2014 Cadillac CTS 3.6L Twin-Turbo Vsport Premium review: Shocking all over again

2014 Cadillac CTS 3.6L Vsport

2014 Cadillac CTS 3.6L Vsport

The new 2014 Cadillac CTS isn’t as shocking as the first Cadillac CTS. That CTS, which arrived way back in 2002 as a 2003 model, introduced Cadillac’s Art & Science design theme, an edgy motif that shattered the bland and bulbous styling of the Opel-based Cadillac Catera—forgotten until we mentioned it just now.

Since then, Art & Science has been thoroughly integrated into the Cadillac lineup, from the new extended-range hybrid, the Cadillac ELR, through the Cadillac assorted CTS coupe, CTS wagon and CTS-V versions of the same, as well as the Cadillac SRX crossover, the full-size Cadillac XTS sedan, and the full-size luxury SUV, the Cadillac Escalade…the only current Cadillac with a name rather than alphanumeric.

In other words, the whole family is creased and folded, and with the third generation of the Cadillac CTS, it is yet again. The CTS is all new, or at least as all-new as new models are these days, however, with the new 2014 CTS sharing the platform, or basic architecture, with the Cadillac ATS. The midsize CTS has a longer wheelbase, however, at 114.6 inches compared to the 109.3 inches of the compact ATS. But it’s the ATS the 2014 Cadillac CTS shares genes, not its predecessor.

2014 Cadillac CTS 3.6L Vsport interior

The interior of the 2014 Cadillac CTS 3.6L Vsport in Kona brown. (click to enlarge)

It’s not wholly different under the hood, however. The base 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine—yes, a four-cylinder, but turbocharged and making 272 horsepower and 295 lb-ft of torque—was around last year, as was the 3.6-liter V-6. The naturally-aspirated 3.6-liter V-6 (321horsepower/ 275 lb-ft torque) continues as well. But a 3.6-liter twin-turbo V-6 is all new for Cadillac, and in addition to the 2014 Cadillac CTS Vsport, is also used in the 2014 Cadillac XTS Vsport. It’s rated at an impressive 420 horsepower and 430 lb-ft of torque, and it’s what makes the Vsport models the standouts that they are.

Without going into too much detail (we’ve profiled the engine here) new twin-turbo V-6 shares its basic layout with the standard Cadillac 3.6-liter V-6 engine but with a number of changes to help the engine cope with the rigors of two turbochargers.

2014 Cadillac CTS 3.6L Vsport engine

The 2014 Cadillac CTS 3.6L Vsport 240-horse engine lives under a plastic cover and tucks back under the cowl. (click to enlarge)

Beyond that, the new 2014 Cadillac CTS Vsport has an eight-speed transmission. The multispeed gearbox allows the engine remain closer to the optimum rpm for the current power versus economy needs. The CTS Vsport cruises at 70 mph at a fuel-saving 1800 rpm. For smoother gear changes when, for example, the throttle is lifted suddenly, the transmission can skip gears, going seamlessly to the proper gear  without having to go through every ratio. And of course because the CTS Vsport has “sport” in its name, the transmission has a sport mode with paddle shifter with a no-shift rev limiter.

The 2014 Cadillac CTS goes beyond the new twin-turbo 3.6-liter V-6 and eight-speed transmission, of course. The CTS, which has grown five inches in length, is actually 200 pounds lighter, thanks to structural techniques including Cadillac’s first aluminum door structure.

2014 Cadillac CTS 3.6L Vsport LED accents

The 2014 Cadillac CTS 3.6L Vsport continues the Art & Science theme with vertical LED accent lights and the front quarters. (click to enlarge)

The exterior is instantly recognizable as a Cadillac, and design-wise it’s catching up with other Cadillac models. The vertical LED trim on the leading front corners echo that of the Cadillac ATS, from near the bottom where it leads to an accent grille, to up over the top of the fender, a third of the way to the A-pillar. The grille is wider and the cowl and roofline lower. It’s the lower and longer but not the wider.

The interior of the 2014 Cadillac has been updated, with two major items for those familiar with the new generation’s predecessor will notice immediately is the 12.3-inch reconfigurable video screen instrument panel, and the replacement of the slide-up multi-information display atop the dash. Our test 2014 Cadillac CTS Vsport had the Premium trim level, the upper of two trim levels for the Vsport Twin-Turbo, and the best equipped model of the 2014 Cadillac CTS sedan lineup.

As such, the interior includes full-leather seating (rather than “leather seating surfaces” of the regular CTS Vsport), adaptive HID headlights, proximity key with pushbutton start, 20-way driver’s power seat and a power cupholder cover, and a choice of eight “interior environments” trimmed with authentic wood, carbon fiber or aluminum. Ours was in Kona Brown leather with jet black accents.

2014 Cadillac CTS 3.6L Twin-Turbo Vsport Premium

2014 Cadillac CTS 3.6L Twin-Turbo Vsport Premium (click to enlarge)

The wood trim is has a matte finish that emphasizes it’s wood, because when imitation wood began to look too much like real wood with a good finish, well, Something Had To Be Done!

One feature of our test 2014 was a seatbelt that would cinch itself down, as if measuring the person in the seat, and then relax slightly, all the better to prepare for a crash. It’s off-putting at first though it’s possible to become accustomed to your car hugging you unless, as a female passenger said, it squashes your boobs.

Some people—including some other CarBuzzard writers—don’t like CUE, the “Cadillac Users Experience.” We don’t see what the fuss is. We’ve found it easier to use than a number of other systems—we could name names, but you know who they are. Voice recognition is moderately accurate and the haptic response—the multi-information screen gives a tactile response when a “button” is pushed—is like the click of a conventional button. The data on the screen, such the navigation system map, is full-screen until the driver or passenger waves a hand in front to the screen, woken up by the proximity of the movement.  The only anomaly is the strips of metal on the centerstack that are swiped to change radio volume or HVAC temperature settings as frustrating because they’re hard to be precise.