From our point of view, the Cadillac V-Series has always been paradoxical. A brand built on having the biggest and plushiest machines on four wheels has been nevertheless shouting from on top of its Warren, Michigan headquarters (née New York City, née GM Renaissance Center) that it provides some of the most thrilling passenger cars on the planet. For some, it’s changed the perspectives of what Cadillac is about.
It all began with the 2004 Cadillac CTS-V. Fitted with a small-block 5.7L LS6 V8 and exclusively to a manual transmission, the four-door sedan got on to 60 mph from a standstill in under five seconds, and cut its teeth around the Nűrburgring Nordschleife during its development. Never mind that your standard Cadillac customer has no idea where that famed German road course is located, the angular CTS-V was a catalyst. Shortly after, the STS-V large sedan and XLR-V roadster entered the fray. But Cadillac V-Series was just getting started.
The second-generation Cadillac CTS-V made an even greater impression. Bashing and brawling to finish under 8 minutes around the 12-mile-long Nűrburgring Nordschleife, the 2009 Cadillac CTS-V set a new record for production sedans around the famed racetrack. It also introduced magnetic ride control to the brand, topped out at nearly 200 miles per hour, and came in sedan, coupe and wagon variations. Its 556 horsepower 6.2L LSA supercharged V8 engine was unmatched by BMW. Today, the second-generation Cadillac CTS-V remains a hot commodity for the aftermarket crowd.
For the 2016 model year, Cadillac introduced the first-ever ATS-V and third-generation CTS-V. The 464 hp ATS-V drove more lively than the F80 BMW M3, but enthusiasts were nevertheless puzzled as to why it had a twin-turbocharged V6, instead of a more signature small block V8. Nevertheless, its vehicle dynamics are telepathic, sharp, and confidence-inspiring. Meanwhile, the 2016 Cadillac CTS-V pushed the envelope for both horsepower, and price. 640 horsepower out of the 6.2L supercharged LT4 V8, shared with the C7 Corvette Z06, gave the $87,000 CTS-V the character of a missile in a mink coat, and had an official top speed of 200 miles per hour. And because of the downforce equipment on the Z06 C7 Corvettes, it was also the fastest vehicle sold by General Motors until the introduction of the 212-mph C7 Corvette ZR1.
Continuing forward, Cadillac will soon launch the 2019 CT6-V performance sedan. Larger than the CTS-V, and more road focused, the CT6-V will exclusively receive the 4.2L twin-turbo, LTA DOHC V8 engine dubbed “Blackwing” with an estimated 550 horsepower and 627 lb-ft of torque. It’s the first V-Series Cadillac with all-wheel-drive, as well as the biggest. Following the CT6-V will be the Cadillac CT4-V and Cadillac CT5-V, which are set to replace the ATS-V and CTS-V in the lineup.
The Cadillac V-Series story appears far from over, but after 15 years, we’re still wondering if Cadillac ever needed to play Germany’s game in the first place. Regardless, the fact that there are incredible American performance luxury vehicles on the road today, regardless of the brand, is an occasion to celebrate.