2014 Cadillac XTS VSport first drive review: Splitting the difference

2014 Cadillac XTS VSport

2014 Cadillac XTS VSport

If Cadillac wanted to bridge the gap between its standard models and the oh-so-hot V-series, it sure chose a strange way to do it. Enter the 2014 Cadillac XTS VSport. Instead of just merely detuning the supercharged V-8 engine of the CTS-V models, a perfectly acceptable modus, Cadillac developed an all-new Twin-Turbo V-6 and put it in the Cadillac XTS mid-size luxury sedan. Enter the new Cadillac VSport class.

When we first-drove the 2013 Cadillac XTS, it was powered by Cadillac’s outstanding 3.6-liter V-6 engine, and we were pleased by the combination. The XTS continues in its sophomore year with modest changes, including a new rear seat entertainment system, an optional front passenger seat memory function, and an opaque sunroof sunshade. That’s typical for the second time around.

However, Cadillac follows up the first year offering for its competitor with the BMW 5-Series and Audi A6 with a new engine. Like the standard mill—which has actually been around for a surprisingly long time, now that we think about it—the new twin-turbo engine displaces 3.6 liters and actually shares the same bore and stroke. There the similarity ends. Almost no components are shared with the standard engine. Even the engine block is an all-new casting.

2014 Cadillac XTS VSport engine

The 2014 Cadillac XTS VSport’s twin-turbocharged engine is rated at 410 horsepower. (click to enlarge)

The cylinder heads are new, too, with a “high-tumble” intake port design that Cadillac says “enhances the motion of the air charge for a more efficient burn when it is mixed with the direct-injected fuel.”

It’s the two turbochargers that give the engine its name, however. The Twin-Turbo has a pair of smaller turbochargers for a quicker power delivery. Two little guys spool up faster than one big guy. The immediate response is also aided by an integrated intercooler with low-volume air ducts to maintain charge velocity.

The twin turbos produce 12 pounds of boost, but the engine has a nominal compression ratio of 10.2:1, made possible by the direct injection, actually an all-new system. There’s no fooling ourselves, however: The Cadillac Twin-Turbo 3.6-liter V-6 requires premium fuel.

Tech features Cadillac points out are stronger connecting rods, and machined, domed aluminum pistons with a top steel ring carrier for greater strength.

2014 Cadillac XTS VSport wheel

The 2014 Cadillac XTS VSport comes with 20-inch wheels. (click to enlarge)

The Cadillac Twin-Turbo 3.6-liter V-6 may be a step back from the 556 horsepower of the supercharged V-8 in the CTS V-Series models, but it’s hardly anyone’s weak sister. While the standard 3.6-liter V-6 is rated at 305 horsepower and 264 lb-ft of torque, the two-turbo six comes with a rating of 410 horses and 369 lb-ft of torque, the latter over an exceptionally wide range from 1900 to 5600 rpm.

Cadillac gave us a first-drive opportunity, but it (a) started in Manhattan, and (b) continued up a throughway with a 55 mph speed limit and heavy traffic. Where we were stopped in traffic, we couldn’t go fast, and where we could go fast—or a fleeting semblance thereof—we couldn’t stop. How does 410 horsepower in a 2014 Cadillac XTS feel? We couldn’t tell you, other than to say the “tuned air inlet and outlet resonators, aluminum cam covers and other features” do in fact help with a smooth and quiet ride.

We do, however, look forward to more time behind the wheel of the 2014 Cadillac XTS VSport. Or for that matter, the additional models that will come with the Twin-Turbo engine. We haven’t been disappointed with a recent Cadillac yet, and we don’t expect to be this time either.