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Super Cadillac challenges German models

Published:Friday | December 11, 2015 | 5:30 PM

Cadillac has delivered its most powerful car, the 2016 CTS-V and the track-ready sport sedan, capable of speeds of 200 mph, is also stylish and remarkably comfortable for everyday driving.

The dual-personality rear-wheel drive CTS-V is a highlight of Cadillac's 2016 line and is a car that automotive enthusiast magazines have rightly called real competition to the BMW M and Mercedes-Benz AMG mid-size performance sedans.

In fact, the 640 horsepower and 630 foot-pounds of torque generated by the CTS-V's supercharged V8, which also is used in the Chevrolet Corvette Z06, surpass the turbo V8s of the German competitors.

The Cadillac also offers a performance data recorder for the CTS-V that records audio, performance data and, via a front camera, video so drivers can relive exuberant driving experiences and share them on social media.

Best of all, the CTS-V is reasonably priced for its segment. The starting manufacturer's suggested retail price for a 2016 CTS-V, including destination charge, is US$85,990. This includes a US$1,000 federal gas guzzler tax because the CTS-V's fuel economy rating is only 14 mpg in city driving and 21 mpg on the highway.

By comparison, the 2016 BMW M5 performance sedan with a 560-horsepower twin-turbo V8 has a starting MSRP, including destination charge, that's almost $10,000 more - US$95,095.

The AMG E63 S sport sedan from Mercedes, with a 577-horsepower biturbo V8, has a starting retail price of US$102,625.

CTS-V cars have been around for a decade, serving as the top model of Cadillac's luxury CTS sedan line that has a starting retail price of US$46,555 with a 268-horsepower turbocharged four-cylinder engine. But the CTS-V was extensively revamped as a new third-generation model for 2016.

The car has the characteristic Cadillac look outside, with edgy styling highlighted by thin, vertical lines of LED headlights and taillights that brought attention and compliments from bystanders. The five-seat CTS-V's size hasn't changed and it stretches 16.5 feet in length.

Virtually every body panel is different than what's on the regular CTS sedan with no 'V' in its name. For example, the hood on the CTS-V is made of lightweight carbon fibre, not metal, and has an air-extracting vent that funnels air over the top of the car to enhance stability at high speeds.

Durable 19-inch Michelin Pilot Super Sport tires that deliver good grip sit in wider fenders and the front fascia and grille have larger openings to help cool the supercharged V8.

Brembo performance brakes provide strong stopping power.

Drawing upon race track technology, Cadillac tweaked the front and rear suspension and uses a new third-generation Magnetic Ride Control system that 'reads' the road faster than ever and can adjust suspension dampers more quickly to control the car's body.

The test-driven CTS-V maintained its poise in all road conditions, from twisty curves to an emergency stop on a highway. The ride was firm without being harsh and punishing.

Power from the large, 6.2-litre overhead valve supercharged V8 comes on quickly and if the accelerator is down all the way it can cause the back end to fishtail. But it was also easy to modulate the power and drive in the city in a moderate style.

Drivers have to keep an eye on the speedometer, because speeds can creep up in the CTS-V.

Paddle shifters are standard, so drivers can shift from gear to gear on their own. But the new eight-speed automatic transmission is expert at selecting the right gears for maximum response.

Premium gasoline is required in the CTS-V, and it can cost US$48 to fill the 19-gallon tank at current prices.