2012 Cadillac CTS-V Coupe road test: One part roaring tiger, one part purring kitten

2012 Cadillac CTS-V coupe

2012 Cadillac CTS-V coupe

When I caught my first glimpse of the 2012 Cadillac CTS-V coupe, it was slowly winding its way down a quiet suburban street toward my home.

 

Darkness had fallen so the only giveaway to its edgy identity were the two long slits of red identifying its taillights.

Then it passed beneath a street light and I could make out its Black-Diamond Tricoat paint and the 19-inch aluminum alloy wheels, also painted coal black.

Two words came to mind: sinister, evil.

To any who might not be acquainted with the letters CTS-V, they tell you that this is the explosive Cadillac, the one with the supercharged 6.2-liter V-8 engine, the one that can slingshot to 60 mph in 3.9 seconds, the one that can rocket around Germany’s fabled Nurburgring race track with the hottest production cars the world has to offer, the one that, theoretically at least, can hit a top speed of nearly 190 mph.

Dressed as it was in Darth Vader black, this car and its muscular rumble signaled to all that it can bully its way past lesser motorcars and leave them cowering at the curb. In short, it is not a car to be trifled with.

Let’s take a look at some of the coupe’s ingredients; 556 horsepower, 551 pound-feet of torque, sport suspension, Magnetic Ride Control, monster Brembo all-wheel antilock disc brakes that can haul the 4,250-pound coupe down from 60 mph to 0 in a mere 110 feet, precise power-assisted rack-and-pinion steering.

The car I drove also had an easy-shifting, six-speed manual transmission, but it is available with a six-speed automatic  transmission with steering-wheel paddle shifters.

If you are looking for spectacular performance, look no further. This Caddy even has a gauge that tells how many “g’s”  you are pulling in turns.  I never even came close to its nearly 1G limit on mostly urban and suburban roads where I traveled.

Excellent Recaro seats

Excellent Recaro seats

However, I did stand on the gas in first gear when the Cadillac was barely moving and the sticky, high-performance tires spun enough to make the Cadillac fishtail. With a quick shift to second gear at the engine’s 6,200-rpm redline, the tires let out another chirp and the coupe started to get squirrely all over again.

 

On one other occasion, demonstrating the car’s massive power to a friend, I slipped the lever into third-gear and hit the gas to pass a slower car. By the time I was back in the right lane the speedometer needle was pegged on 110. No police car was in the area, fortunately, but lesson learned.

On twisty roads, the Cadillac willingly digs in and follows the driver’s instructions, mostly un-bothered by the tightness of the curve or the condition of the road surface.

So, you might be thinking we’re talking about a hard-edged coupe tuned primarily to slice and dice with other super cars on a racetrack. Not really. This tiger has its pussy-cat side, too.

Thanks to General Motors invention of Magnetic Ride Control (also used by Ferrari  on its super-sophisticated, super-expensive cars) the suspension’s selectable modes  can be dialed down from sport to touring  for a comfortable ride around town or on the interstate.

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Nick has been an avid observer of all things automotive almost since birth and has been writing professionally about cars, trucks and the industry for more than 30 years. He is the author of The Essential Hybrid Car Handbook and was the long-time automotive editor for the Reading (Pa.) Eagle and Times. His articles have appeared in a variety of magazines, including The Robb Report and Men’s Health, and he has written for a variety of auto industry-related Web sites. He is also a member and former director of the International Motor Press Assn., a New York-based organization of more than 500 automotive journalists and auto industry executives.