpm redline and slam the lever to the next gear. The whole car transmits the torque of the next gear, the tires chirping as likely as not, with no drama, just an exuberance of acceleration.
The fault with the manual shifting has nothing to do with the transmission, however. It’s the pedal position. Anyone with normal feet and an expectation of heel-and-toe downshifts will be disappointed. The pedals are too far apart and on a different plane for the average shoe to straddle the gap. Fortunately the engine is torquey enough that shifting isn’t required very often.
Did we just write that the engine is torquey? The Cadillac CTS-V has enough grunt that rolling on the throttle is enough to cause whiplash in the unprepared. The CTS-V Sport Wagon is Corvette fast but with room for five people and a big pooch.